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Knock, knock: Browns there; team set for HBO s Hard Knocks

By Tom Withers, Associated Press CLEVELAND (AP) — Ready or not, the Cleveland Browns are getting their close-up. Coming off a historic, dismal 0-16 season, the Browns have been chosen to appear on HBO's popular "Hard Knocks" series that gives NFL fans a behind-the-scenes look at training camp. The Browns have turned down previous opportunities to be on the award-winning series. But with renewed optimism around Cleveland following the recent draft, and the selection of quarterback Baker Mayfield, the team is granting HBO unlimited access to its upcoming camp. Cleveland is the 13th franchise to participate in "Hard Knocks," which began in 2001 with the Baltimore Ravens. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were featured last summer. Although they've won only one game the past two seasons under coach Hue Jackson, the Browns see the show as a possibility to highlight some of their younger players and put a positive spin on their rebuild. And for HBO, Mayfield's quest to win the starting job is just one of several juicy story lines. "NFL Films has always been exceptional at bringing fans closer to the game and they do an outstanding job with every show they produce, including HBO's Hard Knocks," Browns owners Dee and Jimmy Haslam said. "We have been asked multiple times about being featured on Hard Knocks, and we really felt like it was our turn this year and the timing was right. We want to be great partners in this league, and we also recognize Hard Knocks gives fans a special opportunity to learn more about our team and players." HBO's cameras are certain to focus on Mayfield, the brash Heisman Trophy winner from Oklahoma the Browns chose over other quarterbacks. Mayfield is expected to back up Tyrod Taylor this season, but their competition could make for the kind compelling TV that has made the series a must-watch for football junkies. A 30-person film crew will be at the team's training facility in Berea to record more than 2,000 hours of footage for the five-segment series that will debut Aug. 7. The Browns have some good young players who are not well known outside Cleveland. But "Hard Knocks" will give national exposure to budding stars like defensive end Myles Garrett, Mayfield and safety Jabrill Peppers and give the network a chance to tell the well-documented story of former Pro Bowl wide receiver Josh Gordon, who has missed most of the past three seasons because of drug suspensions. Mayfield has experience in front of the cameras. He was recently featured in a recent documentary series as he prepared for the draft, and feels the Browns can make "Hard Knocks" a positive experience. "For me looking at it, and us as a team, I'd say it can be good if you handle it right. I'll just say that," he said on SiriusXM NFL Radio. "If you think about it as a way to get on camera and try to show off and do certain things and handle it the wrong way then that can be very negative, it can be a distraction. But if you use it as a sense of, 'OK, I got to block out everything else and just focus on playing ball,' then that can be a great thing for us." Jackson and Browns defensive coordinator Gregg Williams have both been on "Hard Knocks" — Jackson with the Cincinnati Bengals in 2013 and Williams with the Los Angeles Rams in 2016. "Being able to bring our fans in so they can get to know our players and our organization in a different way will be a huge positive for us," Jackson said. "I want people to see how much our players and coaches care, how hard they work and how badly they want to win for Cleveland. This will be a great opportunity for our team." Browns general manager John Dorsey had reservations about the series, but feels the team is equipped to handle the added scrutiny. "Once we sat down and talked about it as an organization, I feel a lot better and understand why the time is right," said Dorsey, who has been overhauling the team since being hired in December. "Hue and I both feel like this team is in a good place and that we are in the process of building something that will lead to success.".....»»

Category: sportsSource: abscbn abscbnMay 18th, 2018

AP source: Browns, Dez Bryant still talking but no deal

By Tom Withers, Associated Press CLEVELAND (AP) — Dez Bryant and the Browns are in a holding pattern. The free agent wide receiver concluded his visit with Cleveland on Friday without agreeing to a contract, but "conversations continue" between the sides, a person familiar with negotiations told The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the talks. A three-time Pro Bowler during eight seasons with the Dallas Cowboys, Bryant and agent Kim Maile met with Browns officials at team headquarters Thursday. The discussions carried over to a second day, ending with a promise to stay in touch. It's not known if Bryant has left town. The Browns host the Buffalo Bills in an exhibition game Friday night. One of the NFL's top receivers, the sometimes temperamental Bryant was cut by Dallas in April. Although the Browns are coming off a 0-16 season, Bryant is intrigued about joining them. The 29-year-old reached out to general manager John Dorsey after watching the team on HBO's "Hard Knocks." Bryant is also friends with wide receiver Jarvis Landry, a three-time Pro Bowl selection with Miami who came to Cleveland in a trade. The Browns have significantly upgraded their talent and there is renewed optimism about a franchise that hasn't made the playoffs since 2002. If Bryant signs, the Browns would have three Pro Bowlers — Bryant, Landry and Josh Gordon — on their roster. Gordon is not with the team to deal with health issues, but the Browns are confident he'll be back this season......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated News21 hr. 35 min. ago

Warriors need just one game to establish superiority

By Sekou Smith, NBA.com HOUSTON — Months of building up the hard shell required to wade this deep into the NBA’s merciless playoff waters can evaporate in a snap. One bad rotation, followed by a missed layup on the back of yet another dagger from the other team and even a mighty, 65-win juggernaut can see it all unravel. The Houston Rockets know the feeling now, after living through it on what could turn out to be the biggest night of the best [regular] season in the history of the franchise. They invited the Golden State Warriors in, dared to beat the reigning NBA champions at their own game in these Western Conference finals with an emphatic win and came up woefully short of that goal in the opener. The home court advantage they worked for all throughout a brilliant season is gone. The comfort provided by a 2-1 record against the Warriors during the regular season series the Rockets held tight since January was blown away after just four quarters. Whatever aura they thought they owned heading into the Toyota Center Monday night (Tuesday, PHL time) for Game 1, they shed long before the final seconds of their decisive 119-106 loss to the Warriors. It looked good early, when James Harden had the Rockets rolling to a nine-point lead in the frenzied opening minutes. But Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, Stephen Curry and the rest of a Warriors team making its fourth straight appearance in the conference finals, they don’t fold at the first sign of danger. “You’re not going to just come in and knock them out,” Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni said. “I mean, there’s just too many times we had mental lapses. We either didn’t switch properly or we didn’t switch hard enough. We turned the ball over  little too much. Every time we missed a layup, which we missed a lot of layups, they ran out. “They’re really devastating. We’ve got to make layups, don’t turn it over and do a little bit better job of mentally just staying up on people.” The fact that they were starting this series away from the friendly confines of Oracle Arena for the first time during their recent run did nothing to shake their belief in themselves. And if there is anything that is clear after just four wild quarters of this most anticipated series, it’s that the Warriors’ collective confidence is far superior to the artificial skin the Rockets wrapped themselves in leading up to the opening round of this heavyweight fight. Harden played inspired, for most of his 35 minutes, finishing with a game-high 41 points and seven assists. Chris Paul’s 23 points, 11 rebounds and three assists look good on paper. But it wasn’t enough. It was nowhere near enough to offset the Rockets’ self-inflicted mistakes or the fury the Warriors can rain down on their opponents this time of year. “They’re obviously champions for a reason,” D’Antoni said. “If we want to beat them, we have to be mentally sharper. KD, he’s tough. Obviously, he was on tonight. Hey, you can live with that. But you can’t live with that and then make mental mistakes, and that's what we do. The combination of the two was devastating.” Durant was hell bent on devastation, torching an assortment of Rockets defenders for his 37 points. Thompson drilled the Rockets for 28 points of his own, his 15 attempts from beyond the three-point line serving as a more demoralizing dagger for a Rockets defense designed to limit those attempts. With so much attention on them, the Rockets seemed to lose their defensive focus on basically everyone else. “Defensively, we’ve got to be better,” Paul said. “You know it’s funny, I got caught helping a couple times in the first half and I think Nick Young hit three [three-pointers] off those plays. Some games, some series, you may make those mistakes and guys don’t make the shots. But tonight, every time we did it, they made the shot. They make you pay when you make mistakes.” Just to be clear about what kind of armor the Warriors travel with these days, they’ve won a game on the road in 18 consecutive playoff series, well before the Durant era. So as much as this is about the back and forth between Durant and Harden, the former Oklahoma City Thunder teammates who once got this point in a season together and elbowed their way into The Finals in 2012, it’s about Curry, Thompson, Green and Andre Iguodala, the 2015 Finals MVP. Those are the other four members of the Warriors’ “Hamptons Five” lineup that started the game, the group that withstood everything the Rockets threw at them Monday (Tuesday, PHL time) and then beat them up over the final 15 minutes of a must-have game on their home floor. “They’re a good team,” Eric Gordon said, stating the obvious. "They’ve been playing together, they know who they are. They’ve been to four straight Western Conference finals. We just got to be a little better.” The Rockets’ must-win game is now Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time). The pressure shifts to a Game 2 effort that has to be much better offensively if they want to keep pace with the Warriors. They’ll also need a much cleaner effort that doesn’t include sloppiness (the Warriors converted 16 turnovers into 17 points) and deficient defense (the Warriors shot .525 from the floor and .394 from the three-point line) that was on display in Game 1. These are all things D’Antoni believes to be correctable. And they could be. Indeed, they better be if the Rockets plan on stretching this series to the limit. Because there is still no way to account for the experience factor, the muscle memory edge the Warriors have when it comes to recognizing the time and place to apply the ultimate pressure on an opponent that’s ready to break. They sniffed it late in the third quarter, when the Rockets were reeling under a relentless barrage of Durant buckets. The only thing that saved them then were crucial baskets of their own from Eric Gordon and Gerald Green, and Warriors coach Steve Kerr subbing Durant out for a breather the Warriors closer did not want. “Yeah, he wasn’t really thrilled and I probably should have left him in,” Kerr said. “Late third he was going pretty well. I knew I had to get him some rest at some point. As soon as I took him out, they went on a quick run, so he was not thrilled. But he came back in and got us back on track.” You can toy with a team like the Minnesota Timberwolves in the first round, dropping Game 3 on the road only to come back and close out the series with back-to-back wins, especially when you are clearly the superior team and own that coveted home-court advantage. You might be able to get away with it in next round against a team like the Utah Jazz, when you lose home-court advantage in Game 2, but are are once again clearly the superior team and win three straight games to squash that challenge. Slip up a third time, as the Rockets did Monday night (Tuesday, PHL time), against a team that has won two of the last three Larry O’Brien trophies, a team with their sights set on a third, and … and there might not be another chance. Sekou Smith is a veteran NBA reporter and NBA TV analyst. 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 NewsMay 15th, 2018

Long-awaited matchup arrives for Rockets, Warriors

By Sekou Smith, NBA.com James Harden and the Rockets must get past the Warriors to reach their first Finals since 1995. Finally, it’s here. The series the NBA world has been waiting for from the moment Chris Paul requested a trade last summer that sent him to the Houston Rockets to join forces with James Harden has arrived. It's the Rockets vs. the four-time Western Conference and two-time NBA champion Golden State Warriors for West supremacy. The Rockets had a feeling they could see this journey through to this point, even when the teams met on opening night at Oracle Arena. Houston was built to beat the champs, and did it twice in their three regular season encounters. Rockets center Clint Capela voiced his opinions on the matchup after a January win, saying his team was superior to the champs. And he’s just as eager for this match up, in which the Rockets hold home-court advantage. “I’m real excited,” Capela said. “This [Warriors] team is going to be hard, it’s going to be a fight. There’s going to be a lot of adjustments after every game. It’s going to be a chess game. Of course, we’re going to be ready. They’ve been to The Finals three straight years. So we’re just excited. Everybody's excited about it. I’m sure all the NBA fans are excited about it, too.” The Warriors are fired up, too, and have heard all the chirping. “Now you’ve got to play the game,” All-Star forward Draymond Green said. “You wanted us, now you’ve got us.” The Warriors are attempting to conquer the West for a fourth straight season, but this will be their first West finals without home-court advantage. Doing it against a team specifically designed to take them down just adds to a battle wrought with connections. Harden, Paul, Green, Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson all won gold medals together, be it on the Olympic or World Cup of Basketball stage. Harden and Durant were teammates on the Oklahoma City Thunder team that lost The Finals in 2012. Paul’s LA Clippers squad in 2014 was the last West foe to knock the Warriors out of the playoffs before The Finals. And the Rockets were the team the Warriors beat in the 2015 West finals to jump-start their would-be dynasty. Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni pioneered the style the Warriors have used to dominate the league while he was coaching in Phoenix, where Warriors coach Steve Kerr was the Suns GM. The three-pointers will fly from all directions. Both teams are capable of defending at a championship level. The personnel on both sides is ideally matched. Perhaps best of all, though, is that both teams are healthy and without any ready-made excuses overshadowing this showdown. It’s best on best, a test of collective wills between the “cream of the Western Conference crop,” as Curry declared after the Warriors and Rockets each won their West semifinal series just hours apart on May 8 (May 9, PHL time). The NBA world has been waiting on this heavyweight showdown. Now, it’s finally here. 3 quick questions and answers 1. Who flinches first, Kerr with his “Hamptons Five” lineup or D’Antoni with his Harden-Paul-Capela trio? Against every other team in the league, the Warriors’ small-ball unit of Durant, Thompson, Curry, Green and Andre Iguodala has a clear advantage. No one else has three shooters like Durant, Curry and Thompson playing alongside the versatile Green and Iguodala. The Rockets come close with Harden, Paul and Capela alongside defensive specialists and three-point marksmen Trevor Ariza and P.J. Tucker. It’ll be a fascinating study in styles watching them matchup against each other. But advantage Warriors ... until we see someone crack the code against the "Hamptons Five." 2. What’s more valuable -- Houston's home-court advantage or Golden State's experience? Home-court advantage is always preferred. The Warriors know that. It’s been good to them in each of the past three seasons grinding through the West playoffs to The Finals. But it’s not infallible (as the Cleveland Cavaliers taught us, rallying from a 3-1 Finals deficit to take Game 7 at Oracle Arena). Which is exactly why the Rockets need to have the threat level turned all the way up for Games 1 and 2. Lose either one of the first two games at Toyota Center and the Warriors will pounce in this series. 3. Who is the biggest wild card for each team? And, are they capable of swinging this series? It’s Eric Gordon for the Rockets and whichever big man (JaVale McGee, Zaza Pachulia, Kevon Looney or perhaps Jordan Bell) that Kerr taps for service for the Warriors. Gordon has to shoot more consistently than he has thus far in the playoffs (34.2 percent overall, 31.4 percent on three-pointers) if the Rockets hope to match the Warriors basket for basket. The Warriors have a big man for basically every season, it’s just a matter of which one will fare best against a much-improved Capela. He has outplayed two more heralded bigs (All-Star Karl-Anthony Towns and the Jazz's Rudy Gobert) in each of the Rockets’ series to date. Overall, though, there's too much star power in this series for any role player to swing the momentum for more than a few minutes. The number to know 100.7 --The two best offensive teams in the regular season have been the two best defensive teams in the playoffs, combining to allow just 100.7 points per 100 possessions on their way to the conference finals. In the first round, the Rockets and Warriors held the Minnesota Timberwolves and San Antonio Spurs to 5.6 and 5.2 fewer points per 100 possessions than they scored in the regular season, respectively. And in the conference semifinals, they held the Utah Jazz and New Orleans Pelicans to 7.0 and 16.2 fewer points per 100 possessions than they scored in the first round, respectively. The Rockets' starting lineup has allowed just 92 points per 100 possessions in its 153 minutes, having forced more than 21 turnovers per 100 (the best mark among lineups that have played at least 75 minutes). The Warriors' "Hamptons Five" lineup, meanwhile, has allowed less than 87 points per 100 possessions in its 54 minutes, and the champs have allowed just 94 points per 100 possessions in 250 total minutes with Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala on the floor together. These teams aren't just here because of how potent their offenses are, and the team that advances to The Finals will be the one that continues to defend at a high level. -- John Schuhmann Making the pick The Rockets made it their mission to put together a group to avenge their 2015 and 2016 playoff failures, with the Warriors serving as their primary target. They’ve got home-court advantage, an inspired Paul and what appears to be all of the requisite parts needed to interrupt the Warriors’ dynasty plans. But do they have the nerve to snatch it all from Golden State, which took a measured approach to 2017-18 and has seemingly flipped the proverbial with another championship run on the line? Experience over ambition this time. Warriors in 6. Sekou Smith is a veteran NBA reporter and NBA TV analyst. 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 NewsMay 11th, 2018

MVP Ladder: Davis shrugs off pain, makes case for MVP

By Sekou Smith, NBA.com You’ll have to forgive New Orleans Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry for not feeling the need to mount some coordinated public campaign for Anthony Davis for Kia MVP. Gentry figures the voters have eyes, so they've seen the same jaw-dropping things from the superstar big man that he sees every night. “He’s great, man. Just an absolutely great player in every aspect,” Gentry said in a hallway at the Smoothie King Center after Davis and the Pelicans came up short in a critical game against the Portland Trail Blazers. “You want to know what kind of guy he is? He’s in there beating himself up saying he should have done more. What more could he have done? He got 36 and 14 with three guys handing on him all night. Come on, man, he’s just a great, great player.” Davis finished with 36 points, 14 rebounds, six blocks and played the final 17 minutes in pain after injuring his left ankle late in the third quarter. He took a minute to shake it off and finished the game favoring the ankle, that required treatment after the game. These are the sorts of performances he’s turned in routinely this season, particularly since the Pelicans’ other All-Star big man, DeMarcus Cousins, went down with a season-ending Achilles injury Jan. 26 (Jan. 27, PHL time). He and Cousins were on pace to become the first pair of teammates in NBA history to each average better than 25 points and 10 rebounds. Davis is averaging 31.1 points, 12.3  rebounds and 3.6 blocks since the All-Star break, after averaging 27.4, 10.7 and 2.1 in the 51 games before the break. So the “M-V-P” chants he heard in those final minutes against the Trail Blazers were well warranted for a player with range and versatility as a two-way performer that might be unrivaled in the league. “I can only think of a couple guys in this league who can impact a game the way he can from end to end. It’s AD and … ” Gentry said, before a reporter blurted out the name of the other player he was thinking of, “yeah, LeBron. I mean, these guys can guard from the three-point line to the rim and can score from those same spaces on anybody. Guys like that, wth that ability and those talents, they are just very rare.” James and Davis (who occupy the No. 2 and 3 spots, respectively, in this week’s Kia Race to the MVP Ladder) will square off today at Quicken Loans Arena. It’ll be another chance for Davis to be measured against the league’s standard-bearer in regards to the MVP conversation. James has four MVPs in his war chest, and could (and probably should) have a couple more. Meanwhile, Davis is still searching for his first. At 33, James has shown a durability and staying power that Davis, 25, is also still searching for. If there is a knock on his game, it’s that he’s struggled with injuries, bumps and bruises to a degree that’s greater than you’d expect from a player as physically gifted as the 6'11", 253-pound dynamo. Tuesday night’s (Wednesday, PHL time) spill against the Trail Blazers marked the 11th time this season Davis has had to exit a game because of an injury. The reaction of the crowd, a collective hush as Davis writhed in pain under the basket, was followed by wild cheers when he got to his feet and limped to the bench. Davis refused to go to the locker room, choosing instead to take a moment to gather himself and return to the game, knowing the severity of his injury was overshadowed by the weight of the Pelicans’ current predicament. They need every single game to reach the postseason for just the second time in his career, the same postseason he suggested the Pelicans would have dominated had Cousins not gotten injured. That’s why he’ll play through whatever lingering discomfort he has to against the Cavaliers tonight. The gravity of the Pelicans’ situation demands that he fight through the pain, dust himself off and get back on the floor the same way he did Tuesday night (Wednesday, PHL time). “Just knowing the type of situation we’re in,” Davis told reporters in New Orleans Thursday (Friday, PHL time), “I just wanted to be on the floor. I felt I couldn't leave that game, even though it was bothering me. I just tried to tough it out and just play through it.” * * * The top five in the Week 24 edition of the 2017-18 Kia Race to the MVP Ladder: * * * 1. James Harden, Houston Rockets Last week: No. 1 Season stats: 30.7 points, 8.7 assists, 5.4 rebounds Harden took a rare night off Tuesday (Wednesday, PHL time) and the Rockets still rolled over the Chicago Bulls. The Rockets are good enough to go on auto-pilot the way they’re playing. They’ve already set the franchise record for wins in a season and secured the Western Conference's No. 1 seed ... all with seven games to go in their season. Harden’s work from the start of training camp has been the catalyst for this special season for the Rockets. He worked to integrate the new additions to the lineup, but did so without sacrificing any of the things that made him the strong MVP candidate he was last season. Topping his performance from last season should be more than enough to secure his first Kia MVP. The official word will come on June 25 (June 26, PHL time) at the NBA Awards show. But with the way the Rockets have played down the stretch of this season with Harden leading the way, the suspense in this MVP chase has evaporated. 2. LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers Last week: No. 2 Season stats: 27.6 points, 9.1 assists, 8.6 rebounds You have to appreciate LeBron’s admission that he would indeed vote for himself if he had a say in the race for the Kia MVP. And it’s hard to argue with his logic. Given all that the Cavaliers have endured since Kyrie Irving’s trade request was made public, it’s truly remarkable that he’s been able to compartmentalize the way he has and continue to play at an otherworldly level. If not for James Harden, LeBron would be clearing space on his mantle for his fifth Maurice Podoloff Trophy. Instead, he’ll have to settle for another season of milestones and his continued assault on nearly every career statistic the league has to offer. Not to mention he's still on track to play all 82 games for the first time in his career. And if you were wondering how the old man (relatively speaking, of course) bounces back after tough night (18 points in their Wednesday, PHL time, loss to Miami), catch the highlights from his 41-point, 10-rebound, eight-assist masterpiece in Charlotte on the second night of a back-to-back set. 3. Anthony Davis, New Orleans Pelicans Last week: No. 4 Season stats: 28.3 points, 11.1 rebounds, 2.5 blocks Back-to-back losses at Houston and at home to Portland have put Davis and the Pelicans in a familiar position in the Western Conference playoff chase. Every game until the finish is a must-win affair, with today’s tilt against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers serving as the ideal showcase for Davis. He’s been an absolute monster of late (29.6 points, 11.5 rebounds, 3.8 blocks and 2.4 assists in his last 10 games). He knows what it will take to push the Pelicans into the playoff mix without DeMarcus Cousins, as that is something Davis had to do three years ago to secure his lone playoff voyage. It took a home win over San Antonio on the final night of the regular season to clinch a spot and it might take the same this time around -- Davis and the Pelicans finish up the regular season April 11 (April 12, PHL time) with a home game against the Spurs. 4. DeMar DeRozan, Toronto Raptors Last week: No. 3 Season stats: 23.3 points, 5.2 assists, 3.9 rebounds Saturday’s trip game in Boston (Sunday, PHL time) couldn't have come at a better time for DeRozan and the Raptors, who still have some work to do secure the top spot in the Eastern Conference. Their lead over the Celtics is down to three games. Given Toronto's recent losses to the Cavs and LA Clippers, a statement win on the road against the surging Celtics would go a long way towards resetting the Raptors' collective confidence. DeRozan’s continued evolution as a playmaker has remained on full display (15 assists in his last two games) and will be crucial to the Raptors’ offensive effectiveness in the playoffs. That's assuming coach Dwane Casey does indeed plan to keep his rotation as deep in the playoffs as he has all season. But the scoring prowess that has propelled DeRozan to All-Star status the past four seasons will be just as important, if not more so, given the relative inexperience of several of the Raptors’ role players. Both DeRozan and fellow All-Star Kyle Lowry know how vital it will be for them to be in a good rhythm for the postseason. 5. Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers Last week: No. 5 Season stats: 26.8 points, 6.5 assists, 4.5 rebounds Lillard was spectacular in a critical road win in New Orleans Tuesday night, finishing with a game-high 41 points (and nine rebounds, six assists and four steals). He did all that while out-dueling fellow MVP candidate Davis in what was a thrilling, must-see fourth quarter. It didn’t matter who was guarding Lillard -- sometimes it was Davis and other times it was Pelicans defensive wiz Jrue Holiday. Lillard was locked in and on absolute fire in a playoff atmosphere. His importance to the Trail Blazers, though, was even more evident a night later when he was missing from a deflating road loss to in Memphis. Lillard missed the game for a good reason: the birth of his son. But it should be clear by now that these Trail Blazers will go only as far as the mercurial Lillard can take them in the postseason. C.J. McCollum is as good a No. 2 option as you’ll find and Terry Stotts has done Coach of the Year-caliber in developing the roster. It’s Lillard’s scoring and playmaking, however, that takes them from a solid team to a top-three seed in the Western Conference. The next five: 6. Kevin Durant, Golden State Warriors 7. Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder 8. Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors 9. Kyrie Irving, Boston Celtics 10. Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota Timberwolves And five more ... LaMarcus Aldridge, San Antonio Spurs; Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks; Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers; Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets; Victor Oladipo, Indiana Pacers Next up? An inside look at LaMarcus Aldridge from an Western Conference advance scout: “I would love to know exactly what was said in the conversation he had with [Spurs coach Gregg] Pop[ovich] after last season, from both sides. Because whatever it was, it’s produced the best season I’ve seen from LA since he’s been in the league. And I’m dating that back to his best years in Portland. The Spurs aren't close to the team they are with all of the heavy lifting he’s done this season. He’s been more physical and much more active on the defensive end than he was last season and obviously, with Kawhi Leonard missing from the lineup for basically the entire season, his responsibilities as the No. 1 option for them offensively has been tremendous. He’s always been a skilled, face-up big. Working from the L and on the baseline extended, he’s as tough a cover as you’ll find at that position. "He embraced the other stuff, though, and perhaps at Pop’s urging. He’s made himself a more physical presence around the basket and at the rim. When he’s working in space against opposing [centers], that’s when he really has an advantage, because he’ll abuse guys his size and bigger who aren’t as mobile, guys who cannot match his quickness. He’s not an above the rim guy or a rim protector that causes you any concern, but he’s stronger than he looks and this season, he’s mixed it up more when necessary. He’s been more physical than usual. I’d suggest that’s a direct result of what Pop was trying to convey to him. Without Kawhi out there, someone had to play that role as their offensive catalyst and to do that LaMarcus was going to have to toughen up and show more fire than he did last season. I give him credit for stepping up to that challenge. I’ll admit, I was a bit of a skeptic when he was the hot free agent name a couple summers back. It’s easy to forget that. He was the player everybody wanted and the Spurs got him. And it seems like he’s finally comfortable there now in the role he’s playing leading that team right now. I’ve gained a lot of respect for him and his game with the way he’s played this season.” Sekou Smith is a veteran NBA reporter and NBA TV analyst. 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 31st, 2018

No Bull: Buffalo pulls off big upset, knocks off Arizona

Results from the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Thursday (Friday, PHL time): ___ EAST REGION ALABAMA 86, VIRGINIA TECH 83 PITTSBURGH (AP) — Collin Sexton scored 21 of his team-high 24 points after halftime to lead Alabama over Virginia Tech for the Crimson Tide's first NCAA Tournament win in a dozen years. John Petty kept ninth-seeded Alabama (20-15) in it while Sexton struggled during a sluggish opening half and finished with 20 points while shooting 6 of 8 on 3-pointers. Sexton found a rhythm in the second half, including a handful of big shots over the final five minutes to give the Crimson Tide a bit of breathing room in a game that featured 10 lead changes, with no team ever being up by more than seven points. Justin Robinson scored 19 points to lead the eighth-seeded Hokies (21-12). FLORIDA 77, ST. BONAVENTURE 62 DALLAS (AP) — Egor Koulechov scored 20 points and Florida eased past St. Bonaventure, ending the Bonnies' postseason run two days after their first NCAA Tournament victory in 48 years. Jalen Hudson scored 16 points and Chris Chiozza had 11 assists for the sixth-seeded Gators (21-12), who have reached the Elite Eight the past five times they've been in the tournament. A whirlwind week finally caught up with the Bonnies (26-8), who finished at 35 percent shooting but were in the 20s when the outcome was in doubt. Courtney Stockard led St. Bonaventure with 14 points after scoring 26 in a win over UCLA in a First Four game in Dayton, Ohio, on Tuesday. VILLANOVA 87, RADFORD 61 PITTSBURGH (AP) — Jalen Brunson scored 16 points and top-seeded Villanova hit 14 3-pointers to rout Radford. The Wildcats (31-4) played to near-perfection for the first 30 minutes and led 44-23 at halftime. The Highlanders (23-13) posed no threat at becoming the first 16 seed to ever knock off a No. 1 in the tournament. TEXAS TECH 70, STEPHEN F. AUSTIN 60 DALLAS (AP) — Keenan Evans scored 19 of his 23 points after halftime and third-seeded Texas Tech ended the game on a 13-2 run. Evans' layup with 3:58 left put the Big 12 runner-up Red Raiders (25-9) ahead to stay. Texas Tech will next play the winner of the Florida-St. Bonaventure game. SFA (28-7), the Southland Conference tournament champion, led by eight early in the second half. ___ SOUTH REGION BUFFALO 89, ARIZONA 68 BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Wes Clark scored 25 points, Jeremy Harris added 23 and No. 13 seed Buffalo pulled off the biggest upset of the opening round, rolling over No. 4 seed Arizona. The smaller Bulls (27-8) used their quickness to zip around the Wildcats (27-8), scoring at the rim and on kickout 3-pointers. Defensively, Buffalo neutralized Arizona's size inside by collapsing on the paint, forcing the Wildcats to shoot from the perimeter. Arizona went 2 for 18 from beyond the 3-point arc, while the Bulls knocked down 15 of 30. CJ Massinburg had 19 points and Buffalo shredded Arizona's defense at a 55-percent clip for the program's first NCAA Tournament win. TENNESSEE 73, WRIGHT STATE 47 DALLAS (AP) — Admiral Schofield had 15 points and 12 rebounds as third-seeded Tennessee advanced to the second round by overwhelming Wright State. Lamonte Turner had 19 points and a career-high nine assists for the Volunteers (26-8), SEC co-champions in the regular season after being picked in the preseason to finish 13th in the 14-team league. They'll next play Loyola-Chicago on Saturday. Wright State (25-10) was the Horizon League tournament champ. KENTUCKY 78, DAVIDSON 73 BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Kentucky didn't make a 3-point for the first time in a game since 1988, but still did enough to top Davidson. Fifth-seeded Kentucky (25-10) went 0 for 6 from behind arc after hitting a 3 in a nation-best streak of 1,047 games. Kevin Knox scored 25 for Kentucky, which next plays the Arizona-Buffalo winner. Davidson (21-12) made 11 3-pointers, led by six from Jon Axel Gudmundsson, who finished with 21 points. LOYOLA-CHICAGO 64, MIAMI 62 DALLAS (AP) — Donte Ingram hit a 3-pointer from the March Madness logo just before the buzzer, lifting Loyola-Chicago over Miami 64-62 in its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1985. Ingram's long shot came from well above the key. The 11th-seeded Ramblers (29-5) matched the school record for wins from their 1963 national championship team. Loyola was boosted by a pregame prayer from its team chaplain, 98-year-old Sister Jean Dolores Schmidt. The buzzer sounded as Ingram's shot went in, but officials put 0.3 seconds back on the clock. A desperation pass by Miami (22-10) bounced away harmlessly. ___ MIDWEST REGION KANSAS 76, PENN 60 WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Devonte Graham ignited sluggish Kansas midway through the first half, pouring in 29 points and lifting his top-seeded team. Lagerald Vick added 14 points for the Jayhawks (28-7), who trailed the Ivy League champs 21-11 with about 7 minutes left in the first half. Kansas advanced to play Seton Hall. A.J. Brodeur had 14 points to lead the Quakers (24-9). DUKE 89, IONA 67 PITTSBURGH (AP) — Marvin Bagley III dominated in his NCAA Tournament debut, pouring in 22 points to go with seven rebounds as Duke rolled. The Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Year made 10 of 14 shots in 32 minutes and grabbed seven rebounds. Grayson Allen scored 16 points as the second-seeded Blue Devils (27-7) powered past 15th-seeded Iona (26-7). Duke will next play Rhode Island. RHODE ISLAND 83, OKLAHOMA 78, OT PITTSBURGH (AP) — E.C. Matthews hit the go-ahead 3-pointer in overtime and Rhode Island topped dynamic scorer Trae Young and the Sooners. The seventh-seeded Rams (26-7) won a game in the NCAA Tournament for the second straight season and will play Duke on Saturday. Young scored 28 points on 9-for-18 shooting with six turnovers. The freshman scored 13 straight points for Oklahoma (18-14) late in regulation and made two free throws to open OT. SETON HALL 94, NORTH CAROLINA STATE 83 WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Khadeen Carrington scored 26 points, Desi Rodriguez added 20 and eighth-seeded Seton Hall won a foul-filled first-round matchup. Myles Powell added 19 points and Angel Delgado scored 13 for the Pirates (22-11), who led the entire way a year after a late meltdown cost them against Arkansas. Allerik Freeman hit six 3-pointers and had 36 points to lead No. 9 seed North Carolina State (21-12). The only thing that slowed down the high-scoring, up-and-down matchup was the whistles. The teams combined for 53 fouls. ___ WEST REGION MICHIGAN 61, MONTANA 47 WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Charles Matthews had 20 points and 11 rebounds, Michigan locked down on defense and the third-seeded Wolverines beat Montana in a plodding game. Michigan (29-7) trailed by 10 in the opening minutes, struggled to get into rhythm until late in the first half, and never really went on a big run to seize control of the game. Instead, coach John Beilein's team methodically drew away over a long period of the second half when No. 14 seed Montana (25-8) failed to score. Michael Oguine and Ahmaad Rorie scored 15 points apiece to lead the Grizzlies. GONZAGA 68, UNC GREENSBORO 64 BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Zach Norvell Jr. hit the go-ahead 3-pointer with 20.8 seconds left to help Gonzaga escape a major scare. The fourth-seeded Bulldogs (31-4) trailed 64-62 with 1:48 left after squandering a 12-point lead they took early in the second half. Gonzaga, in its 20th straight NCAA tournament, won its first game of March Madness for the 10th year in a row. UNC Greensboro (27-8) was the Southern Conference champ. OHIO STATE 81, SOUTH DAKOTA STATE 73 BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Kam Williams made a tiebreaking four-point play with 1:36 left, then added a trio of free throws after being fouled on another 3-point attempt to lift Ohio State. The fifth-seeded Buckeyes (25-8) built a 13-point lead by reeling off 16 straight points midway through the second half. Ohio State advanced to play Gonzaga. The teams met in November and the Zags romped 86-59. Mike Daum scored 27 points for 12th-seeded South Dakota State (28-7). HOUSTON 67, SAN DIEGO STATE 65 WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Rob Gray scored 39 points, including a wind-milling layup that just trickled over the rim with 1.1 seconds left that lifted sixth-seeded Houston. Trey Kell's off-balance 3-pointer at the buzzer was no good for 11th-seeded San Diego State (22-11). Houston (27-7) posted its first tournament win since 1984......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMar 16th, 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

Angels welcome Ohtani, plot course for 2-way Japanese star

GREG BEACHAM, AP Sports Writer ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — General manager Billy Eppler rose from his seat in rapturous joy when he got the phone call telling him Shohei Ohtani wanted to join the Los Angeles Angels. When Eppler attempted to sit back down, he missed his chair completely, sprawling onto the floor. Ohtani has inspired strong reactions ever since the world became aware of the Japanese star's formidable talent as both a pitcher and a hitter. Now that the Angels have landed such a coveted prize, they can't wait to see who else he can knock over. The Angels formally introduced Ohtani on Saturday, one day after the franchise won the baseball-wide competition for his services. A lively crowd gathered in front of Angel Stadium cheered when Ohtani donned a red No. 17 jersey and hat on stage with team owner Arte Moreno, manager Mike Scioscia and Eppler. Ohtani doesn't speak much English yet, but he stepped to the podium and addressed the fans confidently: "Hi. My name is Shohei Ohtani." Ohtani already knows how to work a crowd, too: He had the perfect answer when asked whether he was more excited to get his first pitching victory or his first homer in the big leagues. "Hopefully, if I can pull it off, maybe both in one game," he said through a translator. Ohtani's grand experiment with the Angels is off to an entertaining start. The league-wide courtship ended Friday with his decision to join Mike Trout and Albert Pujols in Orange County. The 23-year-old former Japanese MVP is attempting to become the majors' most significant two-way player in several decades, and he will have every opportunity to fill two prominent roles with the Angels. Ohtani is expected to join the Angels' starting rotation next season, and he will be their designated hitter on many days when he isn't pitching, Scioscia said. Ohtani won't play in the outfield "at the outset" of his career, which likely includes at least his first season in Anaheim, Eppler said. Ohtani's decision was the culmination of years of hard work for the scouts and personnel executives led by Eppler, who has been traveling to Japan since 2013 to see Ohtani. "There was a wow factor to him," Eppler said. "He was a little bit of a show-stopper. Big fastball. The ability to throw three off-speed pitches for strikes. And have the presence in the batter's box that we gravitated to. He fits a lot of our offensive philosophy." Although Eppler felt Ohtani would be an ideal fit with the Angels, he had no idea whether Ohtani would agree. Moreno led the Angels' presentation to Ohtani on Monday after he selected them as one of seven finalists, and they waited nervously for four days before getting the news. Ohtani didn't reveal all of his reasons for choosing the Angels over the Mariners, Rangers, Dodgers, Cubs, Yankees, Red Sox and every other club. "I just felt a strong connection with the Angels," Ohtani said through a translator. That's enough for the Angels, who believe they can provide every opportunity for Ohtani to cultivate the two-way skills that have inspired comparisons to a young Babe Ruth. The Angels believe Ohtani has the intensity and focus to do something unprecedented in recent baseball history. "This guy consumes all things baseball," Eppler said. "There is not a lot else going on in his world but baseball (and) training. He does like to read a lot." Eppler also described Ohtani as "very humble," and compared his mental makeup to that of Trout, whose video phone call to recruit Ohtani apparently went quite well. Trout, on the East Coast for his wedding this weekend, called Eppler late Monday night after the meeting to ask: "What's he like? What's he like?" "He's like you," Eppler replied. "He's simple, humble, and he wants to be great." Ohtani took a moment during his news conference to send good wishes to the two-time MVP for his wedding. And when asked why he had chosen No. 17 after wearing No. 11 in Japan, Ohtani quipped: "I actually wanted No. 27, but somebody else (Trout) was wearing that number." About 200 media members were on hand for Ohtani's arrival, including dozens from Japanese news outlets. Ohtani and the Angels realize his every move will be chronicled on a daily basis with likely the same fervor around Ichiro Suzuki and Hideki Matsui in their heyday, but judging by his confident performance in his first major appearance, it's nothing Ohtani can't handle. Ohtani's performance on the field is more important, and the Angels expect him to be an immediate hit there as well. Angel Stadium's team shop already was doing a brisk business selling large piles of Ohtani jerseys and T-shirts on his first full day with the club. "I think it's going to be something very, very special for our fans," Scioscia said. "Every player, to a man, is so excited about this acquisition. Our job is to see exactly how you get a multidimensional, two-way athlete like Shohei to bring his talent on the field often enough where he leads us to that championship." ___ More AP MLB: www.apnews.com/tags/MLBbaseball.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 10th, 2017

Besties!

Kakai Bautista and Ahron Villena prove its hard to knock down genuine friendship as theirs. Besties! Kakai Bautista and Ahron Villena prove its hard to knock down genuine friendship as theirs. Source link: Besties!.....»»

Category: newsSource:  manilainformerRelated NewsJul 21st, 2018

Ali Wong, Typo X Kelloggs, Evil Genius and more

  Ali Wong Okay, confession time. We're officially in love with Ali Wong. The "Fresh Off The Boat" writer first got our attention with her Netflix comedy special "Baby Cobra." We saw the poster and thought, what's this very pregnant woman doing recording a show when it looks like her water's about to break at any moment? What if she goes into labor mid-joke? (Spoiler alert: She doesn't.) We watched and we were hooked, so hooked that we watched it again, so hooked that we forced friends to watch it too, so hooked that we watched "Hard Knock Wife," her second Netflix special, the very day it was released. It came out on Mother's Day---very fitting, since Ali was once again ver...Keep on reading: Ali Wong, Typo X Kelloggs, Evil Genius and more.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsJun 3rd, 2018

Will Gozum, Fighting Maroons knock out Lyceum in City Hoops

Despite facing a very different Lyceum compared to the team they took on in the elimination round, UP was unfazed, demolishing the Pirates, 76-53, last Saturday in Greenhills. With the win, the Fighting Maroons advance to the next round of the 2018 SMART City Hoops 25-Under Summer Classic. They will next take on either Letran or Ateneo in the semifinals. Though third-year head coach Bo Perasol does not want to choose who he wants to face, the amiable tactician is hoping that his team continues to play with the same grit they displayed in the quarterfinals. "What I liked the most was how we played defense. It was physical. It's something that says that we want to win," Perasol expressed. "Yun yung gusto ko makita, yung desire nila to be better and improve. Games like these are the payoff of what we have been practicing." For the first time since winning the 2018 PBA D-League Aspirants Cup, the Pirates fielded their Team A sans CJ Perez and MJ Ayaay - both of whom are still training in the US. However, the effects of the long layoff were clearly evident as Mike Nzeusseu, who finished the game with 12 points but gobbled up just four boards, and the Marcelino twins, who combined for just 10 points while totalling five turnovers, were off their game. The Fighting Maroons took advantage of this in the second frame as the quartet of Bright Akhuetie, Will Gozum, Jaydee Tungcab, and Paul Desiderio blasted Lyceum's press. UP's lead balooned to as high as 29 points in the final frame, 74-45. Gozum powered UP with 15 points on 5-of-6 shooting while Desiderio and Tungcab had 12 and 11 points, respectively. Akhuetie added 10 markers and six boards. A scary moment occured during the game for the Fighting Maroons, however, as incoming sophomore Juan Gomez de Liano suffered a sprained left ankle with 9:12 left in the game and did not return. "It hurts but I'll be fine," said the UAAP Season 80 Rookie of the Year. Meanwhile, in the championship of the younger year levels, La Salle Greenhills entered the day hoping for a double championship only to see Xavier School having other plans. To open the day, the Greenies outlasted San Sebastian College-Recoletos 65-58, to win the 12-Under championship. Brian Hachuela paced LSGH with 17 points and 18 rebounds while tournament MVP Minas added 14 markers. However, Xavier did not allow a double celebration to take place as they were able to cap their Cinderella run in the tournament by stunning the previously-unbeaten Greenies, 39-34, for the 10-Under title. Mythical Five member Andrew Chio led the Stallions with 14 points and nine rebounds while Yuan finished with a double-double with 10 points and 14 rebounds. BOX SCORES 25U QUARTERFINALS UP 76 - Gozum 15, Desiderio 12, Tungcab 11, Akhuetie 10, Manzo 8, Lim 6, Prado 6, Gomez de Liano Ju. 4, Santiago 2, Murell 2, Longga 0, Espanola 0. LYCEUM 53 - Nzeusseu 12, Marcelino JC 8, Tansingco 6, Ibanez 6, Pericas 5, Yong 4, Caduyac 3, Mahinay 3, Marcelino JV 2, Pretta 2, Cinco 2, Guinto 0, Serrano 0. QUARTER SCORES: 13-10, 27-21, 51-38, 76-53 12U FINALS LSGH 65 - Hachuela 17, Minas 14, Hizon 11, Gomez 10, Cortez 4, Sison 4, Peralta 3, Jugo 2, Muyuela 0, Torres 0, Ventura 0. SAN SEBASTIAN 58 - Galindez 14, Manding 10, Lopez 9, Guanzon 8, Ramilio 6, Lugtu 7, Manalad 3, Delos Santos 2, Bariacto 0, Aran 0, Yran 0, Aran 0. QUARTER SCORES: 12-10, 25-24, 51-40, 65-58. 10U FINALS XAVIER 34 - Chio 14, Yu 10, Tangsoc 6, Lagar 5, Yaumontek 2, Lugapo 2, Ibanez 0, Gensolin 0, De Leon 0, Go 0, Krin 0, Calina 0. LSGH 34 - Nonato 11, Garama 7, Tuason 7, Victolero 5, Villacencio 2, Talusan 2, Cruz 0, Legarde 0, Paras 0, Hizon 0, Rosales 0, Nagano 0, Dulay 0, Delos Reyes 0. QUARTER SCORES: 4-4, 18-15, 24-25, 39-34......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 28th, 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

He The North: LeBron s bank at buzzer downs Raptors

By Tom Withers, Associated PRess CLEVELAND (AP) -- LeBron James banked in a running one-hander at the buzzer, giving Cleveland a 105-103 win over Toronto on Saturday night (Sunday, PHL time) in Game 3 and shoving the Raptors to the edge of their most devastating playoff exit. After the Raptors tied it on rookie OG Anunoby's three-pointer with eight seconds left, James took the inbounds pass, dribbled the length of the floor and in one motion, dropped his 10-footer in front of Toronto's stunned bench. The Cavs ran and mobbed James and moments later he was back up on the scorer's table - just like after a game-winner against Indiana last round - to celebrate a win that was up for grabs. James finished with 38 points, Kevin Love added 21 and 16 rebounds and Kyle Korver 18 for the Cavs, who can sweep the Raptors for the second straight year. Kyle Lowry scored 27 for Toronto, which clawed back in the fourth quarter with All-Star DeMar DeRozan on the bench. After winning two games in Canada, the Cavs came home and won a brawl with the Raptors, who just can't beat James. He's 11-2 against Toronto in the past three postseasons. The three-time champion has ended the Raptors' past two seasons, and despite playing with a different supporting cast, James is one win from a Toronto trifecta. We The North? He The North. Game 4 is Monday night (Tuesday, PHL time), and the odds are stacked against the rattled Raptors. Of the 129 teams in NBA history to fall behind 3-0, none has come back to win. This was supposed to be the Raptors' season, the one that ended in triumph over James. Toronto had the East's best record, the No. 1 seed, home-court advantage and a Cleveland team that appeared very beatable. But the Cavs stole Game 1 by a point in overtime, and James scored 43 in a magnificent Game 2 performance. He then delivered a series-and-season ending dagger with another moment that belongs with any in his remarkable career. The first half ended in frustration for the Raptors with DeRozan, coach Dwane Casey and his assistants screaming at the officials following a sequence that went against them. Serge Ibaka's basket was originally counted and then waved off by the referees, and the reversal was doubly painful as Love buried a three-pointer to put the Cavs ahead by 13. Jeff Green's layup just before the horn made it 55-40 and an incensed Casey, his suit coat flying open and his tie jumping off his chest, stormed off the floor. Desperate to find something, anything, to slow down the Cavs, Casey changed his starting lineup for Game 3. He inserted six-foot guard Fred VanVleet and benched forward Serge Ibaka, going with a smaller lineup to push the pace. However, Toronto started 2-of-11 from the field and the Raptors were quickly down 12 and seemingly in big trouble when DeRozan picked up his second foul and went to the bench. TIP-INS Raptors: Casey has been criticized for some moves - and ones he hasn't made - in the series. He's also aware of the narrative that his team has been mentally defeated by James. ''It's not in my head,'' he said. ''It's disappointing. It reminds me of back in the days of having to get over the hurdle of [Michael] Jordan. At some point you've got to get over that hurdle, you've got to knock it down, you've got to knock the wall down.'' ... Fell to 0-6 in playoff games in Cleveland, tying Atlanta for the worst postseason record by an opponent. Cavaliers: Several Cleveland players watched the dramatic finish of the 76ers-Celtics game from their locker-room chairs before tip-off. ... James moved past Tony Parker (226) for the fifth most games in postseason history. Derek Fisher (259) is the all-time leader followed by Tim Duncan (251), Robert Horry (244) and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (237). UP NEXT Game 4 is Monday night (Tuesday, PHL time)......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 6th, 2018

Rondina, Gervacio banner Pinays in FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour

The Philippines will be pinning its hopes on four women's pairs including that of high-flying University of Sto. Tomas standout Sisi Rondina and Dzi Gervacio in the main draw of the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour Manila Open set to open later this week at the Sands SM By The Bay.  Leading the charge for the host team is Rondina, a three-time UAAP beach volleyball champion and a member of the national squad that saw action in the 29th Southeast Asian Beach Volleyball Championships in Singapore with Bernadeth Pons. Other Filipinas competing are sand court veterans Charo Soriano and Bea Tan, two-time BVR national champions Karen Quilario and Lot Catubag, and wildcard entries DM Demontaño and Jackie Estoquia. A slew of talented international players vying for tournament points are arriving Thursday.        Paraguay's Michelle Amarilla, who with Gabriela Filippo battled with the legendary United States pair of April Ross and Kerri Walsh Jennings in the first knock-out round of the 2015 Beach Volleyball World Championships, will banner the 16-pair women's cast.       The highest rated team in the field, Amarilla will have Erika Bobadilla as her partner in the competition which the Philippines is making its hosting debut. The Paraguayans hope to bounce back in Manila after the duo failed to make it to the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour Malaysia Open semifinals in Langkawi last Sunday.      Ayumi Kusano, who played for Japan that won the Spike for Peace beach volleyball crown in 2015 at the Philsports Arena with Akiko Hasegawa, will return for another run at glory, this time with her partner Takemi Nishibori.      The young Netherlands pair of Katja Stam and Julia Wouters, who lost to Russia’s Ksenia Dabizha and Daria Mastikova in the women’s gold medal match of the Malaysia Open last Sunday, will also be worth-watching in the $10,000, one-star tournament.      Another player to watch out in the Manila Open is Lindsey Fuller, the 2014 US NVL Most Improved Player who will be paired with Kaley Melville for United States.      In the men's division, Austria’s Simon Fruhbauer and Jorg Wutzl, who earned their first FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour gold medal at the Malaysia Open last Sunday at the expense Russia’s Petr Bakhnar and Taras Myskiv, will be the tandem to watch out.      The Austrian pair has been playing together since 2016.      Silver medalists Bakhnar and Myskiv will also be here in Manila along with Germany's Paul Becker and Eric Stadie, who lost to Thailand's I. Nuttanon and P. Sedtawat in the bronze medal match in Langkawi Open last weekend.      The highest-rated team in the men's division is Sweden's Martin Apprelgen and Simon Boman, who placed ninth in Langkawi.         Among those early arrivals is Israel, which split its four tune-up sets with Filipinos James Pecaña and KR Guzman, and Ranran Abdilla and Edwin Tolentino Monday night.  Israel is among the 16 teams vying for four men's slots in the main draw.             BVR national champions Jade Becaldo and Calvin Sarte and Kevin Juban and Raphy Abanto complete the men's cast.      The competition will commence with the men's division qualifiers on Thursday and before moving into the main draw for women and men on Friday. The round of 12 and the quarterfinals are scheduled on Saturday with the semifinals and finals on Sunday. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 1st, 2018

Junkie pines for glory days with powerful benefactor

There was a time Luscious Jezebel was the toast of the town. LJ hooked a big fish, Randy Flame, who was immensely powerful that time. LJ thought the glory days would never end. Unfortunately, LJ wound up with the wrong type of crowd. LJ soon got hooked on drugs. Of course, RF dropped LJ like a hot potato. LJ quickly plunged into the depths of penury and despair. LJ now looks dazed and desperate. According to friends, LJ would often knock on their door to seek financial help. Tsk. Tsk. Smooth operator Speaking of cautionary tales . . . Hard-up Siren has seen better days. A source recalls that HS used to swim in dough. HS' fortunes, however, took a turn for the w...Keep on reading: Junkie pines for glory days with powerful benefactor.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsApr 24th, 2018

Ibaka scores 23, Raptors win Game 1, beat Wizards 114-106

By Ian Harrison, Associated Press TORONTO (AP) — Serge Ibaka had 23 points and 12 rebounds, Delon Wright scored 11 of his 18 points in the fourth quarter, and the Toronto Raptors snapped a 10-game losing streak in playoff series openers by beating the Washington Wizards 114-106 on Saturday (Sunday, PHL time). DeMar DeRozan added 17 points, C.J. Miles and OG Anunoby each had 12, and Kyle Lowry had 11 points and nine assists for the Raptors, whose only previous victory in the opening game of a playoff series came in the second round against Philadelphia in 2001. Toronto entered having lost an NBA-worst 10 consecutive Game 1s since, including six at home. The top-seeded team in the Eastern Conference, Toronto made 16-of-30 three-point attempts, with Miles making four, and Ibaka and Wright each hitting three. The Raptors host Game 2 on Tuesday (Wednesday, PHL time). John Wall had 23 points and 15 assists for the Wizards, while Markieff Morris had 22 points and 11 rebounds. Bradley Beal scored 19 points for Washington, while Mike Scott had 14 and Marcin Gortat 12. Washington led 91-88 when Scott was called for a flagrant foul after using his elbow to knock Lowry down early in the fourth. Lowry made both free throws and, on the ensuing possession, Wright gave Toronto the lead with a layup. After a missed shot by Morris, Miles hit a three to cap a 7-0 run that gave the Raptors a 95-91 lead with 9:26 left. Kelly Oubre Jr. hit a three and Gortat made a dunk to put Washington back in front, but Wright and Miles each hit three-pointers as Toronto used an 8-0 run to take a 103-96 lead with 6:27 left, and never trailed again. Anunoby made his first two three-pointers and led Toronto with eight points in the first as the Raptors led 28-23 after one. Wall scored nine points in the opening quarter. Gortat and replacement Ian Mahinmi each had two fouls before the first quarter was half over. Gortat picked up his first when he fouled Jonas Valanciunas on the opening tip. Beal scored seven points in the second, five of them in a 10-2 Wizards run that gave Washington a 42-41 lead with 6:20 left in the half. Scott had eight points in the quarter as the Wizards led 59-55 at halftime. Toronto reclaimed the lead with an 11-2 spurt to start the third. DeRozan scored 12 points in the quarter as the Raptors took a slim 86-85 lead into the fourth. The game was about five minutes late tipping off because of an apparent issue with moisture on the court along the baseline adjacent to Washington's bench. Arena staffers continued to dry the area periodically throughout the game. TIP-INS Wizards: Wall had six assists in the second quarter and 10 in the first half. ... Otto Porter started despite sitting out Wednesday's (Thursday, PHL time) season finale because of a strained right calf. ... Scott was available after going through the NBA concussion protocol. Raptors: Toronto had 11 turnovers in the first half, leading to 12 points for the Wizards. They finished with 17. ... G Fred VanVleet (bruised right shoulder) was not available. VanVleet was injured in Wednesday's (Thursday, PHL time) regular season finale. UP NEXT Game 2 is Tuesday night (Wednesday, PHL time) in Toronto......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 15th, 2018

Von s job with SMB is to shoot so he did just that

San Miguel's strength has always been derived from its first group. The Beermen are a top-heavy team. Everyone knows that. However, San Miguel does have some nice names on its bench and Von Pessumal proved Friday that the Beermen's second-unit can win some games just like the first group does. Coming off the bench to play just under 20 minutes, Pessumal fired a career-high 18 points, emerging as San Miguel's second leading scorer against Brgy Ginebra. The Beermen beat the Gin Kings to take an early 1-0 lead in their best-of-7 semifinal series in the 2018 PBA Philippine Cup. "Yung bench namin we believe na we're just as capable as the first group eh. Dapat ganun yung mindset di ba?" Pessumal said after his performance that saw him make seven out of ten shots from the field. "When you come in dapat sustain or even higher yung level of play namin. If we come in we have to sustain yung level or if possible, bring it higher just so when the starters come back in and close the game, it's easier," he added. With the Beermen featuring a loaded lineup, Von's main role with the team is to shoot. During Game 1 Friday, Pessumal did just that. "Ang dali ng basketball dito kasi bibigay mo lang kay June Mar sa post... parang yung spacing na the team provides, I get open so it's just my job to shoot and knock it down. Nothing special naman," he said. "Sinuklian ko lang si coach, kasi he's been encouraging me sa practice, even if I have some bad games talagang he gives me chances. Tapos yung teammates ko, may tiwala sila sakin, if I'm open they'll give it to me and they believe na I can knock it down. So sinuklian ko lang lahat sila," Pessumal added.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMar 9th, 2018

Pingris, Magnolia thriving in PBA’s physical play

For Marc Pingris, Magnolia needed a few bumps here and there to knock some sense back into the team. Bullied by the desperate GlobalPort to start the game to fall behind by as much as 20 in the first quarter, the two-seed Hotshots were shell-shocked as the prospects of wasting their twice-to-beat advantage slowly loomed… link: Pingris, Magnolia thriving in PBA’s physical play.....»»

Category: newsSource:  manilainformerRelated NewsMar 6th, 2018

Pingris, Magnolia thriving in PBA’s physical play

For Marc Pingris, Magnolia needed a few bumps here and there to knock some sense back into the team. Bullied by the desperate GlobalPort to start the game to fall behind by as much as 20 in the first quarter, the two-seed Hotshots were shell-shocked as the prospects of wasting their twice-to-beat advantage slowly loomed over their heads. "In the first quarter, we didn't show any defense. We were too excited to beat them and that's how we fell behind," he said in Filipino. "Coach [Chito Victolero] told us to relax and remind ourselves who we are, how our defense was, and play our game. That's what we did: bank on our defense." With the Hotshots playing again like the jugge...Keep on reading: Pingris, Magnolia thriving in PBA’s physical play.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsMar 6th, 2018

Warriors show off firepower, Cavs show off flaws in Finals rematch

By Steve Aschburner, NBA.com CLEVELAND -- Tyronn Lue’s bathroom break came early in the fourth quarter. No, not literally. But the coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers had used the familiar call of duty to describe the suddenness with which a game against the Golden State Warriors can turn. And sure enough, on Monday night at Quicken Loans Arena, it turned on Lue and his team. “They’re the only team,” Lue told reporters before tipoff, “where you can be looking at the game and it’s a two-point game. You go to the bathroom, come back, they’re up 15.” Lue’s “loo” moment, figuratively anyway, came after David West sank two free throws to put the Warriors up 95-93 with 9:07 to play. There it was – the two-point lead – in what had been 39 minutes of mostly entertaining, back-and-forth, you-loved-them-then-you’ll-love-them-again basketball between the familiar adversaries. Draymond Green extends the @warriors lead to 10 on @NBAonTNT! 4:47 to play in Q4 #DubNation pic.twitter.com/q2Drea9Jxy — NBA (@NBA) January 16, 2018 Exactly three minutes and 23 seconds later, Draymond Green cut to the basket, took a pass from Shaun Livingston and dropped in a layup that made it 105-95. It was the biggest lead of the night to that point. Lue twice had called timeouts during the run in an attempt to stop the bleeding. Now there was only 5:44 left. The Warriors’ margin would grow to 14. And the Cavaliers, to stick with Lue’s imagery, were circling the bowl. That the defending champions can go into hyperdrive against anybody is a reminder, not a revelation. But there were some things revealed, discovered and learned in the second and final regular-season clash of the respective West and East favorites, including: Isaiah Thomas has a way to go. This was our most extended look yet at Cleveland’s new point guard, their Kyrie Irving replacement, in circumstances most like those he’ll face when the meat of the Cavs’ schedule – the postseason – rolls around. Thomas scored 19 points, matching his high from the four previous games he played. He was on the floor for 32 minutes, nearly eight minutes more than his previous high. Both Thomas, who missed the season’s first 11 weeks recovering from a hip injury left over from last spring in Boston, and the Cavaliers know a) he’s not sharp or in great shape yet, and b) neither he nor the team has gotten familiar enough with the other to achieve the best results. Yet Thomas took 21 shots Monday (Tuesday, PHL time), more than LeBron James (18), more than Dwyane Wade (14) and more than double any other Cleveland player. He made just eight, including just one of his seven 3-point attempts. Lue, though, said he had no problem with Thomas’ gunning, as long as they were good shots. Thomas sounded as if he was seeking out work where he could find it. Granted, it was his hip that kept him out but his elbow, wrist and shooting hand apparently profit from heavy usage now too. “I’ve got to get in shape,” he said later. “I’ve got to get my legs back. Especially when I get a little winded, my legs get even heavier. “The only thing that’s gonna help me is getting reps. Running up and down the floor. Getting my hip, getting my body accustomed to taking a beating. ... Getting in basketball shape.” Kevin Durant didn’t put much stock in Thomas’ play Monday (Tuesday, PHL time) as a sign of how he’ll help Cleveland come springtime. Durant went through a similar enough trial in 2014-15, when surgery in October to repair a Jones fracture in his right foot sidelined him into December, then finally scuttled his season after just 27 games. “Obviously IT is just getting back,” the Warriors forward said. “He hadn’t played in seven months – you’ve got to give him some time. I know exactly how that feels. Especially being thrown in in the middle of the season and starting and playing 30-plus minutes now ... I know it’s gonna take him a while to get into a comfortable groove here.” What we saw is what we’d get. Mostly. It looked at various points as if both coaches were trying lineups, testing young players, tinkering with substitution patterns or probing matchups with an eye on a possible re-re-rematch in June. Likewise, it would be understandable for Lue and Golden State’s Steve Kerr to hold back a few wrinkles, just to have something fresh to try the next time they face each other. ”We don’t hold too much back, to be honest with you,” Kerr said. “I think matchups can dictate some things that you do in the playoffs and sometimes you may make a few different play calls, whatever. But I don’t think there’s a conscious effort to hold anything back for fear of tipping the hand for later.” Kerr started rookie big Jordan Bell again, same as in the Christmas game in Oakland, for more mobility against Cleveland’s small lineup than center Zaza Pachulia would provide. The coach gave Kevon Looney, Nick Young and Patrick McCaw more tastes of the rivalry too. Lue, meanwhile, was asked if he had the Cavaliers target Steph Curry defensively to get him into foul trouble and generally make life difficult. That’s a tactic that has helped when most others have failed against the two-time MVP and it might come in handy down the road. “I can’t remember,” Lue said, pointedly declining to answer. Curry can dunk. And David West still can. It was a rare Curry-in-flight moment early in the second half when the Golden State guard, who usually does his damage from deep, threw down a two-handed dunk. It was his first of the season. Steph Curry throws down the two-handed jam on #PhantomCam! #DubNation pic.twitter.com/eHaHsw2yZV — NBA (@NBA) January 16, 2018 “I think he was taking out some anger from the first half,” Kerr said. “Sometimes that will get him going. Steph loves to dunk more than anybody, you know that. Doesn’t happen often, so when it does, it jacks him up.” Said Durant, who fed Curry for the slam: “He surprised me on that one. Hopefully he’s feeling better tomorrow. I know it took a lot for him to get up there.” David West turns back the clock!#DubNation leads #AllForOne 103-95 with 6:16 to play in the 4th. 📺: @NBAonTNT pic.twitter.com/dj2iFuZGrr — NBA (@NBA) January 16, 2018 West got his 37-year-old bones up there too, dunking off the dribble during his nine-minute, plus-nine stint in the fourth quarter. The veteran power forward had missed his three shots in the second.   “He was a little short on his jump shot to start the game,” Durant said. “But D. West is such a smart player, he makes adjustments, he doesn’t get discouraged. He made a huge play – his left-handed dunk kind of got us all going. That was definitely surprising when he turned that one over.” But seriously, Cleveland has issues. Besides losing for the eighth time in 10 games, the Cavaliers had their 13-game home winning streak broken in Monday's (Tuesday, PHL time) 118-108 loss. And when it was second unit vs. second unit to start the fourth quarter, the Warriors had little trouble switching on defense and crowding away the Cavs’ long-range game. Cleveland shot just 6-of-23 in the fourth quarter, and got outscored 61-44 in what Kerr considered one of his club’s most complete second halves.   The Cavaliers’ defensive leaks have been extensively criticized, and more IT as he gets his game back is not the best way to address those. Even more problematic is the offense now, which over the past few weeks has been grinding, with none of them having much fun with the ball or without. “This is an important time for us,” Wade said, “and we want to see how we respond coming out of this game. ... It’s not about just winning a ball game. It’s about building good habits as a team.” Given James’ record and reputation – seven consecutive trips to the Finals, most in spite of some in-season doldrums for his Heat or Cavs crews – there’s a lot of “In LeBron We Trust,” both inside and outside the Cleveland locker room. Until a rival in the Eastern Conference proves it can knock off the King, no one will believe it. But if the Cavaliers, after so many exposures to their Bay Area nemeses (9-17 in regular- and postseason meetings since the start of 2014-15), can’t come up with solutions, maybe NBA fans should want to see someone else get a crack at them. 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 NewsJan 16th, 2018

Cignal closes elims campaign on a high note, faces Cocolife in the quarters

Cignal played with a crippled roster, but it hardly mattered as import Alexis Matthews asserted her dominance at the middle en route to a 25-21, 25-16, 25-14 victory over Victoria Sports-UST in the 2017 Philippine Superliga (PSL) Grand Prix Saturday at the Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan. Matthews was a solid force to be reckoned with as she single-handedly towed the HD Spikers to a morale-boosting victory. With the win, the HD Spikers formally closed their eliminations campaign at the fourth spot with a 4-4 win-loss card to book a quarterfinal duel with fifth-seed Cocolife on Thursday. F2 Logistics, meanwhile, is set to take the top spot provided that it prevails by at least four sets against newcomer Iriga City. If that happens, Petron will take the second seed while two-time champion Foton will fall to third. Matthews, the 6-foot-3 American middle blocker from Michigan State, did most of the damage at the middle as she knocked down 13 kills and six blocks for 19 points while winger Honey Royse Tubino chipped in eight markers for the HD Spikers, who missed the services of national team member Jovelyn Gonzaga and Rachel Anne Daquis. Gonzaga crashed with a knee injury last week while Daquis is still in the hospital after being diagnosed with dengue. Cignal coach George Pascua said while the victory boosts their confidence for the next round, local players such as Janine Marciano, Mylene Paat, Paneng Mercado and Tubino must all step up and deliver the numbers they will miss if and when Gonzaga and Daquis sit out anew. “I’m happy with our performance, but the locals must step up,” said Pascua, adding that over-confidence nearly doomed their chances in the first set where the Tigresses erected a 20-15 lead before Matthews buckled down to work. “Everybody is performing well and meets our expectations during training. But we should apply what we train and play a notch higher during actual games because things will start to get tough as we enter the quarterfinals.” From a 15-20 disadvantage, Matthews imposed her will at the middle, allowing Mercado to convert a strong kill and Saet to knock down back-to-back aces for a 22-21 lead. Shannen Palec tried to put the Tigresses back into the set with a successful attack, but Mylene Paat and Mathews delivered a pair of hits, giving the HD Spikers the set point, 24-22, and the confidence in the second and third sets. “She (Matthews) played really great,” said Pascua, noting that his other import Beth Carey of Australia was simply out of rythmn. “I just hope she maintains that form in the quarterfinals.” Carla Sandoval and Dimdim Pacres tallied 10 and nine markers, respectively, for the Tigresses, who kissed the tournament goodbye without a single victory in eight matches. They, however, still emerge as biggest winners as they will carry all the lessons they gained in this high-level tourney to the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) wars starting February......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 2nd, 2017