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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

Rookie Ladder: Mavericks Doncic starts on top

By Drew Packham, NBA.com Welcome back to another season of the Rookie Ladder. If you’re like me, there’s nothing you love more than watching the first-year players find their way in the NBA. This will be my 11th season covering the rookies (first for SI.com, now here) and it has yet to grow old. The beauty of covering rookies is that every season provides something that will surprise you. There are so many storylines, so many angles to keep an eye on. Players break out. Players flop. Players live up to expectations. Players fail to live up to expectations. Players have incredible performances. Players have awful performances. But yet, night in and night out, across virtually every arena, there’s something intriguing and exciting to watch. Each week, in this space, I’ll do my best to highlight the Top 5 rookies (and another five just missing the cut) and rank them on the Ladder according to their standing on the season. Last year, the Ladder was primarily a video released each week with my Top 5 rookies, but this season I’ll be able to write a little more and dig deeper into the ups and downs of the rookie class. So, with all that said, here’s the inaugural Rookie Ladder for the 2018-19 season. (All stats through Thursday, Nov. 1, PHL time) * * * 1. Luka Doncic, Dallas Mavericks Through the first week, Doncic has been the most consistently entertaining rookie and it’s difficult to pick one aspect of his game to feature. Do you like step-back 3-pointers? Check. Do you dig floaters in the lane? You’ll see several a game. How about court vision and slick passes? He’s got it. The thing with Doncic is he looks so comfortable being the Mavs’ leader, and the season is just two weeks old. He’s already the team’s leading scorer (19.6 ppg, first among rookies) and put up 31 points and eight rebounds in a tough 113-108 OT loss in San Antonio on Monday (Tuesday, PHL time). The only knock on Doncic so far are the turnovers (4.0 against 4.4 apg), but that should improve as he acclimates to his teammates and the style of play in the NBA. If you haven’t tuned in to a Mavs game, now’s the time. Doncic is must-see TV and earns the top rung to start the season. 2. Deandre Ayton, Phoenix Suns The No. 1 overall pick has lived up to the hype early in the season, averaging a double-double (16.9 ppg, 10 rpg) while giving Phoenix the dominating inside presence it has long desired. Devin Booker is dealing with a sore hamstring, but when the pair has been on the floor together, they’ve been a tough duo to defend. Drop down on the massive Ayton? He’ll kick it to Booker or his other shooters. Defend Booker on the perimeter? He’ll drop it in to get Ayton going inside. “He’s going to be a force down there the whole season,” Booker said. “I feel like teams are going to have to figure out what they want to do.” Ayton is shooting at a 61.6-percent clip (85.7 pct. on free throws) and he’s fourth among rookies in assists (3.3 apg), so it’s clear he’s comfortable passing out of the post. He’s going to be in the Kia Rookie of the Year chatter all season and while he may not be as exciting as Doncic and Young, his efficiency and dominance should give him a great shot at claiming the award. 3. Trae Young, Atlanta Hawks The No. 5 pick has been hit-or-miss in the early going, but his big games have been impressive. In the Hawks’ third game of the season, Young erupted for 35 points and 11 assists, while going 6-for-14 from 3-point land in a 131-117 loss to the Grizzlies. He’s only the third rookie since 2000 to top 35 and 10. The other two? LeBron James and Stephen Curry. But Young followed that outburst with a stretch of three games in which he was 11-for-37, going 2-for-15 from beyond the arc. This is likely what we’re going to see from Young throughout this season -- briliant performances followed by typical rookie struggles. Still, it’s clear Young can play. He leads all rookies in assists (6.6 per game) and he’s not turning the ball over at a terrible rate (3.0 per game). The Hawks are Young’s team, so he’ll have every opportunity to shine, which should keep him high on the Ladder all season. 4. Marvin Bagley III, Sacramento Kings At 5-3, the Kings are one of the early surprises of the season, and Bagley has been a big reason for their success. Working with the second unit, Bagley has been key as Sacramento has looked to push the tempo. While Bagley was more of a typical post-up player at Duke, he’s best when running the floor and finishing in transition. The Kings are winning, and Bagley is putting up decent numbers in just 23.3 minutes per game. Among rookies, he’s currently fourth in scoring (12.4 ppg) and second in rebounding (7.1 rpg), while shooting 53.4 percent overall and 5-for-9 from 3-point land. His most notable performance came Oct. 23 (Oct. 24, PHL time) in a 126-112 loss to the Nuggets in which he finished with 20 points, nine rebounds and five blocks in 32 minutes. Bagley could see his minutes increase as he improves, but he’s making the most of his minutes so far, which should keep him high on the Ladder. 5. Josh Okogie, Minnesota Timberwolves Okogie is one of the season’s early surprises as he’s made the most of his opportunity in Minnesota. After not seeing the floor in the Wolves’ first two games, Okogie got his chance when Jimmy Butler rested a game, then saw heavy action with Andrew Wiggins out with a quad contusion. In six games, the No. 20 pick out of Georgia Tech is averaging 9.8 points (8th among rookies) and 5.3 rebounds (sixth). More notably, he leads rookies in steals per game (1.7), which will certainly endear him to coach Tom Thibodeau. “You just like him,” Thibodeau said after Okogie scored 17 to help the Wolves beat the Lakers 124-120 on Monday (Tuesday, PHL time). “You just like his energy, and he makes things happen.” He’s struggling from the floor (38.3 percent), but his energy and defense could make him hard to bench once Wiggins returns. For now, though, he’s earned his rung on the Ladder. Just missed the cut: Jaren Jackson, Memphis Grizzlies Through six games, Jackson is averaging 11.5 points (6th among rookies), 5.2 rebounds (7th) and 1.0 blocks (4th) in 22.7 minutes. Scored in double-digits in the first four games, but has just 10 points in last two games while seeing playing time dip due to foul trouble. Mo Bamba, Orlando Magic Fifth in rebounding (5.4 rpg) and leads rookies in blocks at 2.0 per game (ninth among all players). Also managing to put up almost two 3s a night (at a 38.5 percent clip) while seeing around 20 minutes of action. Wendell Carter, Jr., Chicago Bulls Fourth in rebounding (6.3 rpg) in just over 25 minutes per game. Field goal percentage down for a big man (43.6 percent) but he’s scored in double-digits in last three games. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, LA Clippers Has been solid as Clippers’ backup. His ability to get to the rim and defend has earned him a spot in the rotation and even crunch-time minutes. Averaging 8.4 points and 3.6 assists (4th), while picking up a steal per game. Collin Sexton, Cleveland Cavaliers Has scored in double-digits in his last four games, averaging 14.3 points in that span. His ability to get to the line (nine times in each of last two games) may be his best feature. His career-best 17 points helped Cleveland get its first win Tuesday night (Wednesday, PHL time), and it will be interesting to see how his role changes under interim coach Larry Drew. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 2nd, 2018

Lakers Walton sounds off on officiating after loss

NBA.com staff report Los Angeles Lakers coach Luke Walton was obviously unhappy after his team's 143-142 overtime loss to the San Antonio Spurs on Monday (Tuesday, PHL time). Part of the frustration came in seeing his team fight back to force overtime and build -- and then lose -- a 142-136 lead in the extra frame. Another part of his frustration came from his view of the officiating in last night's game, and, it seems, the season at large. Before the start of this season, the Points of Education disseminated to all teams promised to focus on three key areas: freedom of movement on the perimeter and in the post, respect for the game and traveling. The Lakers and Walton were frustrated during and after night's game over what they thought were a lack of calls in some of those regards. Once the game was over, Walton opened his news conference with a lengthy comment about the officiating. In last night's loss, the Spurs attempted 38 free throws (making 28) to the Lakers 26 free-throw attempts (and 18 makes). 🎥 Luke Walton talks about the team's fight to come back and force overtime, and the impact of Johnathan Williams in his NBA debut pic.twitter.com/sWBR3fbbe6 — Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) October 23, 2018 "Let me start here. ... I wasn't going to say anything. I was going to save my money, but I just can't anymore," Walton said. "It's [74] points in the paint [by the Lakers] to 50, [and yet] again they outshoot us from the free-throw line -- 38 free throws. Watch the play where I got a technical foul. Watch what happened to LeBron James' arm. It's the same thing that James Harden and Chris Paul [drew fouls on and] shot 30 free throws on us the night before. ... We are scoring 70 points a night. In the paint. "Watch how Josh Hart plays this game. He played 40 minutes tonight. All he does is attack the rim. Zero free throws tonight. Zero. So to me, it doesn't matter. I know they're young, I get that. But if we are going to play a certain way, let's not reward people for flopping 30 feet from the hole on plays that have nothing to do with that possession. They're just flopping just to see if they get a foul call. And then not reward players that are physically going to the basket and getting hit. It's not right." The Lakers are the No. 2 team in the league scoring in the paint, averaging 71.3 ppg (trailing only the New Orleans Pelicans' mark of 76 ppg). After last night's loss, the Lakers rank 20th in free throw attempts (71) and 21st in free throws made (53). Additionally, the Lakers are 24th in total drives this season (110) and 23rd in free throw attempts (six) and free throws made (six) off drives. In 2017-18, the Lakers finished eighth in total free throw attempts and 16th in free throws made while ranking in the top 20 in total drives, free throw attempts and free throws made off drives. Lakers star LeBron James sparked the L.A. comeback and early OT lead with 32 points, 14 assists and eight rebounds. He said he knows there is an adjustment period ahead for the Lakers -- both in learning the new points of education and in getting in L.A. its first win of 2018-19. 🎥 LeBron James details the back-and-forth game against the Spurs. pic.twitter.com/YC1Pft1tsu — Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) October 23, 2018 "It's just hard with the new rule changes. You literally can't touch anybody -- well, you can, you can touch somebody defensively," James said. "You just can't. There's nothing [you can do]. We don't know. We're trying to figure it out. But every time we're on the defensive end, especially in the third quarter, we just kept putting them to the free throw line. But we got to try to figure that out because it's just giving teams too many easy opportunities to just go up there and knock down free throws." As for the Lakers' winless start to the season, James is taking a long view with his first season in Los Angeles. “I know what I got myself into,” James said. “It’s a process. I get it. We’ll be fine. I didn’t come here thinking we were going to be blazing storms right out the gate. It’s a process and I understand that. It’s frustrating not to get the win, but I’ve showered and I’m good now. "We're going to continue to get better. We're going to continue to get better. I like the direction we're going in. Obviously, it's not resulting in the wins right now but it's such a long process.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 23rd, 2018

Guiao on Pringle: ‘Stanley gives us another dimension’

National team coach Yeng Guiao said choosing Stanley Pringle over Christian Standhardinger as the Philippines' naturalized player was a hard decision to make. But that's not a knock on the explosive Pringle, who also brings a ton of upside to Gilas Pilipinas. "Stanley Pringle is taking over the naturalized position over Christian Standhardinger. That was very a difficult decision, agonizing decision with the way Christian was playing not only against Iran but consistently playing for the national team even from the asian games," Guiao told reporters after Philippine team practice at Smart Araneta Coliseum Sunday on the eve of its game against Qatar in the Fiba World Cup Asian Qualifi...Keep on reading: Guiao on Pringle: ‘Stanley gives us another dimension’.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsSep 16th, 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 NewsAug 18th, 2018

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

PBA: We had to weather the storm -- Lassiter

No lead is safe when you’re against Barangay Ginebra. The Gin Kings almost made San Miguel Beer pay Sunday at the Big Dome. Good thing, Marcio Lassiter was ready to play the firefighter's role in the Beermen's 99-91 escape over Ginebra to barge in the 2019 PBA Philippine Cup win column. SMB squandered a 23-point lead late in the third quarter and watched as the Gin Kings cut their deficit to 89-94 with 1:29 left in the game after LA Tenorio’s trey in Ginebra’s 17-5 scoring spurt. Then Lassiter came to the rescue for the Beermen. The SMB guard nailed a corner three to stop the Gin Kings at their track with 1:15 left. “I’m just lucky that on that play we just kept sharing the ball. So the ball found me on the corner and I was able to knock down,” said Lassiter. “That’s what we want, to keep sharing the ball and regardless of how, you know, we might miss some few shots but we kept sharing it good things happen.” Lassiter finished with 16 points with 4-of-6 shooting from beyond the arc. SMB went up 76-53 with 1:40 remaining in the third period off a three by Von Pessumal. The Beermen entered the payoff period with a comfortable 78-57 advantage. Or so they thought. “I felt like, we had a big lead originally, and we just need to keep our composure. Basketball is a game of runs so they made their run in the end. I give credit to them,” said Lassiter. “Ginebra’s a good team. You can’t discredit them. I give credit to them but we had to weather the storm and put some key stops and some key buckets in to get the win,” he added. The Beermen captured their first win in two games and pulled the Gin Kings down to 1-1.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 20th, 2019

Steelers edge Bengals 16-13 but miss out on AFC North title

By Will Graves, Associated Press PITTSBURGH (AP) — The win they needed but at times didn't act like they particularly wanted finally secured, the Pittsburgh Steelers lingered on the Heinz Field turf after a sluggish 16-13 victory over Cincinnati on Sunday and turned their eyes to the massive videoboard in the south end zone. A season filled with promise six weeks ago before things came undone boiled down to something entirely out of Pittsburgh's control: whether Cleveland could pull off a stunning rally in Baltimore. As a decidedly out-of-place chant of "Let's Go Browns" reverberated and Cleveland marched into Ravens' territory, a third straight AFC North for the Steelers seemed possible. Then Cleveland rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield threw a late pick. The Ravens held on. Optimism evaporated. Replaced by a mix of harsh reality and a hint of wistfulness. The Steelers (9-6-1) firmly believe they would be a tough out in the playoffs. Barring the slim hope of a tie between Indianapolis and Tennessee on Sunday night, Pittsburgh won't get the chance. The team that appeared assured of a fifth consecutive playoff berth following a six-game midseason winning streak instead will miss the postseason for the first time since 2013. "It just sucks," Steelers guard David DeCastro said. "How hard we work, how much effort we put in. To go from 7-2-1 to where we are now is heartbreaking." And avoidable. Yet four losses in five games — all of which the Steelers led at some point in the second half — forced them to enter Week 17 needing to beat the injury ravaged Bengals and a hope surging Cleveland could upset the Ravens on the road. "It's just tough," said Pittsburgh running back James Conner, who ran for 64 yards in his return to the lineup after missing three games with a sprained left ankle. "We're relying on somebody else to advance." The team that stressed it wouldn't spend all afternoon scoreboard watching certainly looked distracted as Cincinnati took a 10-3 halftime lead. Pittsburgh eventually rallied behind quarterback Ben Roethlisberger — who threw for 287 yards and a touchdown despite missing injured star receiver Antonio Brown to finish with a career-best and NFL-high 5,129 yards passing — and new kicker Matt McCrane booted three field goals, the last a 35-yarder with 1:56 to go that put the Steelers ahead to stay. Pittsburgh held on when Cincinnati backup quarterback Jeff Driskel's fourth-down pass intended for Josh Malone fell incomplete with 1:08 to go. Roethlisberger then took a pair of knees to run out the clock, setting the stage for the bizarre sight of the Steelers and thousands of black-and-gold clad fans cheering on the Browns. For a few anxious minutes, the dominoes appeared to be falling into place. When they didn't, Pittsburgh didn't place blame on Cleveland but countless missed opportunities. "It just makes me mad that as a leader of this group, we put ourselves in this situation like this, looking for others to do our job," Steelers defensive end Cam Heyward said. "Cleveland played a heck of a game ... it's frustrating and as a leader of this group it's just unacceptable." Roethlisberger vowed to return for a 16th season. He turns 37 in March and doesn't think Pittsburgh's window is closing as long as the offensive line in front of him remains intact. "I still feel good," he said. "We keep that line together, that'll give us a good fighting chance." MARVIN'S MURKY FUTURE Joe Mixon rushed for 105 yards for the Bengals but Cincinnati (6-10) — which entered Sunday with 18 players on injured reserve, including quarterback Andy Dalton and wide receiver A.J. Green— lost for the seventh time in eight games and head into another offseason unsure about the future of longtime head coach Marvin Lewis. Cincinnati's season turned at home against the Steelers back in October, when the Bengals let Pittsburgh go down the field in the final minute to pull out a 28-21 victory on Antonio Brown's 31-yard catch and run with 10 seconds to play. An avalanche of injuries and losses followed. Lewis headed to the locker room surrounded by cameras, which he found "ridiculous" after his beat-up squad took the Steelers basically to the wire. "I think it's sad (my status) is the only thing they can point to," Lewis said. "This isn't about me. This is about this football team and what they do. To make this about one person. It's not about one person. This is my job. That's it." INJURIES Bengals: WR Cody Core left late in the first quarter with a left elbow injury. Core was hurt while diving for a pass deep down the left sideline. ... LT Cordy Glenn injured his left ankle after getting rolled up on during a scrum following fumble by Driskel in the third quarter. Safety Brandon Wilson left in the second half with a chest injury and tight end Matt Lengel exited with a left knee issue. Steelers: Brown missed his first game of the season while dealing with a knee injury. Pittsburgh also sat starting safety Sean Davis (quadriceps) and inside linebacker Vince Williams (toe). UP NEXT Bengals: Owner Mike Brown will meet with Lewis to decide whether a 17th season is in the offing for the winning coach in franchise history. Steelers: While head coach Mike Tomlin is on firm ground, changes to the coaching staff could be made. Defensive coordinator Keith Butler's unit struggled to create turnovers and the special teams were a mess under coordinator Danny Smith......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 31st, 2018

ABL: ABL: Alab s new recruit Brandon Rosser plays like Jay Washington, says Alapag

Brand new Alab recruit Brandon Rosser announced his arrival in the ASEAN Basketball League with a one-handed buzzer-beating dunk Sunday at the Sta. Rosa Multipurpose Sports Complex. The 24-year-old athlete emphatically cleaned up a Renaldo Balkman shot that was supposed to clank off just seconds before the opening frame ended versus CLS Knights Indonesia. Brandon Rosser ends the quarter with a BANG 😳 #ABL9 pic.twitter.com/d9pw5AAxy7 — ABS-CBN Sports (@abscbnsports) December 9, 2018 "I think that was the first tip dunk I've ever had in a game and I think my first buzzer beater as well so getting it both for the first time is pretty cool," he said while narrating his first ABL conversion after Alab's victory, 94-67, over the Knights. The Fil-Am Rosser, who is the younger brother of San Miguel's Matt Ganuelas-Rosser in the PBA, is one of the several new faces of the young Alab Pilipinas roster. With a brother who already knows the ropes around Filipino basketball, he shared the wisdom that was given to him leading up to his Alab debut. "He said that the Filipino fans really appreciate hardworkers so I just come in and be myself and play for the fans and play for the country," said the younger Rosser whose brothers were present in the game. And hard work was exactly what he did in his first game where he finished with six points, two rebounds, two assists. He held his own while defending against massive opponents from the CLS Knights. Alab Head coach Jimmy Alapag gave high praise for the 6-foot-7 forward, as he likened Rosser to former San Miguel Beermen player and current Rain or Shine Elasto Painter, Jay Washington. "Brandon just gives us so much more versatility. He’s a guy who’s 6-foot-7 but he can shoot it, he can put it on the floor. He reminds me a lot of a young Jay Washington. Somebody who gets to the rim, somebody who can knock down perimeter shots. He’s a tough kid," said the sophomore Alab mentor. When asked to comment on the comparison to a PBA champion, Rosser expressed his excitement to reinforce it. "I've heard that comparison before. My brother actually played with Jay Wash too, so I've seen his game. Coach Jimmy, he's always looking out, anything he says, I listen. If he can say that, I'll just keep on building on that and I'll be game," Rosser said. Rosser started his collegiate career in Central Arizona College and finished at the University of California, Riverside. Playing in the ABL for Alab is his first professional basketball stint. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @the9cruz.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 10th, 2018

Barea, Mavs pull away in 4th for 113-104 win over Celtics

By SCHUYLER DIXON,  AP Sports Writer DALLAS (AP) — J.J. Barea held the shooter's pose for several seconds before big center DeAndre Jordan picked him up and carried him to the bench , the diminutive Dallas guard high-fiving everybody along the way. It just felt like a big 3-pointer in the Mavericks' sixth straight home victory. Barea scored 20 points and tag-teamed with Wesley Matthews on back-to-back 3s to take control in the fourth quarter of a 113-104 victory over the Boston Celtics on Saturday night (Sunday, PHL time). "I was mad that I missed the one before that one, went in and out on me," Barea said. "First time I think I've been lifted up from the other side of the court all the way to the bench. We're having fun." Harrison Barnes also had 20 points, teenage rookie Luka Doncic totaled 15 points and matched Barea with eight assists, while starting at point guard with Dennis Smith Jr. sidelined by a wrist injury, as the Mavericks (9-9) got back to .500 with their seventh win in nine games. It's the latest Dallas has been .500 or better since the end of the 2015-16 season, and it's the first six-game home winning streak for the Mavericks in almost two years. Jayson Tatum scored 21 points and Kyrie Irving and Marcus Smart had 19 apiece for the Celtics, who followed a win with a loss in a back-to-back for the third straight time this season a night after winning in Atlanta. Boston was without Gordon Hayward, who sat with soreness in his surgically repaired left ankle, in part because of playing on consecutive nights. Just like a Dallas team coming off consecutive woeful seasons, the Celtics (10-10) are at .500 coming off two straight trips to the Eastern Conference finals. "We don't impose our fear and will on teams," said Smart, who had to be held back from fans by Irving in the final seconds against his hometown team. "Last year, teams when they came in and played the Celtics, they knew they were in for a fight. This year, teams can't wait to play us and that's a problem." The Mavericks led by five starting the fourth quarter but pushed the lead to 106-90 on those consecutive 3-pointers from Barea and Matthews, who had 15 points after missing three straight games and four of the past five with a left hamstring strain. Doncic looked like a natural at the point from the start with five assists in the first quarter while making all three of his 3-point attempts for nine points. In one sequence, he sent Marcus Morris lunging toward the basket with a fake away from the ball, then watched Irving fly past him by faking the shot before making a 3. Irving got rolling in the second quarter, scoring nine points on 4-of-5 shooting while helping cut an 11-point deficit to three at halftime (59-56). DECKING DONCIC Doncic was doing enough for the Celtics to feel the need to try to knock him off his game in the third quarter. Jaylen Brown put a forearm in Doncic's chest when he was looking another direction while running up the floor and sent the 19-year-old sprawling. Brown's move came after Doncic intercepted a pass in transition near midcourt, drove to the baseline and slipped a pass to Jordan for a dunk. Jordan was given his second technical for hanging on the rim, but officials ruled it a non-unsportsmanlike technical, allowing Jordan to avoid an ejection as he finished with 14 points and 13 rebounds. Brown received an offsetting technical on a video review for the blindside hit on Doncic. CHIPPY LATE, TOO Doncic had to be separated from Brown after getting knocked to the floor, and there was another dustup when Smart shoved Maxi Kleber not long after they were part of a jump ball in the final seconds, long after the outcome had been decided. Smart was assessed a technical. TIP-INS Celtics: Al Horford returned after missing his first game of the season to rest a sore left knee. He had eight points and eight rebounds. ... Brown scored 16 points, and Morris added 13. ... Irving was 9 of 24 from the field with six assists and five turnovers. Mavericks: F/C Dwight Powell missed his third straight game with a left knee injury. ... Coach Rick Carlisle said Smith sprained his right wrist in a loss to Memphis two games earlier. He played but was limited in a win over Brooklyn. UP NEXT Celtics: At New Orleans on Monday. Mavericks: At Houston on Wednesday......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 25th, 2018

Browns GM: Team hasn t discussed Condoleezza Rice as coach

By Tom Withers, Associated Press CLEVELAND (AP) — The Browns' coaching search isn't quite ready to cross gender or diplomatic lines. General manager John Dorsey, who opened the possibility of hiring a woman to be Cleveland's next coach, said Sunday that the team has not discussed former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice as a candidate to become the club's ninth coach since 1999. ESPN, citing an anonymous league source, reported that the team would like to interview Rice, an ardent Browns fan since childhood, for its coaching job. However, Dorsey said she is not on the team's current list of candidates. "Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is a great leader, possesses the highest possible character and also happens to be a Browns fan," Dorsey said. "I have the utmost respect and admiration for all she's accomplished and was honored to meet her for the first time earlier this season. Our coaching search will be thorough and deliberate, but we are still in the process of composing the list of candidates and Secretary Rice has not been discussed." Earlier this week, Dorsey said he would consider a wide-range of candidates. "I just want the best possible head coach to move this thing forward regardless of age," he said. "It could be a woman, too. I am serious. Who knows?" The 64-year-old Rice would be an historic and outside-the-box candidate for the Browns, who fired Hue Jackson last month after he won just three games in two-plus seasons and went 0-16 in 2017. There has never been a woman interviewed for a head coaching job in the NFL. On her Facebook page, Rice professed her deep love for the Browns and said confidently, "I know they will hire an experienced coach to take us to the next level." "On a more serious note, I do hope that the NFL will start to bring women into the coaching profession as position coaches and eventually coordinators and head coaches," she wrote. "One doesn't have to play the game to understand it and motivate players. But experience counts — and it is time to develop a pool of experienced women coaches. "BTW — I'm not ready to coach but I would like to call a play or two next season if the Browns need ideas! And at no time will I call for a "prevent defense." Rice's last reference is common among die-hard Browns fans, who still bemoan then-coach Marty Schottenheimer's decision to play soft coverage in the 1986 AFC championship game when Denver quarterback John Elway drove the Broncos 98 yards to a game-tying touchdown in the final seconds. "The Drive" as it's known helped the Broncos beat the Browns 23-20 in overtime, denying Cleveland a trip to the Super Bowl. Rice discussed her love for the team during a visit to the Browns' headquarters in 2010. Her passion for the Browns dates to her early years in Alabama, where she and her father watched games together and cheered for Hall of Fame running back Jim Brown on teams coached by Paul Brown. Rice has become increasingly involved in sports, serving on the College Football Playoff selection committee and chairing a commission on college basketball. She served as secretary of state under President George W. Bush from 2005-09. Dorsey said interim coach Gregg Williams will be interviewed for the full-time position following the season. The Browns have a bye this week and will face Cincinnati next Sunday, when they'll have a reunion sorts with Jackson, who was hired by the Bengals as a special assistant to coach Marvin Lewis......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 19th, 2018

Meralco hero Baser Amer gets inspiration from Jimmy Alapag’s text messages

Meralco is having one of the best runs of any team in the PBA Governors' Cup. After starting the season flatly at 1-6, the Bolts won four straight do-or-die matches in the preliminaries and scored two more wins in the quarterfinals against second seed Phoenix. Just one loss in the playoffs would have sent Meralco packing but the two-time runner-up pushed through with a convincing 90-74 win in the opener and a 108-103 overtime squeaker to knock the Fuel Masters out and head to the semifinals. And one man who showed true grit in the Bolts' sixth straight win was point guard Baser Amer. Playing inspired basketball, Amer put in 26 points, five rebounds, and four assists inclu...Keep on reading: Meralco hero Baser Amer gets inspiration from Jimmy Alapag’s text messages.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsNov 10th, 2018

Developing young QBs in NFL a tricky balancing act

By Dennis Waszak Jr., Associated Press NEW YORK (AP) — Start them right away? Ease 'em in? Have them sit a whole season? When it comes to developing young quarterbacks in the NFL, it all depends on who you talk to. Some teams think it's best to throw rookie QBs into the fire to learn on the job. Others prefer to gradually work them into the offense. Some say it's more beneficial to have them grab a cap and clipboard and take it all in from the sideline. "I think every position is the same," Jets offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates said. "If someone can't handle it mentally, then you don't want to put them on the field, because naturally they'll play slower and be thinking instead of reacting." Sam Darnold clearly passed that test for New York, and the No. 3 overall pick in April was under center to start the season. "If a player shows the athletic ability, the talent and has the mental capacity to handle a gameplan and go into a game and be successful," Bates said, "then he's ready to play." That doesn't mean things have necessarily gone smoothly for the former USC star. Darnold's 14 interceptions lead the league and have contributed to the Jets' 3-6 start. So have his 55.0 percent completion rate and 68.3 quarterback rating, which also rank among the worst in the league. Still, some point to these early struggles as crucial building blocks for the future. "I'm going to continue to learn," Darnold said Sunday after a 13-6 loss at Miami in which he threw four INTs. "There's always lessons to be learned." Of the 32 quarterbacks currently listed as starters for their teams, 12 were under center in Week 1 of their first season. On the flipside, some veteran superstar QBs waited a while before they got their chances. Aaron Rodgers was stuck behind Brett Favre in Green Bay before finally starting in his fourth season. Philip Rivers didn't start with the Chargers until his third year, when Drew Brees went to New Orleans. Even Brees didn't get his first NFL start until his second season. Tom Brady, Eli Manning, Ben Roethlisberger and Alex Smith weren't Day 1 starters, either. "In an ideal world, it gets to be like Drew, who had a chance to watch a little, or Tom Brady and Aaron," said former quarterback Rich Gannon, the 2002 NFL MVP and now an analyst for CBS Sports and SiriusXM NFL Radio. Patrick Mahomes sat behind Smith in Kansas City until Week 17 as a rookie last year, and now is a leading MVP candidate as one of the NFL's top gunslinger s with a league-leading 29 TD passes for the 8-1 Chiefs. "We knew that Patrick was very talented, but any time that an NFL team goes with a young quarterback, usually it's a very challenging endeavor," Chiefs owner Clark Hunt said. "Sometimes it takes time, several years, but as we've seen, Andy (Reid) had Patrick ready to go Week 1." Gannon thinks the Chiefs provide the perfect blueprint. "Mahomes had a chance to watch a master of his domain for a year," he said. "Alex Smith knew that system inside and out, has great huddle command and leadership skills. Maybe he doesn't throw it like Mahomes does, but this is a guy who was willing to share and help him for that year, and we're seeing the fruits of it now. "That's the best situation you can have." Again, that depends on who you ask. In the past three drafts, 11 quarterbacks were taken in the first round — including Darnold, Cleveland's Baker Mayfield, Buffalo's Josh Allen, Arizona's Josh Rosen and Baltimore's Lamar Jackson this year. Jackson is the only one to not yet start at least one game. Baltimore has Joe Flacco leading the huddle, but Jackson has still been used in the offense and is the Ravens' second-leading rusher. The Browns wanted to have Mayfield, the No. 1 overall pick this year, sit and learn behind Tyrod Taylor. But like most plans in Cleveland, it backfired. Taylor got hurt in Week 3 and Mayfield was thrust into the lineup, helping the Browns rally to beat the Jets in a nationally televised game and end a 19-game winless streak. Mayfield has shown poise and promise, but lacks playmakers and is dealing with a coaching change after Hue Jackson was fired. In Buffalo, the Bills weren't anticipating Allen starting in the second week. They were taking what coach Sean McDermott called a "calculated" approach. But after AJ McCarron was traded before the season opener and Nathan Peterman bombed in Week 1, McDermott was left with no choice but to turn to Allen. The rookie has been dealing with a sprained right elbow , and is uncertain to play Sunday against the Jets. "When you draft a quarterback like we did, there's a part of it where you have to say, 'Hey, he's going to play either A, B, or C — early, middle, or late or next year.'" McDermott said. "You have to be OK with all of that." The initial plan in Arizona was to have Rosen learn behind Sam Bradford. All that changed when the veteran was ineffective and benched in favor of the No. 10 overall pick. Rosen took his lumps with some turnover-filled performances. Then, Mike McCoy was fired as the Cardinals' offensive coordinator and Bradford was later cut — leaving the job to Rosen. "His demeanor allows him to have success," new offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich said. "Quarterbacking in this league is hard and when things go bad, this kid tends to be fine." But, some say too many adverse situations could end up having long-term deleterious effects on a young player. "When you put them in before they're ready, they also get hurt: Josh Allen, Josh Rosen," Gannon said. "The speed of the game is way too fast for them. ... Or they have a bad experience, like what wound up happening with (the Jets') Mark Sanchez and Geno Smith, or going back to Ryan Leaf (with the Chargers). They play right away before they are physically or mentally ready or maturity-level ready. They get benched and booed and maybe run out of town, the coach gets fired, and then the next thing, they're on their third or fourth team. They think he will be a savior and he's not ready to play. "How is that being responsible from a coach and ownership standpoint? It's doing a tremendous disservice." Tampa Bay's Jameis Winston and Tennessee' Marcus Mariota started right away after being the top two picks in 2015, but the jury's still out on both. For those who preach patience, 25 of the 32 current QBs started a game at some point in their rookie season. And, several held on to the job from there. Quarterbacks such as the Rams' Jared Goff (No. 1 in 2016) and the Bears' Mitchell Trubisky (No. 2 in 2017) started and struggled as rookies, but benefited from changes in coaching staffs and philosophies and took leaps in their second seasons. So, who's right? Well, all of the above. "There's certainly valuable experience when you stand and watch," McDermott said. "But we all know there's no substitute for the experience when you're actually behind the wheel. There's a lot of value to that." ___ AP Pro Football Writer Barry Wilner and AP Sports Writers Bob Baum, David Ginsburg, Dave Skretta, John Wawrow and Tom Withers contributed......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 7th, 2018

Sizzling Celtics set franchise record, deal Bucks first loss

    MANILA, Philippines – Boston had a three-point party to knock down the last undefeated team in the NBA. The Celtics drained a franchise record 24 three-pointers to end  the Milwaukee Bucks’ perfect run, 117-113, at the TD Garden in Boston on Thursday night, November 1 (Friday, November 2, Manila ........»»

Category: newsSource:  rapplerRelated NewsNov 2nd, 2018

Browns fire coach Jackson, owner cites internal discord

By Tom Withers, Associated Press BEREA, Ohio (AP) — Browns owner Jimmy Haslam finally tried the patient approach with his head coach. That didn't work either. Haslam made his fourth coaching change since 2012 by firing Hue Jackson, who won just three of 40 games over two-plus seasons and then lost his job because of a feud with offensive coordinator Todd Haley that went public and threatened to turn a promising season into another one of those Cleveland catastrophes. Haslam fired Jackson and Haley within hours of each other on Monday, a day after the Browns (2-5-1) lost their 25th consecutive road game — one shy of the NFL record. "Hopefully, we made a big step today," Haslam said. "It is hard to win in the NFL. If anybody knows that, it is us. I think the message today is we are not going to put up with internal discord. We want people who are collaborative and work together." As for his poor track record in finding coaches, Haslam offered no excuses. "I will accept the blame because ultimately, it is the person at the head of the ship," he said. "I will take the blame as ownership. I can't explain it more than that. We have had different situations with different people. I know that it is something that we are not going to tolerate moving forward." Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams is Cleveland's interim coach, and running backs coach Freddie Kitchens will take over for Haley. Haslam said Williams, who coached Buffalo from 2001-03, was the only in-house candidate considered to finish the season. While Williams has extensive experience and won a Super Bowl, he also has a checkered past. He was suspended by the league for a full season in 2012 for his role in the "Bountygate" scandal that rocked the New Orleans Saints. Haslam said it's premature to consider the next coaching hire for the Browns, who are 22-81-1 since he and his wife, Dee, agreed to buy the franchise in 2012. The main objective now is to get through the season's second half, beginning with a matchup on Sunday against the high-scoring, Kansas City Chiefs (7-1). "We will have a collaborative effort in everything that we do here," Haslam said when asked about a search for the team's ninth coach since 1999. "Right now, we are focused on the next eight games and Gregg and his staff winning as many of those games that we can." There are already names floating around as potential candidates to be Cleveland's next coach, including Oklahoma's Lincoln Riley, who coached Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield in college. "Not right now," Riley said of his interest in jumping to the NFL. "You sit here and answer these questions and I always want to be truthful. The truth is for me is, I love Oklahoma. I love coaching here. I love college football. I certainly don't have that itch right now." Just three weeks ago, the Browns, who went 0-16 last season under Jackson, appeared to have turned the corner following an overtime win against Baltimore. But things unraveled quickly, thrust in the wrong direction by a power struggle between Jackson and Haley, who joined Cleveland's staff this season after six in Pittsburgh. Following a loss at Tampa Bay last week, Jackson aimed blame at Haley by offering to help the team's offense. Haley publicly said he wasn't offended by the remarks. But Jackson's comments seemed to widen a divide between the coaches, who had disagreed on players getting days off during training camp and whether wide receiver Josh Gordon deserved to start the opener. In order to salvage the season, Haslam and general manager John Dorsey felt change was necessary. Without pointing fingers, Dorsey said there's only one way to stop the in-fighting. "Treat people the way they want to be treated," he said. "Come into work every day willing to work. Love what you do. Just take ownership in what you are doing. Come to work every day and treat people the way you want to be treated." Jackson's the sixth straight Cleveland coach to be fired following the team's second game against Pittsburgh. Romeo Crennel, Eric Mangini, Pat Shurmur, Rob Chudzinski and Mike Pettine all met the same demise, but they were let go following the season's final game. Haslam wouldn't get into any specifics about the "'discord" between Jackson and Haley. "We made the decision to move on, and it was far bigger than who was going to call plays," Haslam said. "Unfortunately, sometimes, the best plans don't work out, and in this case, they didn't. We were optimistic and hopeful that they would." Jackson was hired in 2016 by the Haslams, who stuck by him despite a 1-15 record in his first season and then last season's debacle. His failures were always explained away with excuses: not enough talent, injuries, bad luck, a disconnection with the front office. Haslam thought hiring a high-profile coordinator like Haley would help Jackson. In the end, it was his undoing. "Unfortunately, sometimes the best plans do not work out," Haslam said. "In this case, they did not. We were optimistic and hopeful that they would, but they did not work out.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 30th, 2018

Kevin Durant: It s better to be the hunted

    LOS ANGELES, USA – The Golden State Warriors got a surprise scare from the New York Knicks. But Kevin Durant said being the defending NBA champions means every other team is trying to knock you off that lofty perch. "They challenged us tonight. It's better to be the hunted and ........»»

Category: newsSource:  rapplerRelated NewsOct 27th, 2018