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Matter of when Man City wins title and how many records fall

By Steve Douglas and Rob Harris, Associated Press English soccer has never seen a team so utterly dominant as Manchester City entering the packed Christmas program. There seems little doubt Pep Guardiola will be raising the Premier League trophy for the first time in May. It is just a question of when City will wrap up its third title since 2014, and how many records will tumble on the way. City has already reeled off the most consecutive English top-flight wins — a record extended at the weekend to 17 games. Manchester United's record Premier League title-winning margin of 18 points from 2000 could also be under threat. And England could be looking at its third unbeaten "Invincibles" team after Preston in 1888-89 and Arsenal in 2003-04. So it doesn't bode well for a compelling second half of the Premier League season? Think again. The chase for the other three Champions League spots should be fierce with eight points separating second-place Manchester United and Arsenal in sixth. Chelsea, Liverpool and Tottenham are in the mix among them. Two leading sides will fall by the wayside and be denied a place among the European elite. The battle to stay in the world's richest soccer league is also intense. No team is stranded at the bottom, with Swansea in 20th place only six points behind Southampton in 13th. A closer look at the first half of the season: ___ TITLE RACE City leads by 13 points at the halfway stage after winning 18 of its 19 games and drawing one in the best ever start to a Premier League season. The only dropped points came at home to Everton in the second game on Aug. 21, when City played more than a half with 10 men following Kyle Walker's sending-off. Guardiola won the Bundesliga with Bayern Munich in late March in 2014 — aided by a winning streak of 19 games never before seen in a major European league. It will be tough for Guardiola to win the title that early in England as he chases a quadruple after finishing his first season at the club without a trophy. City is already through to the League Cup semifinals, into the Champions League last 16 and begins its FA Cup campaign in two weeks. Man United is in second place, with defending champion Chelsea three points further back in third. United manager Jose Mourinho says the title race is still on, but the rest of his peers among the chasing pack don't see City faltering now. It will be intriguing how Mourinho reacts to be seeing his title ambitions further fade in his second season at United, having already opted to publicly call out his "childish" players after a draw at Leicester on Saturday. ___ PICK OF THE PLAYERS Kevin De Bruyne is playing in a deeper role for City this season, virtually as a center midfielder, and it is bringing the best of out the Belgium midfielder. He has provided many of this season's wow moments, from scoring the winning goal at former club Chelsea in September with a fierce left-footed strike from outside the area to the assists for goals by Leroy Sane and Raheem Sterling in the 7-2 win over Stoke in October Dovetailing perfectly with fellow playmaker David Silva, De Bruyne has six goals and eight assists but it's more than just his statistics. His prodigious work rate, range of passing and crossing ability — arguably the best in the Premier League since the days of David Beckham — that make him a strong contender for the player of the season awards. No wonder City is determined to nail down the 26-year-old De Bruyne to an improved, longer contract. ___ EMERGING TALENT Amid an offseason of record spending in English soccer, little was made of Watford signing Richarlison from Brazilian team Fluminense for 13 million pounds ($17 million). Yet the 20-year-old forward is proving a bargain, settling in quickly to the pace and intensity of the Premier League and being one of the key factors in Watford's impressive start to the season that, at one stage, saw them challenging around the top four. Direct, skilful and quick, Richarlison already has five goals and keeps getting himself in great positions to score more, with his finishing sometimes letting him down. Opponents have cottoned on to his impact, with Richarlison telling ESPN Brazil this month: "Teams are already marking me individually, they are putting two players there on my side." Chelsea and Tottenham have been linked with the Brazil under-20s player, who has yet to earn a call-up to the senior squad. That appears only a matter of time. Other players to break through this season are Chelsea's Andreas Christensen, the Danish center back who has ousted David Luiz, and Liverpool's Joe Gomez, the right back who has ensured long-term injury absentee Nathaniel Clyne hasn't been missed. ___ SURPRISE TEAM An unfashionable club is mixing it with the heavyweights of the Premier League against all the odds. We've heard this before, right? Two years ago, it was Leicester delivering a soccer fairy tale by somehow winning the league. Now it's Burnley's turn to provide the feel-good story of the season. Widely regarded as a relegation candidate at the start of the season, Burnley is currently seventh. Don't rule Burnley out of staying in the tussle for the Champions League qualification places, with Liverpool only three points better off in fourth. The northwest team hasn't finished a season higher than sixth place in the top flight since 1974. Burnley, which has conceded just 15 goals in 19 games, has already beaten Chelsea away and drawn at Tottenham and Liverpool. Not bad for a team that returned a profit of about $20 million in summer player sales when most of the rest of the Premier League was spending freely. ___ POINTS TO PROVE Alexis Sanchez is a superstar performing well below expectations this season, perhaps as a result of failing to secure a move to Man City from Arsenal during the summer. That transfer could be revived in January — Guardiola cut an awkward figure recently when asked about making a new bid for the Chile forward — to potentially leave City with an even greater wealth of attacking riches. Sanchez has five league goals. By this stage last season, he had already scored 12 on his way to career-high haul of 24 for a single league campaign. In the dugout, these are testing times for two British managers: Alan Pardew and Mark Hughes. Pardew succeeded Tony Pulis a month ago with a mission to keep West Bromwich Albion in the Premier League. Then the Baggies were two points above the bottom three. Now they are next-from-bottom after collecting only two points from Pardew's first five games. Hughes' future appears on a knife-edge at Stoke despite a pressure-relieving victory over West Brom on Saturday that hauled the team three points from the danger zone......»»

Category: sportsSource: abscbn abscbnDec 25th, 2017

Warriors keep evolving in rivalry with Cavs

By Steve Aschburner, NBA.com CLEVELAND -- You might expect, given the familiarity from what’s gone on for four years now, that the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers have worked up some serious mutual contempt. They both covet what the other wants -- in fact, the Warriors or the Cavs could make a persuasive case that, if not for the other guys, one already would have notched a three-peat and be chasing Bill Russell’s Celtics in pursuit of a fourth consecutive championship. They both have poured buckets of blood, sweat, tears, money, Gatorade and offseason counter moves into their nouveau NBA rivalry. And they both, well, as Golden State coach Steve Kerr phrased it to the San Jose Mercury News Sunday (Monday, PHL time), “We just want to kick each other’s ass.” And yet the Warriors and the Cavaliers -- who play again Monday (Tuesday, PHL time) at Quicken Loans Arena in the NBA’s prime-time MLK showdown -- have more in common with each other than they do with any of the league’s other 28 teams. Playing 100 games or so every year. Locking in mentally and surviving physically longer than anyone else. Showing up each night targeted as a measuring stick, even a season maker, by the opponents. While trying like heck to keep things fresh. Renew. Find and tap into a new source of energy, because old ones wane over time. “It’s the biggest challenge of this whole season,” Kerr told NBA.com late last week, with the Warriors starting a back-to-back in Milwaukee and Toronto on their way back to The Land. Even if it were possible -- and it realistically is not, given free agency, injuries, trades, the salary cap, luxury taxes, hirings and firings each NBA offseason -- playing a pat hand from one championship-level season to the next isn’t desirable. Voices, locker rooms, relationships get stale. Rivals adjust and escalate in the arms race. Some players ebb in the pecking order, others flow. It’s important to inject new faces, add skills and even find fresh themes to fend off monotony, even boredom, through the 82-game slogs. The Warriors, in winning 20 of 23 games over the past seven weeks, largely have managed to do that. The Cavaliers, at 26-15 after 2-7 stretch that started at Golden State on Christmas (Dec. 26, PHL time)? Not so much. Golden State shifts gears after each season It’s easy to think of Golden State’s success since Kerr’s hiring before the 2014-15 season as one uninterrupted run of excellence. Three-pointers, “death lineups,” and the rest. But the differences from one year to the next have been fairly pronounced. “In Year 1, we were trying to prove ourselves to the world,” Kerr said. “Then we win the championship -- it was all so fresh. There were no letdowns at all that year. It was the most exciting, it was the most energized, it was the most refreshing. It was brand new to all of us. It felt like we were riding this wave all year -- we were all giddy, like, ‘Oh my God, we’re really good!’ We didn’t know we could be like that. And for me, it was my first year coaching.” Steph Curry won his first MVP award. He and Klay Thompson generated considerable conversation about the best shooting backcourts in league history. Draymond Green forever changed the old NBA notion of “’tweeners.” The Warriors finished 67-15, ranked second in the league in offense (111.6) and first in defense (101.4) and beat Cleveland in the Finals in six games. “It was maybe like the first stages when you fall in love,” Kerr said. “You’re just on Cloud 9 and she can’t do anything wrong. There’s infatuation and then you truly fall in love, and it’s amazing. “The second year, we sort of rode that wave of euphoria of being the best team in the league and having won the title. The next thing you know, we’re 24-0 and we’ve got a chance to set an all-time record. That 73-win mark carried us all year. We were going to prove that, not only were we the champs but we were one of the best teams ever.” The Warriors were -- by regular season standards. Curry won his second MVP award. Kerr missed the first 43 games due to health issues but assistant coach Luke Walton steered them to a 39-4 mark. They bought into the chase for 73 victories fairly late, but instead of a 16-5 playoff run like the previous spring’s, the Warriors went 15-9 -- coming up one victory short when the Cavaliers became the first team to claw back from a 3-1 deficit. That led directly to Golden State’s next new wrinkle, a reconfiguration that came close to buckling the league’s knees. “We got KD,” Kerr said. “Now we’re changing our team, right? Last year was about incorporating KD, welcoming this incredible player into our organization and our roster. Figuring how to do it, how we were going to adjust. I felt like there were times last year that were tiring, where our guys were done a little bit. But it was ‘new’ again.” Even the challenges were fresh, like counting Curry’s or Klay Thompson’s touches relative to Durant’s or closing ranks around Golden State’s thin man as his reputation took blows for the first time in his NBA career. Not interested in shooting for 74 victories, the Warriors simply took care of business and stayed coiled for the postseason. Then it was a 16-1 dash to title No. 2, Durant snagging the Finals MVP trophy after the five-game dispatching of the Cavs. All of which just set the Warriors’ bar higher, requiring them to search for something new, somebody borrowed, presumably nothing blue. “This year it’s just survive and advance,” Kerr said. “It’s ‘let’s get to April, May, June in one piece.’ There’s a reason we’ve lost six home games already. We don’t have the driving force that we had the last few years. We’re dealing with what any team in NBA history that’s tried to do this has dealt with. The Lakers (1982-85), the Celtics (1984-87, 1957-66)... It’s just really hard and you need that driving force.” Said Warriors vet Andre Iguodala: “Your body is mindful of it, because it hurts.” A couple of young guys -- Patrick McCaw, Kevon Looney -- have taken on bigger roles. Nick Young brings some sort of buzz into any locker room that will have him. Still, as veteran guard Shaun Livingston said: “We’re not chasing any records. We’re not adding another All Star. We’re just trying to make it through the marathon.” Cavs' challenges mount during 2017-18 The Cavaliers are just trying to make it through the marathon, too. But if they could, they might do it like Rosie Ruiz, the 1980 women’s “winner” of the Boston Marathon who perpetrated a hoax by hopping the subway and running only the final mile of Beantown’s famous race. The 2017-18 has been anything but fun for Cleveland so far. It began with the departure of All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving, a not-so-funhouse mirror image of Durant’s arrival a year earlier in the Bay Area. Irving, for reasons still not quite explained, made it known in the offseason that he wanted out. He wanted to be the man on his own team. Or he didn’t want to be left in the lurch if (when?) LeBron James took his talents elsewhere again. Or both. Or neither. Regardless, once the Cavaliers made his request come true by dealing him to Boston for All-Star point guard Isaiah Thomas and Brooklyn’s coveted first-round pick this June, their task got tougher and their season longer. Losing one of the league’s best ball handlers and shot makers doesn’t qualify as “renewal” any more than what went on in Oklahoma City when Durant packed up. There’s been more. Shooting guard J.R. Smith seemingly got old overnight. Jae Crowder, who came from the Celtics in the Irving deal, hasn’t meshed with the Cavs’ style. Kevin Love has been moved to center but hasn’t done anything to satisfy the Cavs’ need for rim protection. Thomas only returned to action from a hip injury as the calendar turned to 2018 and has played only four games in these two weeks. Even with so many new faces -- seven of the top 12 in coach Tyronn Lue’s rotation weren’t here 12 months ago -- it’s a group heavy on veterans, players a little too established or mature to naturally instill raw energy. James said recently that none of this is new, it’s another case of the Cavs biding their time for the “second” season that means everything. But Lue also introduced the topic of “agendas,” suggesting that some of his guys were looking out for their own responsibilities and performances -- particularly on defense -- rather than the group’s. At best, this is another dose of the midseason blahs, the Cavs in their doldrums in need of an All-Star break. At worst, though, they might be honing some bad habits that won’t be so easy to break in May or June. Especially if East rivals such as Toronto, Boston or Washington are emboldened after witnessing or administering some of the Cavs’ more embarrassing beat downs this season. Will any of this matter come spring? It will if the switch each team is minding stubbornly decides not to flip. “That’s the key. You’ve got to find that balance,” Kerr said. “Are you flipping the switch or are you navigating? The idea is, don’t let bad habits slip in. Right now, this moment, we’re into some bad habits. Our defensive efforts  the last five, six games [before the weekend] were awful. We got away with it because Steph was going nuts.” The Cavaliers repeatedly have not gotten away with bad defensive habits, even on nights when James has been dominant. “It’s tough,” Livingston said. “They’re a team that’s built for the playoffs. But our core guys still are in there prime. Their core guys are still good. But we’re talking about ‘prime.’” Most still would pick both Golden State and Cleveland to advance all the way to a “Finals Four” (after last year’s “Rubber Match” series). But one of these years, most will be wrong -- about one or both. That alone might be motivation enough. Steve Aschburner has written about the NBA since 1980. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 15th, 2018

Popovich s odd alliance with red state fans

By Shaun Powell, NBA.com SAN ANTONIO -- About 400 people gathered at the Oak Hills Country Club in June 2016 and paid $500 to $250,000 to sip iced tea and nibble hors d’oeuvres next to a golf course designed by noted architect AW Tillinghast, who built many. One is owned by the man who was feted at this political fundraiser, Donald J. Trump. The presidential campaign was in full blast and saltier than the crackers on the cheese plate being passed around. Fresh off the plane, Trump thanked the Republicans for the big ‘ole Texas welcome, witnesses say, before launching a blistering attack on the usual targets: Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, illegal immigration. Then, near the end of his 30-minute lunchtime appearance, in an effort to connect with the locals, he pivoted and mentioned perhaps the most famous man in town: Gregg Popovich. Witnesses say Trump called Popovich “a great coach” and said “he does a good job” and then there was some fidgeting in the room when the soon-to-be polarizing leader of the free world said this: “I don’t know if the coach is on my side.” Confirmation came emphatically, right after Trump won a divisive election that November. The coach of the Spurs lit into the President over the next several months with a handful of rants that had the stealth of Kawhi Leonard ambushing a timid ball-handler. In no particular order, here were Pop’s Greatest Hits, all issued through the media and without prompting or provocation: “The disgusting tenure and tone and all the comments … have been xenophobic, homophobic, racist, misogynistic. I live in a country where half the people ignored that to elect someone.” And: “He is in charge of our country. That’s disgusting.” And: “The man in the Oval Office is a soulless coward who thinks he can only become large by belittling others.” And: “We have a pathological liar in the White House ... You can’t believe anything that comes out of his mouth.” Popovich didn’t stop there with a President whose sensitivity and intelligence he questioned and accused of being guilty of “gratuitous fear-mongering.” When he took Trump to task for criticizing NFL players who knelt during the National Anthem and defended their rights to do so, Popovich also suspected a measure of the public outrage was racially motivated. “Our country is an embarrassment to the world,” he said. A 68-year-old wealthy white man, therefore, became a sports voice with weight in the political and social justice arena, where the NBA league office has greenlighted players and coaches to speak up. Popovich has done so with clarity and insight to gain national applause in certain corners. He wasn’t the first or the last in sports to verbally spank the president or tackle right-leaning sensitivities, yet he’s certainly the most unique in one respect. As a graduate of the Air Force Academy who works in a military town, and a five-time NBA champion coach who might symbolize the city more than The Alamo, Popovich has long been elevated to icon status, perhaps permanently so, in San Antonio, where folks are mad about the Spurs. Still, this is mostly conservative Texas, one of the most Republican of states based on the state legislature and the congressional delegation, a state that voted Republican in 10 straight presidential elections and saw 52.6 percent of voters punch for Trump. While voters in San Antonio-proper lean liberal, the surrounding areas swing solidly the opposite. Julianna Holt, the Spurs CEO and Popovich’s boss since March after assuming the position held for 20 years by her husband Peter, supported various Republican presidential candidates before eventually donating $5,400 to Trump’s campaign and $250,000 to the Trump Victory Fund, according to Federal Election Commission records. Popovich is therefore a blue blood in a red state and the contrast makes for strange if not uncomfortable alliance between a beloved coach and a group of conflicted Spurs worshippers. His views have in fact shattered the sacrilege by generating hostility from a segment of the basketball flock, something no coach with his credentials would ever feel. The constant winning and acts of charity do not insulate him from those who would prefer Popovich stuff a sweat sock in his bullhorn. Party lines not Popovich's focus “While we all believe Gregg Popovich has the right to his opinions, where was Popovich when Hillary called half of us a 'basket of deplorables?’Many were Spurs fans who are now tired of being insulted ... many of us will never pay to see a Spurs game again.” -- Donna Howington  “The money I will save this year not attending Spurs games should buy me a nice set of golf clubs. Thanks Pop!” -- Jake Ingorgia  “I will never watch them again until Popovich is gone. He is just like all the other leftist celebrities.” -- Lee Harbach, Bulverde They arrive on cue, most from the dusty towns that orbit around San Antonio, some from the city itself. Popovich has unloaded three times this year on Trump, once after the election, once at the start of training camp and most recently by cold-calling Dave Zirin, a friend and liberal writer from The Nation, a progressive magazine. And each time, the letters land in the office of Ricardo Pimentel, the editor who coordinates the comments section of the Express-News, San Antonio’s newspaper of record. “It’s a cycle,” says Pimental, with a sigh. “He speaks out. People who disagree with him send us letters to the editor, then people who object to their disagreement write us letters to the editor defending Pop. Then they respond to one another.” The initial reaction, he said, is always stacked against Popovich and many identify themselves as Spurs fans ripping up their tickets or promising to never attend or watch games again. Even if those who made threats actually carried them out, the change in the Spurs’ home attendance is a blip, from 99.2 percent capacity last season to 98.6 so far this season. Popovich, of course, has been big for business since his first full season as coach in 1997-98. Besides the titles, the Spurs have reached the playoffs every season and won 50 games every season (except for the lockout-shortened 50-game 1998-99 campaign, when they won 37). In short, Popovich's Spurs have a track record beyond reproach in the NBA. If the 2017-18 Spurs stay on pace, it’ll be 20 straight winning seasons for Popovich, one more than Phil Jackson for the all-time NBA record. He hasn’t been this politically vocal until lately, due to Trump, yet was always politically aware, say those who know him. Well-versed through his readings and observations, Popovich welcomes discussion with acquaintences about classism, leadership, government and preferably over a bottle of wine. His two-decades exposure to young black men from humble beginnings raised his awareness and sensitivities about race and bias. Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr once played for the Spurs and lately has echoed many of the same thoughts as Popovich. But Kerr coaches in the Bay Area, where folks nod their heads in agreement. Kerr said he can only imagine the flak Popovich catches in Texas. “Here’s this iconic coach who stands for everything that’s right and for honor and integrity, he served in the military, you see him stand at attention for the American flag — man, Pop loves his country,” Kerr said. “And in the middle of Texas for him to be questioning the Republican President, some of the people down there are probably confused. Like, 'I don’t get it, we love this guy but he’s on the other side from us.' “What I love about Pop is that it’s not about party, not about politics. It’s about integrity and character and that’s what people need to pay attention to. It’s not about some policy, not about how much we pay in taxes. If we can just get back to the point where character matters, then we’ll be in better shape. The problem is, it’s clear character has gone down the tubes in many leadership positions in our country. That’s what Pop is calling out.” True enough, Popovich never publicly attached himself to a political party; to suggest he is against Republicans might be as misleading as believing Colin Kaepernick is against the military. When he played for Popovich, Kerr couldn’t recall a time when the coach was this annoyed by the country’s leadership. “The country was in a better place in terms of a relatively peaceful time back then,” Kerr said. “Yes, 9-11 happened and the whole world changed. But we didn’t have quite the same partisan nature, not only in politics but the national conversation. And so people could just admire Pop for who he was and people might not have been aware of his political leanings because they didn’t ask. When we won and went to the White House, Pop and the team went when Bush was in office. We went in ’99 when President Clinton was there. Republican, Democrat, didn’t matter. The times are so different now.” Kerr laughed quickly when asked about the semi-serious groundswell of social media support for a Kerr-Popovich ticket in 2020. Kerr said he hopes to be on his fifth NBA title as a coach then, but turned semi-serious about Popovich. “Our country needs somebody like Pop who can actually lead and unite from a position of authority and credibility,” Kerr said. “This guy served in the military, grew up in a melting pot, understands leadership. More than anything, he’ll cut through all the [expletive].” Since going nuclear on Trump, Popovich declined invites from the national political shows (and wouldn’t comment for this story). That proves what friends have maintained all along: Popovich doesn’t want to be anyone’s political hero or pundit. He’d rather speak when the moment calls for it, then be left alone. That last part is tricky, though. Empathy often marks Popovich's way “Can you imagine being Republican on the Spurs? Would you feel welcome? He’s like Berkeley -- for free speech unless you disagree with him. Shut up and coach, Gregg.” -- Shannon Deason  “When it comes to coaching basketball or drinking wine, Popovich has experience. When it comes to our country, his opinion is no better than anyone else’s." -- Harold Siemens, Seguin  “Open letter to the NBA referee who ejected Pop from the Warriors-Spurs game: Don’t feel bad about what Gregg Popovich called you. He called the POTUS worse and got away with it.” -- Larry Peabody Once the wheels touched down, the pilot jokingly announced over the loudspeaker: “Welcome to Gregg Popovich International Airport,” and one particular passenger noticed that nobody on the plane thought it was strange. Sean Elliott always knew how deeply rooted Popovich is with San Antonio. Aside from the famous Spanish missions and the River Walk, the city is known for the only professional sports team in town. And while George Gervin, David Robinson and Tim Duncan have come and gone, the one lingering reminder is a sometimes gruff and scruffy coach, maybe the NBA’s best ever. “He’s one of the pillars of the community,” said Elliott, twice an All-Star with the Spurs. “He’s looked at with great admiration. He is as respected as anyone who has ever lived in or been part of the city. It’s not just because he’s a basketball coach. Pop has been a big part of the community, huge contributor to charitable functions, good leader.” Elliott was a Spurs rookie in 1989 when their relationship began and he saw the start of Popovich’s reach in the region. Popovich then was an assistant coach under Larry Brown and just planting his feet in the NBA. That summer, Elliott and Popovich piled into a van with the team's "Coyote" mascot and conducted basketball clinics in San Marcos, Corpus Christi, Laredo and similar places. They were signing autographs in malls and running kids through drills in 100 degree heat, never hearing a complaint from the coach. Elliott said folks in those small conservative towns loved him. “If you sit and hear him talk about something, you tend to agree with him,” Elliott said. “He’ll put it in a logical way and he’s very thoughtful, well read and super intelligent, maybe the most intelligent person I’ve ever known.” The owner of the Spurs then was Red McCombs, a homespun Texan who made his fortune in car dealerships and media companies. McCombs didn’t give Popovich the coaching job after firing Brown, telling Popovich “you’ve got a chance to be a great coach” if he got more experience, which he did, going to the Warriors to work for Don Nelson. Popovich returned to San Antonio two years later as general manager, then became coach and the rest is history. Now 90, McCombs said: “Popovich has become the distinguished part of the franchise. He wears it well. Can’t say enough about what kind of man he is and what he’s meant to San Antonio. God has blessed us with Gregg Popovich.” McCombs loves to tell how Popovich, by chance, learned that a local family needed a car. The coach wrote a check, gave it to the father and walked away. McCombs said it was “typical Popovich” who has empathy for those with less. McCombs, curiously, has traditionally been one of the biggest Republican bankrollers in the state, who gave to the Trump campaign and is fully aware of what Popovich thinks of his choice for President. And so one of the most powerful men in Central Texas, who leans politically to the color of his nickname, had a strong reaction to that. “He’s earned the right to give his comments about citizenship or Trump or anything else,” said McCombs, voice rising. “Yes, he made some statements that others might disagree with. But I’ll tell you this: Popovich would be elected to anything he wants to in San Antonio.” Remaining silent never an option “Our country is not an embarrassment to the world. I will tell you what an embarrassment is. It is an American citizen who got a free education from the great Air Force Academy ... and then has the audacity to say that the greatest nation in the world is an embarrassment because the President rightly demands that Americans stand for the anthem. Popovich should be ashamed of himself.” -- Nick DeLouis, Fair Oaks Ranch  “Nowhere on God’s green Earth do they have the right to disrespect our flag and the men and women who died to keep us free. I’m appalled that you stooped so low to join in that disrespect. Shame on you!” -- Fred Martin, Fair Oaks Ranch  “Coach Pop has squashed my love and enthusiasm for the team. A national treasure, he is not. Coach Pop has a voice, but not my voice." -- Jo Ivan A few years ago Popovich was in New York with his daughter to catch a Broadway play when the coach had a last minute change in strategy. He learned that John Carlos was giving a lecture at New York University that night. So Popovich told his daughter to take one of her friends instead; said he was going to see “Dr. Carlos” speak. “When he came in I was surprised and delighted,” Carlos said recently. “Quite naturally, everyone knew who he was but he just wanted to sit and listen.” A year later, in 2015, Popovich flew Carlos to San Antonio to address the team and Carlos admitted to being star struck around Tim Duncan and others. Yet Carlos was most curious about Popovich and why the coach took a strong interest in an Olympic sprinter who raised a fist on the victory stand in 1968, which is frozen as an iconic civil rights moment. “Being with the Spurs gave me an opportunity to check his character out,” Carlos said. “I knew he was a whiz at putting players together to bring out their best ability. But through my conversations with him it became apparent that he was a social activist himself at one point in his life. He was teaching his players about activism and to be concerned about their fellow man and what was going on around their lives, not just basketball. “I was impressed. He just wanted them to know they had a larger role than just playing basketball in the society in which they live.” Carlos, therefore, was not surprised to see Popovich defend the rights of kneeling black football players who came under attack from Trump. On the first day of training camp in September, Popovich said: “Obviously race is the elephant in the room and we all understand that. Unless it is talked about constantly it is not going to get better.” What followed was another swirl of exchanges between Popovich critics and supporters in San Antonio, and Popovich acknowledged receiving mail from both sides. The anti-Pop mail, though, was jarring to Carlos, given the coach’s work in town. “When people write and lambast him for taking leaders to task for what they’re doing to society, that’s like water rolling off a duck’s back, man,” Carlos said. “When they write negative things about him, it encourages him to keep doing what he’s doing. Those people are the problem. Go ahead and throw stones and it just motivates him to do his job. “Look, I’m a black man who spoke out. Imagine what they think of him as a white man who speaks just as strong, to try and get people to see things in a better light? They throw stones at him even more, like, 'Hey you’re white, you have a great life. Keep your mouth shut.’ Well, God points people in certain directions. We know who we are. We do what we do.” And what Popovich does is enlist the help of giants in the social justice world and bring them into his world. He did that with Cornel West, the Harvard professor and civil rights activist, last fall. Popovich invited West to San Antonio to speak at an East Side community center with a few hundred mostly black and Latino students and their parents. Done without TV cameras or media invitation, the discussion was about the importance of education, the imperfect world, self respect and how to help communities. This was an audience that, presumably and unanimously, connected with a white man who didn’t live among them, but was with them. They were the people Popovich had in mind when he attacked present leadership. This was not the audience that writes to the Spurs and the Express-News asking him to take a vow of silence, though he is aware of them, too. “Some responses make you wonder what country you live in,” Popovich said, “and other responses make you very hopeful … overall, it renews my feeling that something must be done because there is enough people willing to listen.” Veteran NBA writer Shaun Powell has worked for newspapers and other publications for more than 25 years. You can e-mail him here or follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 5th, 2018

Falcons show playoff poise in 26-13 win over upstart LA Rams

By Greg Beacham, Associated Press LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Atlanta Falcons jumped to an early 13-point lead before the Rams mounted two swift scoring drives. Los Angeles went to the Coliseum locker room at halftime with just a three-point deficit amid raucous cheers from a home crowd thirsty for playoff success. And then Matt Ryan and the tough, tested Falcons showed the upstart Rams what postseason poise is all about. Ryan passed for 218 yards and hit Julio Jones for an 8-yard touchdown with 5:48 to play, and the defending NFC champion Falcons advanced from the wild-card round with a 26-13 victory over the Rams on Saturday night. Devonta Freeman rushed for an early score and Matt Bryant kicked four field goals for the Falcons (11-6), who spoiled the Rams' first playoff game in 13 years with a methodical performance derived from hard-earned experience. Atlanta's journey to the Super Bowl last season ended infamously with that blown 28-3 lead against New England. In their first playoff game since, the Falcons allowed no surprises from the NFC West champion Rams (11-6). "We knew it was a situation we've been through before," Atlanta defensive tackle Dontari Poe said. "We just had to keep playing and use what we've learned." Jones caught nine passes for 94 yards for Atlanta, which never trailed while winning playoff games in consecutive seasons for the first time in franchise history. Against an opponent that had just six players on its roster with prior postseason appearances, the Falcons' experience showed through. "I think having gone through these situations, understanding what it's like, the atmosphere, those kinds of things, knowing that it's going to be tough, all those things kind of carry forward," Ryan said. "But at the end of the day, experience or no experience, you've got to execute." The Falcons advanced to face the top-seeded Eagles on Jan. 13 in Philadelphia. "Doesn't matter where we're going, we're going," Ryan said. "And that's the most exciting part." A raucous crowd of 74,300 packed the Coliseum on a crisp evening for the first NFL playoff game in the nation's second-largest city since early 1994. Los Angeles went 21 years without pro football before the Rams returned last season, and the franchise emphatically ended a 13-year streak of non-winning seasons this fall with an inspiring run to the Rams' first division title since 2003. But the Falcons have been here before, and they showed it. The Falcons jumped to their early lead by capitalizing on two mistakes by Pharoh Cooper, the Rams' Pro Bowl kick returner. Atlanta's offense then chewed up the clock and field position, with the first drive after halftime consuming 8:15. "To end with a time of possession over 37 minutes, that's hard to do in our league," Atlanta coach Dan Quinn said. "There was a nine-minute drive to start the second half, and I thought that really set the tone." The Falcons' defense did more than enough to slow down the NFL's highest-scoring offense, harassing Jared Goff into a 24-for-45 performance in his playoff debut. "They did a real nice job there moving the ball up the field and keeping us on the sideline," Goff said. "That can sure get you out of your rhythm." Robert Woods caught nine passes for 142 yards for the Rams, but rookie Cooper Kupp scored their only touchdown late in the first half. Atlanta held MVP candidate Todd Gurley to 101 yards rushing — just 43 in the first three quarters — and four receptions for a mere 10 yards. The Falcons ruined a celebratory night for the Rams, who rebounded from a rough homecoming season in 2016 with an outstanding debut year under 31-year-old Sean McVay, the youngest head coach to reach the playoffs in NFL history. "You see why the Falcons are the defending NFC champs," McVay said. "Certainly this is a humbling game. ... This is an experience that we can learn from. But I don't think this game was too big for our guys." The Rams' offense finally figured it out late in the first half: Goff made several sharp throws on a 79-yard drive ending in Kupp's TD catch, and Sam Ficken's first field goal trimmed the halftime deficit to 13-10. But the Rams' defense simply couldn't get off the field in the third quarter, whether due to missed tackles or clever play-calling by the Falcons. Los Angeles trimmed the lead to 19-13 with 10:49 to play, but the Falcons made another drive highlighted by a beautiful 52-yard screen pass from a blitz-avoiding Bryant to Mohamed Sanu. Jones then caught the sixth playoff TD pass of his career. Goff drove the Rams deep into Falcons territory, but LA turned it over on down at the Atlanta 5 with 2:05 to play. The Falcons stopped the Rams again on downs at midfield with 1:08 left. SARK'S RETURN Although the Falcons' offense took a step back in production this season, Atlanta chipped away at the Rams' defense throughout the Coliseum return of offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian, who coached USC here until 2015. Ryan was methodical under relentless pressure from All-Pro lineman Aaron Donald, repeatedly avoiding trouble and making big throws. Freeman rushed for 66 yards, and Sanu had that key 52-yard gain on a screen pass. "Great call by Sark," Ryan said. COOPER'S MISTAKES Cooper is headed to the Pro Bowl after his outstanding regular season as a kick returner, but the second-year pro's misadventures in his playoff debut cost the Rams dearly. He muffed a punt that bounced off teammate Blake Countess in the first quarter, and Bryant subsequently hit the Falcons' first field goal. After Bryant's second field goal later in the quarter, Cooper got stripped by Damontae Kazee during a kickoff return at the Rams 32, and the Falcons drove for Freeman's short TD run. UP NEXT After the Falcons' defensive performance against Goff, they look like a potential problem for the powerful Eagles without quarterback Carson Wentz in the early Saturday divisional playoff game......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 7th, 2018

24 NBA questions before 17-18 tips off

By David Aldridge, TNT analyst The season starts on Tuesday night (Wednesday, PHL time). You’ve been waiting patiently all summer with your questions. Fire away.     1. So … what’s the point of playing this season? The Golden State Warriors are still the prohibitive favorites to repeat this season, next season and into the foreseeable future. But it was good to see a good chunk of the Western Conference -- the Houston Rockets, Oklahoma City Thunder and Denver Nuggets, to name three teams -- not fold before the first card is dealt. That fact alone is incredibly important. The Warriors are still the best team in the West, without question. But if teams don’t even try to get better, or spend money to compete, the whole rationale for playing fades away. The Thunder could have rode Russell Westbrook alone to another first-round playoff loss, watched him walk out the door in free agency next summer and thrown up its hands, plead ‘woe is us and all small-market teams,’ and enjoyed a luxury tax-free life for the next few years. The Rockets could have just kept selling tickets to fans to watch James Harden and his pals shoot 50 threes a game for the next two or three years. It’s an appealing brand of basketball. Denver could have just kept building through the Draft, climbing a few more wins here or there for a while, and snuck into the eighth seed, choosing to be comfortable rather than bold. But they didn’t. They’ve called and raised. In all likelihood, it won’t be enough to beat Golden State. But those teams can sleep well at night. They’re not cheating their players, or fans. 2. So, is OKC now a legit threat to the Warriors? The short answer: no. But it’s closer. Carmelo Anthony will be as good a third option as anyone in the league has, though; he will eat regularly on the weak side as defenses scramble to handle Westbrook-Paul George pick and rolls; a quick seal and ‘Melo will be off to the races. If coach Billy Donovan goes small ball with Patrick Patterson at the five, there will be many nights when OKC drops a 130 spot. Yes, the Thunder’s defense is going to be an issue; while Enes Kanter was a sieve off the bench, he was coming off the bench, playing behind Steven Adams. Anthony will be starting and playing big minutes, many at the four. But it won’t matter most nights when the Thunder is up 20 to start the fourth quarter, after 36 minutes of Westbrook sorties, George 3-pointers and transition dunks, and Carmelo post-ups and spot-ups (he shot 44.8 percent last season on catch and shoot shots. Among forwards who played 30 or more minutes last season, per NBA.com/Stats, only Kevin Durant, Otto Porter and Kawhi Leonard shot better). The Thunder can guard you with George, Andre Roberson and Adams and they can outscore you with Westbrook and George and ‘Melo. They have a solid bench (Patterson, Ray Felton, Jerami Grant, Alex Abrines) and Westbrook won’t be physically spent by the end of the 2018 playoffs. Wait; what am I saying? Of course he’ll be spent. But he’ll also be playing way deeper into May. 3. Did not getting Anthony hurt Houston or nah? The Rockets -- okay, Chris Paul -- wanted this done bad. It won’t hurt Houston in the regular season, when Paul and James Harden will dominate. And while Harden didn’t like Kevin McHale’s critique of his leadership, Mac was spot on. That doesn’t make “The Beard” a bad guy or teammate -- people gravitate to their comfortable roles in life, and CP3 is a natural-born leader. Harden will, one thinks, be more comfortable with slightly less light on him. They’ll do fine playing together and off one another. But the shadow of the Rockets’ implosion from deep -- 29 of 88 on three-pointers the last two games against the Spurs in their Western Conference semifinals series -- still hangs over them. Ryan Anderson was negated in the postseason. There’s a reason CP3 pushed for ‘Melo so hard. The Rockets will need unexpected consistent offense from a P.J. Tucker or Luc Mbah a Moute in May if they have any hopes of playing in June. 4. Can we just start the Cleveland-Boston East finals now? Maybe Toronto, with C.J. Miles shooting 40 percent on 3-pointers to complement Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan, will break up what seems inevitable. Maybe Washington, with its super-solid starting five intact, now has the mental toughness to bust past the second round, where it’s been beached three of the last four postseasons. But it doesn’t feel like that. Boston, ultimately, should be a lot better this season than last. It will take a while for coach Brad Stevens to figure out the rotation and whether Jaylen Brown can really stick at the two, but ultimately, the Celtics have two dynamic playmakers/scorers in Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward, and with Al Horford providing the glue at both ends, they’re going to be a load by the end of the season. And while Cleveland will have to wait a while for Isaiah Thomas, the Cavs have more than enough firepower until Thomas can make his debut. Whatever Dwyane Wade has left will be accentuated playing with James, and Kevin Love (holy moly, is he underrated) will feast drawing slower, bigger centers out to him on the perimeter. J.R. Smith doesn’t like losing his starting job to Wade, and he should be ticked. But he nonetheless will help Cleveland’s bench, which will be incredibly difficult in its own right with Tristan Thompson and Kyle Korver complementing Smith. And that’s before Thomas returns, which will put Derrick Rose on that second unit. There won’t be any rest for defenses who’ll then have to contend with a rested James, et al, coming back. It says here that not only will the Cavs not miss Irving offensively, they could be even more diverse and difficult to guard this season. Not to mention that James is supremely motivated to make an eighth straight Finals. 5. Could Curry break his record of 402 3-pointers in a season? At first glance, with Durant and Klay and Draymond (and, now, Nick Young) all needing to get fed as well, it would seem impossible for Curry to best the mark he set two years ago, on the 73-9 regular season team. But consider: coach Steve Kerr thinks a new guy always blossoms in his second year with the Warriors, which means Durant should be even more lethal offensively this year, as the Warriors’ offense reaches an even higher level of efficiency. And the way they move the ball, it’s not a stretch to think that with defenses tripping over themselves to get to Durant, Curry could get into one of those ridiculous grooves that could leave him within striking distance of 402 by the end of the season. 6. Could the last one in the Eastern Conference turn out the lights? The New York Knicks were hardly a power in the East before trading Anthony, but his departure creates one more team that will struggle to win 35 games this season. With the paucity of talent there should be at least four 50-win teams in the East -- Cleveland, Boston, Toronto and Washington -- with the Milwaukee Bucks knocking on the door. 7. Who’s going to regret their offseason? The Bucks were fine off the court -- their new arena is already more than halfway constructed and looks like it’s going to be a gem -- although the surrounding mall that is supposed to be part of the complex is not going up as quickly. But the Bucks didn’t address their bigs-heavy roster and move some of the surplus -- how can coach Jason Kidd keep all of Greg Monroe, Jabari Parker and John Henson happy with Thon Maker scarfing up more and more frontcourt minutes? -- for the shooting Milwaukee still needs. The East is so open, and Milwaukee is so close to breaking through into elite status with Giannis Antetokounmpo an elite performer. 8. Rudy Gay -- sneaky good pickup? Gay says he’s cool starting or coming off the bench for the Spurs, but he’d best as San Antonio’s sixth man, at least to start things. Bringing Pau Gasol off the bench didn’t work so well, so if he’s starting at center, coach Gregg Popovich can’t go small ball with “Cousin” LaMarcus Aldridge at the five and Gay at the four alongside Kawhi Leonard. (Current state of Spurs fans’ cuticles here and here as they consider a season with an extended Klaw absence if this quad injury doesn’t improve soon.) The Spurs could have some serious firepower in reserve if Gay and Patty Mills come off the bench, but Mills or Dejounte Murray will likely have to start at the point until Tony Parker comes back. 9. Speaking of Popovich … Should he and Steve Kerr and Stan Van Gundy stick to sports? No. 10. Who’s gonna be Kia Rookie of the Year? I say Markelle Fultz. What, you thought I was gonna pick against a DeMatha Catholic man? (Actual unretouched photo of me as a sophomore at the most successful high school in the history of the United States may or may not be here). Playing off of Joel Embiid, J.J. Redick, Robert Covington … it’s hard to see Fultz not looking really good when he should have all kinds of room to operate. Lonzo Ball will put up bigger numbers, and Tatum will be on a better team. But Boston was good last year, and Jayson Tatum will likely not play as much as the others. The Sixers are poised for a big jump up in the standings, and that’s always a narrative that voters like and get behind -- which is what will hurt Dennis Smith Jr.'s chances in Dallas. 11. What does Dwyane Wade really have left? Now that the inevitable buyout of Wade’s $24 million deal by the Bulls has led to the equally inevitable trek to Cleveland to play with James, can the 35-year-old Wade still be a significant contributor on a title contender? Given the general dysfunction in Chicago last season, you can dismiss most of the good and bad numbers Wade put up, with two exceptions: he still averaged almost five free throw attempts per game, and he shot 31 percent on 3-pointers -- not great, but more than double his anemic 15.9 percent behind the arc in 2015-16, his last with the Miami Heat. Wade obviously knows the cheat code for how to most effectively play off of James, so he’ll use the regular season to learn his teammates and be ready for the playoffs. But can Wade hold up over seven games defensively if he has to chase, say, Bradley Beal around, or try to deny DeRozan his preferred mid-range spots, and still be productive offensively? 12. Back to the Sixers -- how good will they be? My guess is they’ll pretty good in the 60 or so games I anticipate Embiid will play this season -- I’m assuming several designated off days for him during the season, not another injury. The mix of young talent (Fultz, Embiid, Ben Simmons, Dario Saric, Covington) and crafty vets (Redick, Amir Johnson) should mesh to make the 76ers a very tough team to defend. But Philly has to resolve the Jahlil Okafor situation, and in fairness to him, give him a fresh start somewhere else with a trade as soon as possible. If I were a good team that would be hard-pressed to add a free agent any time soon and feels a player short of true contention -- I’m looking at you, Memphis Grizzlies and Wizards -- I’d work hard to get the new, slimmed-down Okafor on my squad while he’s still on his rookie contract and make him the focal point of a kick-ass second unit. 13. Should we feel some kind of way about the Trail Blazers? I’m picking up what you’re putting down. A full season of the “Bosnian Beast” in the middle, it says here, will vault Portland into the top four in the West. Note I said “full season.” That means Jusuf Nurkic has to give coach Terry Stotts between 65-70 starts for the above premonition to be, as they say in the legal world, actionable. If so, Nurkic’s underrated scoring and passing out of the post will only make Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum that much more deadly out front, along with improving Portland’s defense. Per Basketball-Reference.com, the Blazers were 11.6 points per game better than the opposition with those three on the floor together and a +5 when their regular five-man lineup with Maurice Harkless and Al-Farouq Aminu joined the guards and Nurkic. And that’s pronounced, “Noor-kitch,” accent on Noor. 13. A little movie break ... Kevin Costner’s accent in “Robin Hood” -- worst ever, right? Yes, but Natalie Wood’s in “West Side Story” was painful, too. 14. Many have written the post-CP3 Clippers off. Should they? The Clippers are my darkhorse this season -- if they do the right thing and go small more often. They’re doing it more in practice so far than in games because Danilo Gallinari is working through a foot injury, but Blake Griffin at the five and Gallinari at the four could be spicy during the regular season. That would mean Sam Dekker and/or Wes Johnson would have to become credible and dependable at the three, allowing coach Doc Rivers to play a Pat Beverly-Milos Teodosic backcourt more often, which will just be fun. This would, of course, mean less DeAndre Jordan, and … that may not be the worst thing. Nothing against DJ, who is the best defensive big in the league, bar none. Unfortunately, the NBA isn’t about defense any more -- at least not in the traditional sense. Even someone like Jordan who doesn’t just block shots, but also helps snuff out opposing pick and rolls, becomes less valued by the league’s advanced stats crowd if he doesn’t contribute more offensively. The three has gone a long way to tyrannizing the defense-dominant big man out of the game. (Zach Lowe recommends the Wizards try to get Jordan via trade, and it’s not the first time I’ve heard that name mentioned in connection with Washington, the idea being the only chance the Wizards have of beating Cleveland or Boston is to slow them down enough defensively that Wall-Beal-Porter can try and keep up offensively. Washington is definitely a load when Wall gets locked in on D and creates turnovers, and the idea of Jordan inhaling lobs from Wall is enticing to think about. But the Wizards are not -- not -- going to take on a fourth big contract, and Jordan’s surely going to opt out after this season; he’s rightly expecting a massive payday in 2018, and the Clippers certainly now have motive and means to retain him.) Anyway, some Lou Williams, Austin Rivers and/or Teodosic and Willie Reed off the bench isn’t bad, either. 15. Could Kyle Kuzma be the best rookie on the Lakers this season? Don’t @me, LaVar. Kuzma has followed up a very strong Vegas Summer League with high notes in preseason, averaging better than 19 points per game for the Lakers. He’s been dazzling at times, displaying in-between skills that intrigue, and showing why so many teams were trying to trade back into the first round to get the Utah forward before L.A. snagged him with its second and much less heralded first-round pick last June. And there will be minutes available at the four this season. So far, Kuzma has displayed unusual strength for a rookie and confidence in his ability to score. Of course, he’s inexperienced, and like all rookies, has to differentiate between an open shot and a good shot. The other, more famous first-rounder, Lonzo Ball, will almost certainly be the better all-around player in time. For this year, though … hmmm. 16. What does a Hawks fan have to look forward to this season? Honestly, not much. But they’ll always be well-coached and get better. I’d pick one of the young players, like rookie John Collins or second-year small forward Taurean Prince, and concentrate on them during the season. See what they do with their minutes on the floor, and watch how they gradually expand their games at both ends. Seeing a young guy get better as he gains experience and accepts coaching is one of the great joys of watching the NBA every night. 17. Orlando? What gives there? The team’s new braintrust of Jeff Weltman and John Hammond will need some time to fix the roster -- a mélange of athletic wings that have trouble defending and guards that have trouble shooting. The former is addressed somewhat with the signing of Jonathon Simmons from San Antonio, but I don’t see a solution to the latter with any of the existing backcourt contributors. Unless coach Frank Vogel figures out some way to get more turnovers/runouts from his group, they just can’t get in transition enough for their length and legs to make a difference. 18. New Orleans? What gives there? The short answer is, I have no idea. All of NBA Earth has DeMarcus Cousins out of there one way or another (he’s an unrestricted free agent in ’18 and wants to be on a contender/the Pelicans will never pay him what he wants and will have to trade him by the deadline/no way he and Anthony Davis fit together/Wall agitates for a reunion with his former Kentucky big man in D.C./your departure theory here) by this time next year, but we’ll see what coach Alvin Gentry has come up with for “Boogie” and “the Brow” after a summer to think it over. Rajon Rondo being out hurts their depth, but I have to be honest -- I don’t see how he and Jrue Holiday can possibly work together in a backcourt, and Holiday’s the guy the Pelicans just gave $125 million to, so he should probably have the ball in his hands every night, shouldn’t he? I like Ian Clark and Frank Jackson down there, but that untethered three spot burns a hole in the New Orleans sun. Well, at any rate, should be more fun than watching reruns of My Life on the D-List. 19. Favorite D-List Muppet? Beaker. 20. LeBron is leaving Cleveland again after this season, isn’t he? Everything points to yes, and a relocation to Los Angeles to play with the Lakers or Clippers next year – except … what if the Cavs win it all again this year? That’s not an impossible scenario -- in fact, it’s a pretty simple one to lay out: Cavs run roughshod through the Eastern Conference in the playoffs again, get through a good but hardly great Boston team in the conference Finals and set up a fourth straight encounter with Golden State. It’s easy now to say the Warriors dominated the Cavs in last season’s Finals -- but only if you ignore the fact that Cleveland led by six with just more than three minutes remaining in Game 3, only to see the Warriors score the game’s last 11 points to take a 3-0 lead instead of 2-1. And given that Cleveland vaporized the Warriors in Game 4, a 2-2 series would have meant the Cavs just needed to win once in Oracle -- which they’d done twice in the 2016 Finals -- to have a real shot at repeating. The point is, the difference between the teams isn’t as big as Draymond Green would have you believe; the Cavs have no fear of the Warriors, and Jae Crowder gives coach Tyronn Lue a viable on-ball defender for Kevin Durant, leaving LeBron free to play off of Green. And: that unprotected Nets pick, whether one or three or five or seven, is Cleveland’s best recruiting tool. LeBron knows everyone in college basketball and he can literally pick whoever he’d like to finish his career with in Cleveland before handing over the reins. I’m not saying he’s definitely staying, either -- only that his departure isn’t the lead pipe cinch some would have you believe. The season to come will have a lot to do with his next decision. 21. So, how will the playoffs go this season? Eastern Conference (seeds No. 1-8): Cleveland, Boston, Washington, Toronto, Milwaukee, Miami, Detroit, Philadelphia Western Conference (seeds No. 1-8): Golden State, Houston, Oklahoma City, Portland, San Antonio, Memphis, Utah, Minnesota Eastern Conference semifinalists: Cleveland, Boston, Washington, Milwaukee Western Conference semifinalists: Golden State, Houston, OKC, San Antonio Eastern Conference finals: Cleveland over Boston Western Conference finals: Golden State over OKC (you heard me) NBA Finals: Golden State over Cleveland (in seven games) 22. Tell me something crazy that’s going to happen this season that no one’s predicting! Giannis Antetokounmpo. NBA MVP, 2017-18. 23. Are you high? No, ma’am. 24. So, why 24 questions? As always, we start the season with 24 questions (or predictions, or issues, whatever) in honor of Danny Biasone, the late owner of the Syracuse Nationals, whose discovery in 1954 helped save the league. At that time, the NBA was in the midst of a literal slowdown, in large part by teams that were desperate to figure out some kind of way to stay competitive with George Mikan, the league’s first superstar big man, and his team, the Minneapolis Lakers. Teams would hold the ball for minutes at a time without shooting in an effort to shorten the game and give them a chance to beat Minneapolis late. But the end result was boring -- very boring -- basketball. At the owners’ meetings that year, Biasone came up with an idea. NBA games were 48 minutes long. Biasone figured out that in a normal game, one not waylaid by the slowdown tactics, about 120 shots -- 60 per team -- were taken. So, why not just divide the number of minutes in every game -- 2,880 -- by the number of shots in an average game -- 120 -- to come up with some kind of a time limit in which a team had to shoot. And thus, the 24-second shot clock (2,800/120) was born. With the implementation of the shot clock in the 1954-55 season, scoring went way up, as did the quality of play. Teams were now running up and down the floor in order to try and beat the shot clock, complementing the “fast break” game that many colleges had played for years. But the new style in the pros was immensely popular with fans. And it still is. Plus, there’s just something iconic about that clock counting down every 24 seconds. It’s unique to the NBA. Thus, we ask 24 questions, in honor of the guy who owned a bowling alley as well as the Nationals for much of his adult life, and probably enjoyed the bowling more. 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 NewsOct 17th, 2017

Different feel for champion Cubs heading into these playoffs

em>By Jay Cohen, Associated Press /em> CHICAGO (AP) — There are no billy goats this time. No more lovable losers, either. A year after their historic World Series run, the Cubs are back in the playoffs for the third straight season. For some Chicago toddlers, with names like Addison, Clark and Wrigley, this is all they have ever known — an almost unfathomable notion for generations of Cubs fans. But unlike last year, when the Cubs’ run to their first championship since 1908 captivated the country, they are just another playoff team this time around. Cody Bellinger and the Los Angeles Dodgers rolled to a major league-high 104 wins. Cleveland and Houston also won 100-plus games, and the Nationals have Bryce Harper back for the best-of-five NL Division Series against Chicago, starting Friday in Washington. That’s just fine with Anthony Rizzo and company. “It doesn’t really matter to me, to be honest,” Rizzo said. “In my opinion we’re the favorites to win it all again. In Bryce Harper’s opinion, they’re the favorites. In Bellinger’s opinion, they’re the favorites, with the Dodgers. So everyone’s the favorites. You’ve just got to go out and play.” While they are no longer America’s favorite team — not after months of national TV appearances, magazine covers and cereal boxes — the Cubs return to the playoffs with something more valuable. After making to the NL Championship Series in 2015 and beating the Indians in an epic World Series last fall, they welcome the pressure of October. “Underdogs or overdogs, whatever,” manager Joe Maddon said. “The thing that feels different is that we know how to do this.” The Cubs were shut out in consecutive games in the NLCS last year before they eliminated the Dodgers with three straight wins. They dropped three of the first four games in the World Series, and then put together another three-game win streak to take home the title. Now free of everything that went along with the franchise’s long championship drought, the Cubs are looking forward to putting their experience to good use. “This year, it’s a different feel for sure,” said Ben Zobrist, who won the World Series MVP award last fall. “As a club we feel like all those memories are very fresh, knowing how the postseason feels, and I think everybody’s just really excited about the chance to get back into that same mode of thinking, that same adrenaline rush.” That chance was hardly a given when Chicago was 43-45 on July 9 and 5 1/2 games back of NL Central-leading Milwaukee. But the Cubs roared by the Brewers with a 49-25 record for the last part of the season. Chicago led the majors with 423 runs after the All-Star break. It became the first defending World Series champion to win its division since the 2009 Philadelphia Phillies. “I think guys just came together a little more and we played more Cubs-style baseball, where you see guys having fun and laughing, messing around,” Rizzo said. “I really think that was just it.” No team has repeated as World Series champion since the New York Yankees won three in a row from 1998-2000, and Chicago faces a stiff test in the first round. The NL East champion Nationals have one of the deepest lineups in the majors and a strong rotation fronted by aces Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg. All Maddon is looking for from his club is more of the same. “I just want our guys to go out and continue doing what we’ve been doing since the All-Star break,” he said. “No different, no different. Go out and play, play unencumbered, play mentally freely and just play out the game that we’ve learned to play over the last couple years. That’s it.”   .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 3rd, 2017

Joe Maddon wins in return to Tropicana Field

ST. PETERSBURG, Florida (AP) — Mike Montgomery took a no-hit bid into the sixth inning, Kyle Schwarber hit his 28th home run and the Chicago Cubs extended their winning streak to a season-high seven games by beating the Tampa Bay Rays 2-1 on Tuesday in manager Joe Maddon's return to Tropicana Field. Maddon managed Tampa Bay from 2006-14, then left for Chicago and last year led the Cubs to their first World Series title since 1908. Chicago holds a 3½-game lead over second-place Milwaukee in the NL Central. A crowd of 25,046, the largest at the Trop since opening day, gave Maddon a standing ovation in the middle of the first inning. Montgomery (7-8) allowed one hit in six innings, a one-out homer in the sixth by Brad Miller. The left-hander struck out six and walked one. Pedro Strop, Carl Edwards Jr. and Wade Davis each followed with an inning of perfect relief to complete the one-hitter. Davis struck out the side and remained perfect in 32 save chances. Javier Baez hit an RBI double against Chris Archer (9-11), who gave up four hits in six innings. strong>INDIANS 6, ANGELS 3 /strong> ANAHEIM, California (AP) — Jay Bruce had a triple and a double among his three hits, Austin Jackson singled four times and the incredible Cleveland Indians notched their 25th victory in 26 games. Roberto Perez added a solo home run for the AL Central champions to support a strong outing by Mike Clevinger (11-5). Los Angeles' offense struggled for the third consecutive game as the Angels missed a chance to gain ground on Minnesota in their bid for the final American League playoff berth. strong>RED SOX 1, ORIOLES 0, 11 INNINGS /strong> BALTIMORE (AP) — Jackie Bradley Jr. scored the game's lone run on a wild pitch by Brad Brach in the 11th inning, helping the Red Sox improve to 15-3 in extra-inning games. Boston has won 10 of 13 to move a season-high 23 games over .500 (87-64) and draw closer to clinching a postseason berth. The Red Sox stayed three games ahead of the second-place Yankees in the AL East. With a runner on second and two outs in the 11th, Brach (4-5) walked Andrew Benintendi and Mookie Betts to load the bases for Mitch Moreland, who sidestepped a bouncing pitch from Brach that enabled Bradley to score without a throw. Joe Kelly (4-1) worked the 10th and Matt Barnes got three outs for his first save. The Orioles have lost 11 of 13 to fall out of contention. strong>YANKEES 5, TWINS 2 /strong> NEW YORK (AP) — CC Sabathia recovered from a shaky start to pitch six innings, Brett Gardner had a pair of tying hits and the Yankees clinched their sixth straight series win. With their ninth victory in 11 games, the Yankees opened six-game lead over the Twins for the top AL wild card. Minnesota, which started the night 1 1/2 games ahead of the Los Angeles Angels for the second AL wild card, has lost four of five. Pitching on seven days' rest in a game that started 65 minutes late because of a downpour, Sabathia (12-5) allowed two runs and six hits. Aroldis Chapman worked a scoreless ninth for his 20th save in 24 chances. Minnesota right-hander Jose Berrios (12-8) yielded three runs in 3 1/3 innings. strong>PHILLIES 6, DODGERS 2 /strong> PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Rhys Hoskins had four RBIs for Philadelphia, including a tiebreaking three-run double off Pedro Baez in seventh inning. Los Angeles' magic number to clinch its fifth straight division title is two. The Dodgers have lost three consecutive games and 19 of 24. Hoskins saw 30 pitches in going 2 for 3 with a walk. He knocked out Yu Darvish with a sixth-inning RBI single that cut Philadelphia's deficit to 2-1, and then doubled to the left-center gap on the 10th pitch of his at-bat against Baez (3-6) for a 5-2 lead. Aaron Nola (12-10) allowed two runs in seven innings while striking out eight. The Phillies have won seven of 10. strong>BREWERS 1, PIRATES 0 /strong> PITTSBURGH (AP) — Chase Anderson struck out eight in six innings, Domingo Santana homered and the Brewers shut out the Pirates for the second straight day. The Brewers won for the ninth time in 11 games, keeping pace in the NL Central and wild-card races. They won for the fourth time in the past seven days against reeling Pittsburgh, which has lost a season-high seven consecutive games and 12 of 13. It was the 12th shutout of the season for the Brewers, tied for the second-most in the NL. Anderson (11-3) allowed five singles. Anthony Swarzak retired six of his seven batters, and Corey Knebel earned his 37th save. Pirates right-hander Trevor Williams (6-9) pitched five innings of three-hit ball. strong>MARLINS 5, METS 4, 10 INNINGS /strong> MIAMI (AP) — J.T. Realmuto homered in the 10th inning and Miami beat New York after rallying for three runs in the ninth against former teammate A.J. Ramos. With one out, Realmuto connected off Paul Sewald (0-6) for his 17th homer. Miami trailed 4-1 in the ninth before coming back against Ramos, who faced the Marlins for the first time since they traded him to New York on July 28. Justin Bour led off with his 22nd homer, and first since a six-week stint on the disabled list. Ramos then gave up four singles, including two-out RBI hits by pinch-hitter A.J. Ellis and Ichiro Suzuki. Ramos' blown save was his first with the Mets. Major league home run leader Giancarlo Stanton walked a season-high four times and struck out in his only at-bat to remain at 55 homers with 11 games to go. strong>CARDINALS 8, REDS 7, 10 INNINGS /strong> CINCINNATI (AP) — Dexter Fowler hit a tying homer in the eighth inning and a go-ahead double in the 10th to help St. Louis get past Cincinnati. Yadier Molina and Paul DeJong also connected for the Cardinals, who were swept by NL Central-leading Chicago last weekend and had dropped four of five overall. Juan Nicasio (4-5) pitched 1 1/3 innings for the win, and Tyler Lyons got two outs for his third save. The third-place Cardinals (78-72) remained six games back of the Cubs in the division. St. Louis also is in the mix for a wild card after missing the playoffs last season. The winning rally began when Tim Adelman (5-11) hit Kolten Wong with a pitch leading off the 10th. After the double by Fowler, DeJong added a two-out RBI single. Cincinnati got one back on Scooter Gennett's 26th homer. Zack Cozart also went deep for the Reds. Each team used eight pitchers. strong>NATIONALS 4, BRAVES 2 /strong> ATLANTA (AP) — Max Scherzer allowed five hits in seven innings, and Washington tuned up for the playoffs with a victory over Atlanta. Scherzer (15-6) bounced back from his worst start of the season, also against the Braves last week, when he walked six and was roughed up for seven runs in an 8-2 loss. This time, Scherzer struck out seven and walked only one while throwing 83 of 112 pitches for strikes. Sean Doolittle earned his 22nd save, his 19th in as many chances since the Nationals acquired him from Oakland on July 16. Ryan Zimmerman had three hits and two RBIs for the NL East champions. Braves rookie Luiz Gohara (1-2) gave up four runs and 11 hits in 6 1/3 innings. strong>BLUE JAYS 5, ROYALS 2 /strong> TORONTO (AP) — Marcus Stroman pitched seven innings to win for the first time in six starts and Darwin Barney hit a two-run homer, helping the Blue Jays to the victory. Alex Gordon's solo drive for Kansas City in the eighth was the majors' 5,694th homer of the season, breaking the record set in 2000 at the height of the Steroids Era. There were 5,610 homers last year, an average of 2.31 per game, and this year's average of 2.53 entering Tuesday's action projects to 6,139. Barney went 2 for 3 with three RBIs as the Blue Jays opened their final homestand on a winning note. Stroman (12-8) allowed one run and four hits, and Roberto Osuna got his 37th save. Royals right-hander Ian Kennedy (4-12) was charged with two runs in five-plus innings. strong>ASTROS 3, WHITE SOX 1 /strong> HOUSTON (AP) — Jose Altuve homered, Alex Bregman hit an RBI double and AL West champion Houston extended its winning streak to five games with a victory over Chicago. Collin McHugh (3-2) allowed one run and five hits with five strikeouts in five innings for the Astros. It was the right-hander's first outing since detaching a fingernail on his pitching hand Sept. 8. McHugh has made only 10 starts this season after also missing time with a shoulder issue. Will Harris, Luke Gregerson and Chris Devenski each threw a scoreless inning before Ken Giles pitched the ninth for his 32nd save. Lucas Giolito (2-3) gave up two runs in 6 2/3 innings for the White Sox. strong>ATHLETICS 9, TIGERS 8 /strong> DETROIT (AP) — Jed Lowrie hit a go-ahead grand slam against Alex Wilson, and Oakland overcame a four-run deficit to beat Detroit. The Tigers trailed 3-0 in the third inning, then took an 8-4 lead into the seventh, when Ryon Healy hit a bases-loaded grounder to shortstop Jose Iglesias, who bobbled the ball for an error as Lowrie scored. Joey Wendle, Franklin Barreto and Chad Pinder started the eighth with singles off Wilson (2-5), and Lowrie followed with his third career slam. Miguel Cabrera singled off Chris Hatcher starting the bottom half and took third on Nicholas Castellanos' double. But Jeimer Candelario grounded out and, after an intentional walk, Hatcher struck out James McCann and Mikie Mahtook. Santiago Casilla (4-5) pitched a perfect seventh. Blake Treinen closed for his 12th save this season and ninth since being traded from Washington to Oakland. Oakland rookie Matt Olson homered for the fifth straight game, tying Matt Stairs (1998), Dave Kingman (1986) and George Alusik (1962) for the second-longest streak in Athletics history behind Frank Thomas' six in 2006. Olson has 15 home runs in his last 21 games. Castellanos, Alex Presley and Ian Kinsler homered for Detroit. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 20th, 2017

Bellinger ties record as Dodgers beat Nationals

WASHINGTON (AP) — Cody Bellinger hit his 38th homer to match the National League single-season record for rookies as the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Washington Nationals 3-2 Saturday to inch closer to the NL West title. Chase Utley had two doubles and scored twice to help the Dodgers reduce their magic number to win the division to five. Rich Hill and five relievers combined on a four-hitter. Los Angeles also moved seven games ahead of Washington in the race to secure home-field advantage throughout the NL playoffs. The Dodgers have won four straight since dropping 11 in a row. Anthony Rendon homered for the Nationals, who have lost four of five since clinching the NL East last Sunday. A.J. Cole (2-5) allowed three runs in five-plus innings. Hill (10-8) struck out seven while pitching five innings of one-hit ball. Kenley Jansen worked a perfect ninth for his 38th save. strong>ASTROS 8, MARINERS 6 /strong> HOUSTON (AP) — Dallas Keuchel threw six solid innings while Carlos Beltran had three hits and two RBIs to help the Astros lower their magic number for clinching the AL West title to one. The Astros (90-58), who reached 90 wins for the first time since 2004, can secure the franchise's seventh division title with one more win or a loss for the Los Angeles Angels. Los Angeles was scheduled to play Texas on Saturday night. Keuchel (13-4) allowed one run — Jean Segura's 11th homer in the sixth — and four hits. Joe Musgrove worked two innings for his first save. Seattle right-hander Erasmo Ramirez (5-6) was charged with six runs and eight hits in four-plus innings. strong>INDIANS 8, ROYALS 4 /strong> CLEVELAND (AP) — Francisco Lindor hit an RBI double and the Cleveland Indians bounced back after having their record streak stopped at 22 by beating the Kansas City Royals to move to the brink of an AL Central title. Lindor's double in the sixth off Jason Hammel (8-12) gave the All-Star shortstop an extra-base hit in a club-record 10 straight games. The major league record is 14 straight, shared by Chipper Jones (2006) and Paul Waner (1927). Carlos Carrasco (16-6) pitched into the seventh as the Indians improved to 32-5 in their last 37 games. With the win, the Indians clinched at least a tie for the division and dropped their magic number for repeating as champs to one. If Minnesota loses later at home against Toronto, Cleveland will clinch and take the next step in getting back to the World Series. A victory by the Twins would mean the Indians could lock up the division on Sunday, when ace and Cy Young co-favorite Corey Kluber starts the finale of the season's longest homestand at Progressive Field. strong>CUBS 4, CARDINALS 1 /strong> CHICAGO (AP) — Kyle Hendricks pitched effectively into the eighth inning, Addison Russell homered and the Chicago Cubs beat the St. Louis Cardinals to increase their NL Central lead. Chicago has won five straight and leads Milwaukee by 3 1/2 games and St. Louis by five in the division. Albert Almora Jr. had three hits and two RBIs for the Cubs. Russell was activated before the game after being sidelined since early August with plantar fasciitis of the right foot. He pinch hit in the eighth and hit a solo shot against Tyler Lyons to the back of the left-field bleachers. Hendricks (7-5) allowed one run and five hits in a season-high 7 2/3 innings. He struck out five and walked one. strong>REDS 2, PIRATES 1 /strong> CINCINNATI (AP) — Sal Romano pitched a career-high eight shutout innings and Jesse Winker homered as the Cincinnati Reds beat the reeling Pittsburgh Pirates. Romano (5-6) allowed five hits, struck out six and walked none while improving to 3-1 over his last six starts. Elias Diaz's one-out double in the fifth was the only runner to get past first base against the rookie right-hander. Pittsburgh avoided a shutout when Andrew McCutchen hit his 26th homer in the ninth. But Cody Reed came in with a runner on first and retired Gregory Polanco on a grounder to second for his first career save. The Pirates have dropped four straight and nine of 10. strong>YANKEES 9, ORIOLES 3 /strong> NEW YORK (AP) — Didi Gregorius and Greg Bird homered for the second straight game while rookie Jordan Montgomery pitched six shutout innings as the New York Yankees downed the Baltimore Orioles for their fourth win in a row. The Yankees (82-66) extended their stretch of winning seasons to 25, the second-longest such streak in major league history behind their own 39 straight from 1926-64. The Yankees began the day three games behind AL East-leading Boston. New York was atop the wild-card race, four games ahead of Minnesota. Gregorius and Bird each hit three-run homers and Todd Frazier added a two-run shot as the Yankees won for the seventh time in eight games. They are a season-high 16 games over .500. Baltimore has lost nine of 10 as it continues to fall out of playoff contention. Montgomery (8-7) scattered four hits in his fifth start against the Orioles this year. The rookie left-hander struck out six and walked one. Jeremy Hellickson (8-10) took the loss.   .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 17th, 2017

Referee takes retribution on player as PSG wins 1-0

By Jerome Pugmire, Associated Press PARIS (AP) — A bizarre foul committed by the referee overshadowed Paris Saint-Germain's 1-0 win on Sunday at Nantes which moved the leaders 11 points clear at the top of the French league. In a highly unusual end to the game, referee Tony Chapron sent off Nantes center half Diego Carlos in the last minute — although the official was the culprit. Carlos was running behind Chapron near the halfway line and trying to catch up with play when he inadvertently clipped the referee's heels as their paths crossed. Chapron tumbled forward onto the turf and then, in what appeared to be a blatant act of retribution, swiped his right leg at Carlos. An irate Chapron got up and brandished a second yellow card for Carlos. "I know it's a difficult job to referee, but they must also have to ask questions of themselves," Nantes midfielder Valentin Rongier said on Canal Plus television. "If we do that it goes before a (disciplinary) commission and we get 10 games (suspension)." There is little suspense in the league with PSG dropping only seven points from a possible 60. Defending champion Monaco is in second place, level on points with Lyon, but neither seemingly has the caliber to pressure PSG by going on a lengthy winning run. Even without playing its usual scintillating football, PSG was able to scrape past a lackluster Nantes side coached by Claudio Ranieri. He guided Leicester City to the 2015-16 English Premier League title in one of the biggest upsets in soccer history, but Nantes remains in fifth place and does not seem to have enough flair to go higher. Angel Di Maria scored in the 12th minute with the home defense slow to react. Kylian Mbappe left striker Edinson Cavani's probing pass go through his legs and the unmarked Di Maria toe-poked the ball into the left corner. It was his third league goal of the season and followed his brace last Sunday in the French Cup. PSG carved Nantes open with a swift counterattacking move late in the first half, but Di Maria blazed over an open goal after midfielder Adrien Rabiot set him up perfectly. Nantes striker Emiliano Sala thought he had equalized in the 60th when he headed powerfully home from a free-kick but it was harshly ruled out for offside. There was no VAR to validate the goal, even though television replays showed Sala was level with Cavani when he made his run into the area. Cavani needed just one more goal to move level with Zlatan Ibrahimovic as PSG's all-time leading scorer on 156. He could get the record at home to Dijon on Wednesday. ___ LYON STUMBLES Lyon wasted a chance to move up to second place after being held 1-1 at home by relegation-threatened Angers. Lyon equalizer through top scorer Nabil Fekir. But Angers was hanging on after having midfielder Flavien Tait sent off in the 84th minute. Third-place Lyon is one point ahead of Marseille in fourth. It was a precious point for Angers, moving it up to 18th — the relegation playoff spot. Lyon fell behind to striker Karl Toko Ekambi's penalty kick in the 14th minute. He jogged up casually with a staggered run-up, and stroked the ball to the left as goalkeeper Anthony Lopes guessed the wrong way. Toko Ekambi has 10 league goals and his performances have caught the eye. He has been linked with a move to the Premier League in this month's transfer window, which could damage Angers' chances of staying up. Two minutes after the break, Fekir opened up the defense with a superb piece of skill — dragging the ball back and then flicking it through the legs of a defender. The ball rolled toward forward Maxwell Cornet but Fekir sprinted alongside him and drilled it into the bottom corner. It was Fekir's 14th league goal of the season in a career-best tally. He is expected to make a big-money move to a top club in the summer. ___ MOVING CLEAR Saint-Etienne moved away from the relegation zone after beating fellow struggler Toulouse 2-0. Slovenia striker Robert Beric scored his first goal of the season from the penalty spot moments before halftime. Senegalese midfielder Assane Diousse got his first for the club when he sealed the win in the 86th minute. Saint-Etienne moved up to 14th place. Toulouse is 19th and the pressure is increasing on coach Pascal Dupraz......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 15th, 2018

Team Lakay s Geje Eustaquio gets ONE interim title shot in Manila

Team Lakay flyweight Geje 'Gravity' Eustaquio gets a massive opportunity to start 2018, fights for the ONE Championship interim flyweight world title at ONE: Global Superheroes on Friday, January 26th at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City, Manila.  Baguio native Eustaquio will meet former flyweight world champion Kairat Akhmetov of Kazakhstan in a rematch of their controversial three-round war back in 2017 that went to the former champion via split decision.  Regarded as one of the most talented strikers in the flyweight division, the 28-year old Eustaquio had won three of his last four bouts prior to the controversial loss to Akhmetov, which included a successful return to the flyweight division against Thailand's Anatpong 'Mak' Bunrad.  Six of Eustaquio's nine career wins have come under the ONE banner, which includes victories over veterans Gianni Subba, Saiful Merican, and current ONE strawweight world champion Alex Silva.  The owner of an impressive 23-1 professional record, Almaty, Kazakhstan's Akhmetov came into ONE as an unbeaten prospect and immediately left a mark by snatching the flyweight world title from Adriano Moraes in his promotional debut.  Moraes would regain the title back two years later, but not without a fight from the Kazakh.  In Eustaquio and Akhmetov's first meeting back in September of 2017, many believed that the Filipino was denied a knockout win by an errant call from referee Yuji Shimada.  During the first round, Eustaquio landed a barrage of upkicks, stunning Akhmetov. Shimada paused the action and allowed the former champion to recover.  Akhmetov would later get the split decision nod after three rounds.  Eustaquio now gets the chance to avenge his loss and capture interim title gold in front of a partisan Filipino crowd at the MoA Arena.  Joining Eustaquio on the Manila card will be Team Lakay teammates in former strawweight title challenger Joshua 'The Passion' Pacio and featherweight contender Edward 'The Ferocious' Kelly, as well as Filipino lightweight veteran Eric 'The Natural' Kelly.  Full ONE Championship: Global Superheroes fight card to be announced soon.    ONE Championship: Global Superheroes happens on Friday, January 26th at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City, Manila.  Catch the telecast on January 26th, 8:30 PM LIVE on S+A channel 23......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 10th, 2018

Bengals give coach Marvin Lewis 2-year extension

By Joe Kay, Associated Press CINCINNATI (AP) — Coach Marvin Lewis got a two-year contract extension Tuesday, providing more chances to try to get the Cincinnati Bengals that playoff victory that has eluded him for 15 seasons. The agreement came after a second straight losing season and two days of discussions with owner Mike Brown. Lewis has the second-longest active coaching tenure in the NFL, behind Bill Belichick’s 18 seasons with New England. Unlike Belichick, who has won five Super Bowls and made two other appearances in the title game, Lewis is 0-7 in the playoffs, the worst coaching record in NFL history. The Bengals haven’t won a playoff game since the 1990 season, the sixth-longest streak of futility in league history. Paul Brown Stadium was half-empty for the final home game, an indication fans had given up on the team and were hoping for change. Instead, Brown decided to stay the course and keep Lewis, who wanted more say over the coaching staff and the roster if he stayed. Brown’s aversion to change won out. “Marvin has made significant contributions during his time here,” Brown said in a statement. Lewis planned to meet the media on Wednesday. He said in a statement that he was committed “to making the necessary improvements to put this team in the best position to win.” Lewis has acknowledged that he would have been fired in any other NFL city. Instead, he’s gotten second and third chances — and now a 16th chance — to lead the Bengals to a postseason win. Brown, an owner who values loyalty, has decided to keep Lewis around. It marks a stay-the-course coaching offseason for both of Ohio’s teams. The Browns are keeping coach Hue Jackson after they became only the second team in NFL history to go 0-16. On Monday, Lewis said he was interested in staying only if he and ownership had a common vision for changes that needed to happen. He said the organization needs to do a better job building a roster that can contend for an AFC North title. Lewis has by far the longest coaching tenure in team history — founder Paul Brown and Sam Wyche are tied for second at eight years — and a 125-119-3 record, including that 0-7 playoff mark. Under Lewis, the Bengals have had some of their best regular seasons and some of the worst playoff moments. The mastermind of Baltimore’s Super Bowl championship defense in 2000, Lewis came to Cincinnati before the 2003 season — a rare outside hire by the Brown family. Lewis turned the Bengals into a competitive team and then a playoff team after years of languishing as a laughingstock. He hasn’t been able to win a playoff game, though. His best chance came in 2015, when the Bengals matched the franchise record with 12 wins and were in control in the final minutes of a playoff game against rival Pittsburgh at Paul Brown Stadium. Lewis’ team unraveled, fumbling to give Pittsburgh a final chance and then committing two unthinkable penalties — Vontaze Burfict and Adam “Pacman” Jones got 15-yard fouls — that set up the Steelers’ field goal for an 18-16 win. It was one of the worst meltdowns in NFL playoff history. At yet, Lewis survived it. His team never recovered. The Bengals won only six games last season. When Lewis and Brown met afterward, they couldn’t agree on terms of an extension of his deal that ended after the 2017 season. A 23-20 Monday night loss to Pittsburgh on Dec. 4 essentially ended the Bengals’ chances. Paul Brown Stadium was less than half-full for the final home game, a 26-17 victory over the Lions on Dec. 24. In the final game at Baltimore, the Bengals rallied for a 31-27 win that eliminated the Ravens. The Bengals now have to sell tickets by convincing fans that things are changing, even if the head coach is the same......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 3rd, 2018

Superteams and superpowers: Basketball in 2017

The common theme in basketball as of late is rather simple: build yourself a superteam and see where it goes. 2017 saw a bunch of superteams take the court in all levels. Some panned out and some did not. Nevertheless, we live in a world of superteams. Either your favorite basketball team is one or it's not.   Warriors World For the 2016-2017 NBA Season, the 73-win Golden State Warriors, a superteam in their own right, added former Most Valuable Player Kevin Durant. Oh my goodness. The Dubs then proceeded to decimate the NBA, winning 67 games in the regular season. Golden State was even better in the playoffs, making a serious play for a postseason sweep before finishing with a 16-1 record and a second title in three seasons.   Seriously, it's a Warriors World that we live in Golden State's success has prompted other teams to try and create their own superteam. Houston snatched Chris Paul away from the Los Angeles Clippers and now the Rockets have a potent backcourt combo that also feature MVP contender James Harden. Oklahoma City completed two incredible trades that made Paul George and Carmelo Anthony members of the Thunder. Oh, OKC also has MVP winner Russell Westbrook running point. The Timberwolves also have something going on in Minnesota as Jimmy Butler joined Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins for a young and intriguing Big 3. The Eastern Conference landscape changed when Cleveland traded Kyrie Irving to Boston. The Celtics previously signed Gordon Hayward and all of a sudden, the winningest NBA franchise is in position to take over the East now and the forseeable future. Speaking of Cleveland, LeBron James is still with the Cavs and they've added Dwyane Wade of all people to join an aging but still scary superteam. The King started this whole superteam craze. Golden State just happened to perfect. We all live in a Warriors World.   Feer the Beer Over in the PBA, the Philippines' premier superteam is still pretty effective despite its stars each playing almost 40 minutes per game. A year removed from the "Beeracle Run," San Miguel made history by being only the second team to capture the Perpetual Trophy following three straight Philippine Cup titles. Then the Beermen, with the top-3 MVP candidates in June Mar Fajardo, Alex Cabagnot, and Chris Ross, plus Arwind Santos and Marcio Lassiter, ended the franchise's 16-year championship drought in the Commissioner's Cup. With the help of import Charles Rhodes of course. San Miguel had legitimate chances to win the Grand Slam of course, but the team ultimately fell short in the Governors' Cup. However, the Beermen did add 6'8" Fil-German Christian Standhardinger to the fold. Superteam.   Return of the Kings It was the perfect set up. Meralco earned the number 1 seed and was rolling all the way to the Finals. Meanwhile, the Gink Kings had to go through yet another emotional and heated series against rival TNT in the semifinals in order to have a chance to properly defend their title. The series before that? The Gin Kings had to end San Miguel's Grand Slam dreams. In the 2017 Governors' Cup Finals, Meralco was in perfect position to take The Rematch and allow the birth of a new PBA rivalry. After seven games, none of that happened and Ginebra won back-to-back titles by virtue of their quote unquote superteam. Greg Slaughter, Japeth Aguilar, Joe Devance, Justin Brownlee, LA Tenorio, Sol Mercado, and Scottie Thompson. How is that not a superteam? The Kangkong jokes sure died a slow death.   Systematic Mayhem Even in college hoops, superteams are the way to go. However, in the amatuers, you just have to recruit your way into building one. La Salle has perfected this method and the Green Archers are certainly the biggest --- and loudest and most aggressive ---- recruiters. The Taft superteam featuring Ben Mbala and co. got the Green Archers to two UAAP Finals and one championship. Only one championship because another superteam, quietly built in Katipunan with surgical, perhaps even robotic, precision, beat them this year. That's right, Big Bad Blue is once again on top of the UAAP as the Ateneo Blue Eagles scored a sensational, near-sweep of UAAP Season 80. Coach Tab Baldwin has a collection of incredible players that may not look like it on first glance but they do certainly qualify for superteam status. Dom't believe it? Maybe you will after they complete a five-peat. It could happen.   Sweep In the other collegiate league, two superteams dominated the NCAA for two separate periods in one season. First, Lyceum, the surprise superteam, made history by completing an 18-game sweep of the elimination round. However, the Pirates ran into the league's decade-old superteam in San Beda and the Red Lions ended up sweeping the Finals for yet another title. Most of the major characters from both squads will return for a new season and if a San Beda-Lyceum rematch does not happen, well, that's just disappointing isn't it?   OVERTIME 2017 also saw the rise and fall and rise of the Gilas Pilipinas program. Well sort of. The Philippines got off to a great star this year by absolutely dominating the SEABA Championships. Then, disaster struck in the 2017 FIBA Asia Cup when Gilas was embarassed by an old foe in South Korea. To end the year, the Philippine national team recovered, albeit in an ugly fashion, to take an early lead in the 2019 World Cup Asian Qualifiers. Gilas is more than capable of forming a Pinoy superteam that could compete, and even beat, the best of Asia. Let's hope we get that in 2018. Finally, 2017 also saw the Civil War PBA edition. It wasn't funny and it wasn't good. Fortunately, it seems that bright and peacuful days are ahead of our beloved league. Let's hope that's the case and let's just leave the bad memories behind this year. Time to move on and forget about that stuff. There are basketball games to be played.     --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 28th, 2017

5 questions ahead of the NBA s 2017 Christmas Day games

It's already December 25 in the Philippines, but that's still a few hours away in the United States, meaning we have to wait before holiday's best tradition will take place: the NBA's annual slate of Christmas Day games. This year's batch of games sees the 76ers head to MSG to play the Knicks, the Cavaliers go to the Bay to face the Warriors in an NBA Finals rematch, the Wizards tackle the Celtics in an Eastern Conference semis redux, the Rockets battle the Thunder, also a 2017 postseason rematch, and the Timberwolves face off versus the Lakers. While you're unwrapping gifts and munching on Noche Buena leftovers, here are five questions to ponder: 1. Will the injury bug play Grinch to this set of holiday games? The Golden State Warriors officially ruled out Stephen Curry from playing. The LA Lakers just announced that Lonzo Ball is sidelined. Chris Paul is a question mark, while fingers are crossed that Joel Embiid and Kristaps Porzingis will be able to go long when they face off. Injury report for tomorrow's game vs. Cleveland: Shaun Livingston (sore right knee), Kevon Looney (gluteal strain) & Zaza Pachulia (left shoulder soreness) are probable. Stephen Curry (sprained right ankle) is out. — Warriors PR (@WarriorsPR) December 25, 2017 Hurt superstars are definitely the coal in an NBA fan's stocking, but let's hope that despite the absence of some of the bigger names, the games will still be able to provide plenty of entertainment. Bonus question: We may not get Curry vs. LeBron this Christmas, but how great of a consolation gift is Durant vs. LeBron? 2. Who will be the Christmas unicorn? Kristaps Porzingis is of course, the OG unicorn, having the tag bestowed upon him by Kevin Durant. The nickname refers to the mythical convergence of height, ball-handling, skill, and three-point shooting, all of which, Porzingis possesses. He's not alone though, as the 76ers' Joel Embiid has all of that in spades too, it's just that, seeing him on court has been more rare, due to an assortment of injuries that have held him back. Imagine, I suppose, if My Little Ponies could draw DNPs. When Porzingis' Knicks and and Embiid's 76ers collide, all eyes will be on the two, as they will inevitably go head-to-head against each other. As of writing, the Knicks are in the eighth seed in the East, while a 1-9 stretch in their last 10 games has the 76ers on the outside looking in at 10th place, three back of the Knicks. Therefore, it's not just pride at stake here; the East is wide open and every game will matter, as both squads harbor postseason dreams. Bonus question: Will 76ers rookie point guard Ben Simmons wind up stealing the show? 3. Who will triumph in the Wall vs. Irving point guard duel? After some strong starts to the season, the Boston Celtics and the Washington Wizards, the two squads most picked to be potential spoilers to the Cleveland Cavaliers' march to yet another Finals, are going through some rough patches. The Celtics of course, lost Gordon Hayward and started 0-2, but eventually righted the ship through tough defense, only to finish just 5-5 in their latest stretch (though they're still #1 in the conference). Meanwhile, injuries to John Wall and some of their role players have really prevented the Wizards from taking off. They're 18-15, and occupy the seventh spot in the East right now. If someone's going to take charge for either side in this Christmas duel, it'll be each side's respective point guards. Kyrie Irving has embraced being the man for the green and white, while John Wall is an established superstar in the Chocolate City. A Christmas day win for either team could be the foundation for a lengthy run of wins if they can maintain momentum. Bonus question: Who will be the better Morris twin - Boston's Marcus or Washington's Markieff? 4. Which nu-super team will do the most damage, the Rockets or the Thunder? The two most aggressive teams this offseason in revamping their roster to take on the defending champs were without a doubt, the Houston Rockets and the Oklahoma City Thunder. H-Town added Chris Paul and a bevy of long-limbed, rangy defenders who can nail open three's, while OKC formed their version of a big three by trading for Paul George and Carmelo Anthony. The early returns have looked better for the Rox than the Thunder. Even with Paul sidelined, the team was able to shoot to the top of the West standings, and looked even better when CP3 was healthy alongside the Beard, James Harden. On the other hand, it's been an on-going adjustment for reigning MVP Russell Westbrook to integrate the two other established stars. Their defense has been on-point, but their offense is prone to long, fatal droughts. Chris Paul has been listed as doubtful for this one (among several other Houston players), so we may not get the full experience, but this Western Conference Playoffs rematch from last season should still be interesting, even if it's just in an offense versus defense kind of way. Bonus question: Better odds of happening in this game, Harden scores 50+ for a third straight game or Westbrook adds another triple-double to his season tally? 5. Can Kyle Kuzma carry the Lakers? One can make a pretty convincing argument that Kyle Kuzma should be the Rookie of the Year. Despite not being a lottery pick, Kuz has had a major impact on the court, his scoring prowess adding quite the punch to a Lakers team that needs some (okay, a lot). Originally, this question was going to involve Lonzo Ball too, but with the Lakers announcing that his shoulder will keep him out of this game and the rest of the week, this could be a rare opportunity for Kuzma to steal the LA spotlight. Doubly so if Brandon Ingram remains sidelined too. Sure, he'll likely need to contend with the Timberwolves placing super-stopper Jimmy Butler on him, but wouldn't that be a fun duel to watch? Bonus question: How bummed are you that we won't be having LaVar Ball Christmas shenanigans with Lonzo out? The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or ABS-CBN Sports......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 25th, 2017

Knicks overhaul: Mills, Perry changing franchise’s identity

By Brian Mahoney, Associated Press NEW YORK (AP) — Magic Johnson noticed. Carmelo Anthony, too. The once misguided New York Knicks seem to have a plan. The franchise that’s been good at producing chaos but not much else has the look of a professional NBA organization under president Steve Mills and general manager Scott Perry — and that’s not just on the court. Like everyone else in the league, the two men want to win. But even before that, they want the Knicks to develop the traits of a model franchise, not the model of dysfunction that they had come to be their identity. “I knew there were a lot of things that needed to change here and we’re in the process of doing that,” Mills said. So far, so good. The Knicks are 16-14 heading into their game against Boston on Thursday night (Friday, PHL time) — not bad for a team that parted ways with its team president on the eve of free agency and then traded its leading scorer on the eve of training camp. Hats off to my good friend Steve Mills. He is doing an excellent job. The future is promising for his young Knicks. — Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) December 13, 2017 “Hats off to my good friend Steve Mills. He is doing an excellent job,” Johnson wrote in a tweet after the Knicks beat the Hall of Famer’s Lakers on Dec. 12 (Dec. 13, PHL time). “The future is promising for his young Knicks.” And, it appears, much different from the past. Mills and Perry want the Knicks to be known as a team that competes hard, works hard, defends hard. They insist on players that will be accountable to the team and a team that will be accountable to its fans. The only identity the Knicks had in recent years was of a laughingstock. “People say, ‘Can you win first and then have a culture?’ Well, what is the foundation you’re building to fall back on when you talk about being sustainable?” Perry said. “So what we want to be is a sustainable team that’s good year in and year out.” Mills returned to the team president role he briefly held after Phil Jackson was ousted in late June and then hired Perry as his general manager shortly after. They went to work on fixing the Knicks’ roster and reputation, trading Anthony but earning praise by showing him respect Jackson didn’t during a tumultuous final season together. They surprised Anthony with a video tribute before his first game back at Madison Square Garden last Saturday (last Sunday, PHL time), then the Knicks showed their former star how much things have changed by routing Oklahoma City. “I like the potential that they have,” Anthony said. “For me, just to see those guys having fun again, knowing that it wasn’t fun. The fun was lost over the past couple of seasons.” Mills had a firsthand view of it while serving as Jackson’s general manager. Another 50-loss season ended with the Knicks getting a clear signal of how fed up people were when Kristaps Porzingis, the young star who was being groomed to replace Anthony as the face of the franchise, skipped his exit meeting after the season. “Everyone was frustrated. One of our players was obviously frustrated. Our fans were frustrated, we were frustrated, and so it led us to think we have to do something different and I felt strongly about it,” Mills said. “I addressed it with Phil and our coaching staff and our entire staff, that in my view we weren’t a team that really stood for anything in particular and that needed to change. “If it meant changing the triangle, it if meant changing our day-to-day stuff, we had to become more definable by something. When someone sees the Knicks, when someone’s going to play against the Knicks, what are you going to experience when you play that team?” For Perry, the hope is a team like the Pistons of the early 2000s, who won an NBA title and went to the Eastern Conference finals every season he was their director of player of personnel. One thing he’s insistent the Knicks won’t become are losers on purpose, as he and Mills rule out tanking for a high draft pick even though both have said they want to build with youth. “Ultimately our goal is to become a championship-type organization and I have just yet to see in my time in the NBA teams that embrace tanking that ultimately will be champions,” Perry said. Mills, who played at Princeton and worked for 16 years at the NBA, and Perry, who worked previously for four NBA franchises, have plenty of friends throughout the league on both the player and team side. Both can usually be found courtside on game nights talking to people, a far cry from recent seasons when Knicks management was often unseen and unheard. And in another change, Knicks management is also talking to fans, either directly or through the media. “I think sometimes we put the players in a tough situation. We clearly put Jeff in a very difficult situation last year,” Mills said, referring to coach Jeff Hornacek. “It’s not fair to him that every question about what’s going on within the organization he has to deal with.” Mills said at some point the fans need to hear from management. “We have a vision for where we want to take this team,” Mills said. “We want them to believe in it and feel good about it and see what we’re trying to get accomplished.” On and off the court......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 21st, 2017

De Bruyne inspires Man City to record-extending win vs Spurs

By Rob Harris, Associated Press MANCHESTER, England (AP) — Arms wrapped around his head, Kevin De Bruyne was writhing in agony on the turf. A stamp by Dele Alli, the Tottenham dynamo prone to hot-headed eruptions, typified the rough treatment faced by De Bruyne's Manchester City on Saturday. Tottenham just couldn't cope against the exhilarating force of a team which is steamrollering opponents and the English football records. De Bruyne's right ankle was fortunate to escape serious damage being inflicted by the thrust of Alli's boot. Alli was fortunate to avoid a red card, and De Bruyne was seething. Payback came within a couple of minutes when the ball was bulging in the Tottenham net. De Bruyne lashed a shot past goalkeeper Hugo Lloris to net City's second in a 4-1 victory over last season's runners-up. With a record 16th successive English top-flight win, City surged 14 points clear of both Manchester United, which travels to West Bromwich Albion on Sunday, and champion Chelsea. The Premier League chasing pack is slipping further into the distance. For many, like Tottenham which slipped to seventh, it is just about finishing in the four Champions League places. Arsenal reignited that challenge by beating Newcastle 1-0, rising to fourth by ending a three-game winless run. Chelsea remains five points ahead of Arsenal after also beating Southampton 1-0 courtesy of Marcos Alonso's free kick in first-half stoppage time. ___ RIVALRY UPENDED For a Tottenham side that finished above City the last two seasons, the decline appears alarming. An eight-point lead over City at the close of business in May last season has been turned into a 21-point deficit, even before this season reaches its midway point in a week. City, chasing its first Premier League title under Pep Guardiola, was gifted an opener in the 14th minute when Ilkay Gundogan was left unmarked to head in Leroy Sane's corner. Even though it took City until the final 20 minutes to extend its lead, this was a game controlled by the hosts with De Bruyne orchestrating the midfield in David Silva's absence. "You cannot imagine how good he plays in terms of the ball, but you also see how he runs," Guardiola said. "Everything is easier for the manager." After De Bruyne fired in City's second, he also won a penalty following Jan Vertonghen's sliding challenge. Gabriel Jesus hit the post and the follow-up was off target from Raheem Sterling. But Sterling still had time to find the net twice in the final 10 minutes. The first was the culmination of a counterattack started by De Bruyne. The second in the 90th owed much to Eric Dier missing the chance to block Bernardo Silva's throughball, allowing Sterling to round goalkeeper Hugo Lloris and tap into the net. Christian Eriksen scored a consolation once the game was far beyond Tottenham's reach. ___ GOAL OF THE DAY Mesut Ozil reminded Arsenal what it could be missing if he leaves at the end of the season on a free transfer. The piece of magic from the German came with a 23rd-minute volley powered into the roof of the net from just inside the penalty area, lighting up a labored performance by his north London club against a relegation-threatened Newcastle. "It's important for him that he takes the risk to do what he did," Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said. "Usually he is a guy who, 99 percent of the time in this position, he controls the ball and gives it to somebody else. "So I'm pleased he took the gamble to finish and I'm happy as well that he scored a very important goal." ___ HUGHES PRESSURE A power cut delayed Stoke's home game against West Ham, and the lights could soon be going out on Mark Hughes's tenure as manager after a 3-0 loss to the London club. Stoke slumped to a fifth loss in six games to sit one point above the relegation zone. Marko Arnautovic defied jeers on his return to Stoke to score West Ham's second goal, either side of Mark Noble's penalty and Diafra Sakho's strike. ___ BENTEKE DROUGHT ENDS Christian Benteke ended a 13-game run without a goal for Crystal Palace, stretching into last season, in a 3-0 victory at Leicester. Benteke also set up Wilfried Zaha for Palace's second. Leicester was reduced to 10 men when Wilfried Ndidi was shown a second yellow card for a dive on his 21st birthday. Bakary Sako added a third for Palace, which is enjoying a seven-match unbeaten run that has lifted Roy Hodgson's side two points clear of the drop zone. ___ HUDDERSFIELD ON RISE Huddersfield climbed to 11th in the 20-team standings after winning 4-1 at Watford. Elias Kachunga scored the northern club's first away goal since the opening day of its first top-flight campaign in 45 years. Aaron Mooy doubled Huddersfield's lead midway through the second half. After Watford striker Troy Deeney was sent off for a dangerous tackle, Laurent Depoitre extended the visitors' lead at the start of the second half. It was 10 vs. 10 for the final half-hour after Jonathan Hogg received a second booking. Although Abdoulaye Doucoure pulled one back, Mooy was on target again from the penalty spot in the 89th. ___ MISSED CHANCE Burnley would have gone fourth with a win at Brighton but was held to a 0-0 draw. Brighton striker Glenn Murray missed a penalty......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 17th, 2017

Old School Power Rankings 2017-18: Weeks 7 and 8

By Scott Wraight, NBA.com Less negativity, a wiser perspective, fewer headaches and inclusion in the OSPR club. Those are just a few benefits of getting older. On Dec. 8, the club added an eight-time All-Star who has been putting up stellar numbers in the Queen City -- arguably his best stats since the 2013-14 season. Meanwhile, the King maintains a firm grip over his kingdom while a hoodie in OKC continues a free fall. Notes: - Season statistics are through games of Nov. 2 (Nov. 3, PHL time) - Any player who turns 32 during the regular season can be added to the rankings. 1. LeBron James (32), Cleveland Cavaliers Previous rank: 1 Last weeks' stats: 7 games, 28.3 ppg, 8.9 rpg, 11.0 apg Season stats: 28.1 ppg, 8.3 rpg, 9.1 apg Another two-week stint, another three games with 30 or more points. Wait. We said that last time. Well, it rings true yet again. In fact, James' lowest scoring output was 23 points. He also ripped off three straight games of 12 or more assists, including tying a career high with 17 in Tuesday's (Wednesday, PHL time) victory over the Hawks. There's no slowing the King. 2. LaMarcus Aldridge (32), San Antonio Spurs Previous rank: 2 Last weeks' stats: 6 games, 21.2 ppg, 8.7 rpg, 1.7 apg Season stats: 22.7 ppg, 8.3 rpg, 2.1 apg Aldridge has gone for 20 or more points in three consecutive games and six of his last eight. In fact, his 22.7 points this season is his highest mark since 2014-15 when he averaged 23.4 with the Trail Blazers. It will be interesting to see the effect Kawhi Leonard's return will have on Aldridge's offensive stats. 3. Marc Gasol (32), Memphis Grizzlies Previous rank: 3 Last weeks' stats: 8 games, 19.6 ppg, 7.9 rpg, 3.5 apg Season stats: 18.9 ppg, 8.6 rpg, 4.0 apg It was a consistent and yet unspectacular (for the most part) two-week stint for Gasol, who went for 15 or more points in all eight games but only broke 25 in one game (27 last Saturday against the Cavaliers). We've also taken notice of the slip in shooting, eclipsing 50 percent from the field in just one of his last 14 games. 4. Chris Paul (32), Houston Rockets Previous rank: 6 Last weeks' stats: 5 games, 23.2 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 8.6 apg Season stats: 16.2 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 9.6 apg Paul has found his groove, shooting 51.9 from the field, 44.1 from beyond the arc, 2.4 steals and 20 or more points in three straight. He's also managed to go over 10 assists in five of the last nine -- a big reason the Rockets have won a season-high 11 straight. On top of that, Paul is hitting three-pointers at a career-best 41.8.   5. Dwight Howard (32), Charlotte Hornets Previous rank: NA Last weeks' stats: 4 games, 23.8 ppg, 14.3 rpg, 1.0 apg Season stats: 16.4 ppg, 12.4 rpg, 1.2 apg Welcome to the club, big fella. Since Howard turned 32 on Dec. 8, he only has four games under his belt. But those four were certainly good enough for inclusion, going for 20 or more points and at least two blocks in all four. Also, in two of those games, Howard grabbed 18 or more rebounds while shooting better than 60 percent. 6. Zach Randolph (36), Sacramento Kings Previous rank: 8 Last weeks' stats: 7 games, 21.6 ppg, 10.0 rpg, 2.9 apg Season stats: 15.2 ppg, 7.0 rpg, 2.2 apg It was a blast from the past last Friday (last Saturday, PHL time), as Randolph turned in one of his typical Z-Bo type games from years ago (35 points and 13 rebounds). Randolph, who has shot better than 50 percent in seven of the last eight games, is shooting 51.2 -- his highest mark since '02-03 (51.3). And with 21 3s, he's on pace to shatter his career high of 25. 7. J.J. Redick (33), Philadelphia 76ers Previous rank: 10 Last weeks' stats: 6 games, 21.8 ppg, 1.8 rpg, 3.2 apg Season stats: 17.0 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 3.5 apg Redick, who will most likely be a bit of a roller-coaster ride all season, is in the midst of his best scoring spree, notching at least 15 points in seven straight while going for 25 or more in three of those games. He's also hit three or more three-pointers in three straight and five of the last seven. This is probably as close as he'll be to being locked in. 8. Taj Gibson (32), Minnesota Timberwolves Previous rank: 5 Last weeks' stats: 7 games, 12.0 ppg, 8.4 rpg, 1.4 apg Season stats: 11.1 ppg, 8.3 rpg, 1.5 apg Uh oh. Did we jinx Gibson by touting him so much? After stringing together three straight double-doubles, he's managed just two in the last seven games. As has been the case all season, Gibson plays better win the Timberwolves win. In four wins, he averaged 13.5 points, 9.5 rebounds and 58.8 FG%. In three losses, Gibson averaged 10 points, seven rebounds and 38.5 FG%.   9. Carmelo Anthony (33), Oklahoma City Thunder Previous rank: 4 Last weeks' stats: 7 games, 12.4 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 1.4 apg Season stats: 17.7 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 1.5 apg It's like the popular Paul Simon song goes: "Slip Slidin' Away." That's what's happening with Anthony, who can't seem to snap out of his season-long slump, shooting 34.3 FG%, 24.1 3PT% and 55.6 FT% over the last two weeks. Yes, he did score 21 last Saturday against Memphis, but it took him 20 shots (7-for-20) to get there.   10. Courtney Lee (32), New York Knicks Previous rank: 7 Last weeks' stats: 7 games, 15.1 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 2.1 apg Season stats: 13.2 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 2.8 apg Three good, three bad and one mediocre. That's how we summarize Lee's last seven games. In fact, if not for Thursday's 27-point performance, Lee may have been bumped off the list. After securing nine straight games of 50 percent or better from the field, Lee has bettered that threshold just once in the last four games. Just missed the cut: J.J. Barea, Marcin Gortat, Dirk Nowitzki, Dwyane Wade Will turn 32 this season: Gerald Green (Jan. 26), Rajon Rondo (Feb. 22), Corey Brewer (March 5), Kyle Lowry (March 25), Marco Belinelli (March 25). The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 16th, 2017

How will the Spurs meld Aldridge, Leonard?

By Shaun Powell, NBA.com A top-three team in the Western Conference is ready to get its best player back from injury. He's someone who, last season, made first-team All-NBA, had a seat at the MVP roundtable and nearly chopped down the champion Golden State Warriors in a playoff game (before being chopped down himself). And this will be good for the San Antonio Spurs, most would agree. What’s less certain is what Kawhi Leonard’s return from an achy quadricep means for LaMarcus Aldridge, who looks comfortable playing the lead right now without his co-star, yet squirmed to find peace when he had to ride shotgun. The Spurs star could make his season debut on Tuesday (Wednesday, PHL time) against the Mavericks. The Spurs’ season rides on a happy balance between the two and a way to once again lurk as the team that gives the Warriors a severe case of the creeps, more than any other in the West. Despite all the fuss made over Chris Paul joining James Harden in Houston, and the star-infused Thunder in Oklahoma City, it’s the same-old Spurs who spooked Golden State in Game 1 before losing the Western Conference finals. They were also the last non-Warriors team to reach the NBA Finals. And look who’s sitting a bounce pass from the top of the West, despite missing Kawhi all season? That opening playoff game last May against Golden State was a flash point for San Antonio. The series of events that followed managed to put Leonard in a bad place physically, saw Aldridge melt epically the rest of that series and generate trade talk in the off-season, forced a major sit-down/showdown between coach Gregg Popovich and Aldridge and then, out of seemingly nowhere and somewhat surprisingly, a peaceful resolution was reached and wins followed. “As you can see, based on the evidence,” said Aldridge the other day, “everything’s good.” Yes, it appears so. With Kawhi out of the lineup, the Spurs are doing what they usually do, using disciplined basketball to stamp themselves as a contender. Some nights, Aldridge has been a force, ripping double-doubles and looming large in close games. The ball is finding him in a greedy groove; Aldridge is taking almost 17 1/2 shots a game and the Spurs’ No. 2 shooter, Rudy Gay, is getting nine. As a result, his scoring average is up from a year ago, from 17.3 points per game to 22.6 ppg, matching his best production during his peak with the Portland Trail Blazers. Now in his third season with the Spurs, Aldridge has never felt this frisky and once again is leaning on his money maker: the floating 18-foot jumper. Most important, the Spurs are winning because of him, and Popovich is gloating over him. “Are you kidding?” Popovich said. “We’d be in the toilet if it wasn’t for L.A. He’s been a complete basketball player at both ends of the floor, great rebounding, defensively, running the floor, scoring. What’s really been great is his leadership. And him bringing it every night.” It’s a short sample size after 25 games, but Popovich and the Spurs are cautiously encouraged by this. The Spurs veered from their usual draft-and-develop ways when they signed Aldridge to a big free-agent contract three summers ago. Because of that, Aldridge was considered an outsider, someone who wasn’t a true Spur, but who was needed by a team that craved proven talent to remain a contender in the post-Tim Duncan era. But it’s been a learning process for Aldridge, Popovich and the Spurs. He came from the Blazers anxious to break free of a team that began to orbit around Damian Lillard, but wouldn’t you know it, Leonard turned into a superstar almost overnight after Aldridge arrived. The timing was good for the Spurs ... and awkward for Aldridge, who was forced to adjust his game with prodding from Popovich. Aldridge bit his tongue last season when he averaged his lowest point total since his rookie season. When Leonard suffered his ankle sprain against the Warriors, Aldridge suddenly had the burden of carrying the load, and he failed spectacularly for the rest of that series. He averaged just 11.3 points in the final three games and became low hanging fruit for critics. Popovich was asked the other day if Aldridge had to atone for that this season and the coach came to his player’s defense. “I don’t know if the word ‘atone’ is accurate,” Popovich said. “If your leading scorer and also your point guard (Tony Parker, who was also out against the Warriors) isn’t there, then it falls on someone else. If you take away the two top players from any playoff team, it’s probably going to be tough to move on. I don’t think he has anything to atone for.” Still, something wasn’t right; anyone could see that. Aldridge requested a summertime meeting with Popovich and came with demands. On the surface, that might seem a risky strategy, given the coach’s credentials vs. someone without a single title, and Aldridge knew he was walking on eggshells. “I didn’t know how it would go because he’s Gregg Popovich. I didn’t know how he’d take me saying things. I didn’t know what to expect, with me coming at a person a different way but I was very honest and I think he could tell this was maybe different from what he was used to. But I was not disrespectful. I was trying to express how I was feeling and he was very receptive to it. We kept talking and things got better. I was pleasantly surprised.” For anyone who thought one of the game’s greatest coaches didn’t have a humble side, guess again. Popovich said: “We broke bread a few times, talked about it, laughed about it, discussed what we thought needed to happen, and frankly 95 percent of it fell on me because I made an error in trying to change him too much. That might sound odd, but he’d been in the league nine years and there’s one way he plays on the offensive end and feels comfortable with. I tried to turn him into Jack Sikma, told him I was going to teach you how to play on the elbow, go on the wing, face up. It was confusing for him. It really didn’t fit his style of play. I was guilty of over coaching in a sense. “We came to an agreement on what had to happen. Well, on defense, I told him ‘I’m going to get on you like I do everyone else. But on offense, I don’t even want to talk to you. When they double you, kick it. Other than that, you be LaMarcus Aldridge.’ You see the result right now. He’s happy, confident and kicking everybody’s butt.” Every star player’s ego needs a degree of pampering, and Popovich did admit that dealing with Aldridge was different than any player he’s ever had, yet says there’s a reason for that. “When guys like Kawhi and Tony Parker and others came to me, they were young kids. When a guy’s been in a league nine years and is used to doing something and I try to take it away, that’s not right. That wasn’t very wise on my part.” Popovich didn’t pull rank in the meeting with Aldridge and if anything, he put his ego in check, something you see from coaches who haven’t accomplished one-fourth of what he’s done. But Pop has never strayed from the first rule in coaching players, especially the good ones: Keep them happy by any means necessary. “You gotta look at things and make it better as a coach,” he said. “It’s your responsibility. This was mostly me.” Here’s Aldridge this season so far: Back-to-back 33- and-41-point games a few weeks ago, sharper court awareness, better rebounding and passing than a year ago. Aldridge: “I was frustrated. I just wanted to help more and I think he understood that. Now I feel as confident as I was in Portland. I’m definitely being myself and playing my game and not overthinking and not worried about what’s going to happen if I don’t play well. I’m not a face-up guy. I like to have my back to the basket more. Pop’s given me the freedom to be myself again and that has shown itself on the court.” The issue, both say, wasn’t necessary the number of shots, though that was certainly one of the issues. It also was about the spot on the floor, when those shots needed to be taken. Aldridge said he has no problem with Leonard as the core -- he called Kawhi “our main guy” -- but wanted the same amount of comforts within the system. “He’s a go-to guy also,” said Aldridge. “The plan is to have him be the guy he is, and I be who I am now.” And there’s the key word: now. Leonard was bothered by the quad all last season and it didn’t respond quickly to offseason treatment. But now he’s nearly 100 percent and hopes a quick return to the level of last season when he jacked his scoring and finished third in the MVP voting, one spot ahead of LeBron James. Count Parker among the teammates who’ve said the obvious about Aldridge and how the power forward, in Leonard’s absence, has looked All-Star quality. “Everything’s going through him right now and he’s doing a better job knowing when to score and when to pass,” Parker said, “along with reading double teams and playing good defense.” But then Parker, the most senior Spur after Manu Ginobili, stressed that everyone, including Aldridge, must sacrifice for Leonard and not vice-versa, for the sake of the system and ultimately, wins. “When you play for the Spurs you don’t get a lot of big stats,” Parker said. “Now that Kawhi is out, he obviously has the ball more and he’s going to shoot more shots.” Then he added the kicker: “When Kawhi comes back we will share” -- Parker said while smiling -- “like we always do here.” Veteran NBA writer Shaun Powell has worked for newspapers and other publications for more than 25 years. You can e-mail him here or 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 NewsDec 9th, 2017

Magsayo retains WBO Int l Featherweight title

TAGBILARAN CITY, Bohol --- A world title fight could be in the horizon for undefeated Mark 'Magnifico' Magsayo. The hometown hero did not disappoint in his homecoming in this beautiful province in the Visayas as he successfully defended his WBO International Featherweight belt against Japanese challenger Shota Hayashi in a unanimous decision win Saturday in the sold out Bohol Wisdom Gymnasium here. Magsayo got an identical 116-112 scores from the three judges to wrap up the successful staging of Pinoy Pride 43 'The Battle in Bohol'. "Nahirapan din ako kasi di ko talaga in-expect ang tibay niya saka malakas talaga," said Magsayo, who battled a very game and tough Japanese veteran. "Matibay siya sa bodega saka sa mukha kaya medyo nahirapan ako."  The 22-year old Magsayo spoiled the birthday wish of Hayashi, who turned 30 Friday, with his 18th straight win in his return to this province famous for its majestic Chocolate Hills since his seventh win back in 2014. With an impressive 18-0 (13 KOs) record and a good performance in his fight, Magsayo could be heading into a world title bout against WBO Featherweight champ Oscar Valdez or a eliminator on March 2018. Hayashi dropped to 30-7-1 win-loss-draw record. Meanwhile, 'Prince' Albert Pagara knocked out Mohammed Kambuluta of Tanzania with 2:26 in the second round. Pagara floored Kambuluta early in the second round before finishing off the Tanzanian with a right straight for his 20th KO win in 28 victories against a lone loss. Kambuluta dropped to 17-4 win-loss card. Jeo 'Santino' Santisima pummeled Indonesian Ki Chang Kim to submission just 36 seconds into the opening round to score a magnificent knockout win in their junior featherweight bout. Santisima caught Kim with two body shots that dropped the Indonesian, who never recovered from the Pinoy's devastating body blows. Santisima improved his record to 15 wins, 14 from KOs, with two losses. Kim absorbed his fifth loss against eight wins and a draw. In other undercard results, Christian Bacolod opened the night with a sensational second round TKO win over Ryan Makiputin. Bacolod floored Makiputin twice in the second round before finishing off the fight with a barrage of combinations as the referee stepped in to stop the fight, 2:50 in the round. Roli Gasca made quick work of Boholano Jason Tinampay, knocking out the home crowd bet with a thunderous right uppercut to the jaw with 1:15 in the opening round.  Rocky Fuentes edged Ryan Tampus via unanimous decision (59-55, 60-54, 59-55) while Esneth Domingo dominated the score cards, 39-36, 40-36, 40-35, for a UD win over Lowell Saguisa. Melvin Jerusalem outpointed Jestoni Racoma in a unanimous decision win, 80-72, 80-72, 78-74. Another local bet in Virgel Vitor went home  victorious after getting the identical 97-93 scores from the judges against John Ray Logatiman in their Junior Featherweight bout.   Complete Pinoy Pride 43 Results Mark 'Magnifico' Magsayo def. Shota Hayashi via UD (116-112, 116-112, 116-112) 'Prince' Albert Pagara def. Mohammed Kambuluta via KO, 2:26 in the second round Jeo 'Santino' Santisima def. Ki Chang Kim via KO, 2:24 in the first round Virgel Vitor def. John Ray Logatiman via UD (97-93, 97-93, 97-93) Melvin Jerusalem def. Jestoni Racoma via UD (80-72, 80-72, 78-74) Esneth Domingo def. Lowell Saguisa via UD (39-36, 40-36, 40-35) Roli Gasca def. Jason Tinampay via knockout, 1:15 in the first round Rocky Fuentes def. Ryan Tampus via UD (59-55, 60-54, 59-55) Christian Bacolod def. Ryan Makiputin via TKO, 2:50 in the second round --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 25th, 2017

Magsayo makes weight, ready for title defense

TAGBILARAN CITY --- Hometown hero Mark ‘Magnifico’ Magsayo easily made the weight in the weigh-ins a day before his WBO International Featherweight title defense against Japanese challenger Shota Hayashi on Saturday in “Pinoy Pride 43: Battle in Bohol”. Magsayo tipped the scale at exactly 126 lbs. and promised to put on a good show in front of his fellow Boholanos at the Bohol Wisdom Gymnasium here against the former Japanese champion looking to silence the home crowd. The proud son of Bohol puts his pristine 17-0 win-loss record, with an impressive 13 knockouts, on the line in the 12-round main match of this exciting 9-card boxing fest, set to start at 6:00 p.m. and will air live via SKY Sports pay-per-view. Magsayo, ranked world no. 2 in the division, is looking forward to big a win that will serve as a ticket to achieve his dream to land a world title fight against WBO Featherweight champ Oscar Valdez of Mexico. But Hayashi wants to write a different script. The Japanese veteran, who holds a 30-win, 6-loss and 1-draw record with 18 victories coming off KOs, came in at 125 lbs. Meanwhile, Pinoy bet Albert Pagara, who parades 28 wins (18 KOs) and a loss, tipped in at 124 lbs., a pound lighter than Tanzanian opponent Mohammed Kambuluta (17-3, 6KOs) in their non-title superbantamweight fight. Jeo 'Santino' Santisima weighed exactly 123 lbs. three pounds heavier than Indonesian opponent Ki Chang Kim.    The fight will be telecast on ABS-CBN at 3:30 p.m. with a primetime airing on S+A and S+A HD at 6:30 p.m.         Full weigh-in results:   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 24th, 2017

Pinoy mixed martial artist wins world championship in Bahrain

Another Filipino was named world champion over the weekend, as Team Lakay's Stephen 'The Sniper' Loman won the inaugural Brave Combat Federation bantamweight world title Friday evening in Bahrain.  Loman made a name for himself in the Guam-based PXC promotion, even earning a world title shot back in March, but the fight was scrapped because of his opponent's weight cut issues.  After a long layoff, Loman returned to action at Brave 9, Friday, and stopped Canadian Gary Mangat via TKO in the first round.  The 22-year old Loman joins the likes of former ONE Championship title holders Eduard Folayang and Honorio Banario as world champions to come out of the famed Team Lakay gym in Baguio City.  Things didn't go as well for another Team Lakay up-and-comer, Jeremy Pacatiw, who lost to Jalal Al Daaja via TKO earlier that night......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 18th, 2017

The Pistons are 10-3, and might be the surprise of the NBA

By Tim Reynolds, Associated Press The Detroit Pistons are heading on the road for a few days, so maybe someone will see them play. They’ve certainly been worth watching. Detroit’s 10-3 start, good for No. 2 in the Eastern Conference standings, is one of the biggest good surprises in the NBA through the season’s first month. The Pistons already have a road win at Golden State, swept a five-game homestand — possibly to the delight of all those unoccupied red seats at Little Caesars Arena, more on that in a moment — and are off to their best start in 12 years. “I know that we’re playing as a team right now,” Detroit’s Luke Kennard said. “We’re really locked in. We’re really playing together and we play hard. When you have a team that does that together, you win.” Now comes the test. Starting Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time), the Pistons play five of their next six games on the road — visiting Milwaukee, Indiana and Minnesota before returning home to face Cleveland, then heading right back out for a trip to Oklahoma City and Boston. After topping Miami to finish off a 5-0 homestand Sunday (Monday, PHL time), Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy made no effort to hide how pleased he is right now. “We did a great job here, and now you just move on to the next challenge,” Van Gundy said. “Now 9-of-11 on the road, the next three games on the road against teams you beat at home so you know they want back at you. The challenges just keep mounting, but you put wins in the bank.” Maybe at some point, there will be fans in the seats. The brand-new Detroit arena has a listed capacity for basketball at 20,491, which was the announced crowd for opening night. In seven games since, the Pistons have announced crowds between 13,709 and 17,683 — and those numbers may be generous, given how empty the building looks on television. Officially, Detroit sold 76 percent of its tickets in those seven games. ___ GIANNIS WATCH Technically, no foreign player has ever won an NBA scoring title. Dominique Wilkins has one and he was born in Paris, but only because his father was in the U.S. Air Force. Giannis Antetokounmpo may change that in a few months. And if not this season, then probably soon enough. The Milwaukee star who hails from Greece went into this week averaging just over 31 points per game and leading the league in that department. He was the Most Improved Player last season and don’t be surprised if he gets more votes for that trophy this season — along with MVP ballots as well. “He plays now to destroy you,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich told reporters last week before Antetokounmpo scored 28 in Milwaukee’s road win over San Antonio. “In the beginning he was pretty darn good and he would do this and he would do that. But now he knows he can do it to you every time. He’s for real.” Antetokounmpo turns 23 on Dec. 6. The only other players in the last 50 years with 5,000 points, 2,000 rebounds and 1,000 assists before celebrating their 23rd birthdays — Hall of Famer Tracy McGrady, and future Hall of Famer LeBron James. ___ ANNIVERSARIES A couple of significant milestone dates are nearing. Sunday (Monday, PHL time) marks the 13th anniversary since the so-called “Malice at The Palace,” the infamous brawl involving Indiana and Detroit after Metta World Peace (then Ron Artest) went into the stands after a fan hit him with a drink. The aftermath included nine players being suspended, and security in NBA arenas has been different ever since. And Tuesday (Wednesday, PHL time) is the 16th anniversary of the first call-up from what is now called the NBA G League — the Denver Nuggets brought eventual NBA champion Chris Andersen up from the Fayetteville Patriots, a move that paved the way for hundreds of players to truly view the development league as a springboard to the NBA. ___ THE WEEK AHEAD Some games to keep an eye on over the coming days: — Philadelphia at L.A. Lakers, Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time): Ben Simmons and Lonzo Ball, a matchup of future NBA assist leaders. — Golden State at Boston, Thursday (Friday, PHL time): An NBA Finals preview? The road team has won five straight in this series. — Oklahoma City at San Antonio, Friday (Saturday, PHL time): Russell Westbrook has triple-doubles in his last two games vs. the Spurs. — Houston at Memphis, Saturday (Sunday, PHL time): The Rockets’ wide-open offense goes up against the Grizzlies’ airtight defense. — Washington at Toronto, Sunday: John Wall vs. Kyle Lowry might get overlooked on an NFL Sunday, but shouldn’t. ___ STAT LINE OF THE WEEK Paul George, Oklahoma City: His 37-point, eight-rebound, five-assist game against Dallas on Sunday (Monday, PHL time) wasn’t even his best game of the week (he had 42, 9 and 7 two nights earlier against the Clippers). But the Sunday (Monday, PHL time) game gets the nod since it came on Russell Westbrook’s birthday and when asked what he got his teammate, George said “I got him 37.”.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 15th, 2017