Monthly Archives: January 2018

LA has always been there for Paul.

I got him with the okey-dokey, cut up and scored about 40 yards, Hurts recalled. I’m going to work just like that. I’ve been rolling ever since.

Back during his Indiana days, Brian Shaw and George would spend hours together talking about Bryant’s work ethic and how he led Los Angeles to five NBA titles.

And now that he gets his first true look at free agency in the summer of 2018, he can’t stop flirting with Los Angeles.

OKC went into LA and beat the Lakers on Wednesday by 37 points. In terms of a team trying to win a championship, the Lakers looked as far from it as possible against the Thunder, but that didn’t seem to bother George all that much.

You cant make expectations, or really I can’t have any. One of their best players was out tonight. Lonzo is really the engine. The way they came out and played I suspect that’s they way they’re used to with Lonzo at the point. Just playing fast and high paced, high energy. But it’s what you expect in a young team. They’re gonna have their bruises, gonna have their wounds. The best thing is they have young guys that are potentially gonna be big names in this league. They just gotta continue to keep working and fine tuning themselves. Ya know, they’ve got good young talent.

Three teams have had the same player start at point guard in every game this season: Westbrook with the Thunder, Kyle Lowry with the Raptors and Jamal Murray with the Nuggets. The next step for Murray is to become more of a playmaker at the position. He’s averaging 2.7 assists per game, the fewest among all point guards to make at least 10 starts this season. — Vincent Johnson

Indeed, Jordan was named first-team Associated Press All-Pro for the first time in his career this season — his seventh since being New Orleans’ first of two first-round draft choices in 2011 out of California. The 6-foot-4, 287-pound edge rusher had 13 sacks, 17 tackles for losses, 28 QB hits, 11 passes defended (mostly batted passes), an interception and two forced fumbles.

Teammates marvel at his conditioning, boundless energy and how he hardly ever misses a defensive snap.

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Oakland finally strings together a long drive but it ends with no points.

We’re back for the second half in Oakland. Cordarrelle Patterson returns the kickoff 100 yards to the end zone but the play is negated by a holding penalty. The Raiders will instead start their drive at their 10.

We’ve got a great group of guys here, he said, and I think we’re all excited to be extending our season.

With offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur deftly adapting the team’s scheme to use Keenum’s mobility to better advantage and a sleeker offensive line mostly protecting him well, the Vikings have leaped up the league rankings in every significant statistical category. Among them: 28th to ninth in scoring touchdowns on possessions after passing the 20-yard line, and 19th to third in third-down conversions.

Keenum will start his first playoff game Sunday against New Orleans, with a raucous home crowd at U.S. Bank Stadium ready to cheer the next step toward the franchise’s elusive first championship.

Our fans are awesome, Keenum said. All my friends and family who have come up from Texas and my friends from other teams that come in, they’ll text me after the games and they’ll be like, ‘Dude, that place is ridiculous.’ It really is.

Second, and more than somewhat related: The injury Sidney Crosby suffered in a collision with Dave Steckel of the Capitals, which contributed to his missing most of 2011 with concussion-like symptoms.

OK, the event will also be remembered as the most memorable game of Eric Fehr’s career, scoring the Capitals’ second and third goals. But that’s not good enough to elevate it in our rankings.

Their emergence this season has given the Celtics a jolt of energy and athleticism that’s atypical of the Celtics we’ve grown to know over the years. They are all X-factors of a sort because no one really knows what they’re going to be able to do come playoff time. We know they will play hard, but will they be able to execute and perform when gameplans are fully implemented and the pressure is ratcheted up to postseason levels?

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The naysayers calling out the Cowboys for dragging out the Ezekiel Elliott appeals and delaying his suspension were premature.

Here the Cowboys are now, on a three-game win streak and with Elliott back. Dak Prescott is no longer an anchor around the offense’s neck. Dez Bryant keeps popping up and resembling his old self. The Seahawks, meanwhile, have been a shadow of their old selves the last two weeks. If they’re going to find themselves, this is their last real chance.

NBA head coaches are hired, fired, and generally judged based on their ability to win basketball games, but the public facing nature of their job makes it useful to have a sense of humor, too. Some great coaches range from awkward to uninteresting while in front of a camera, but there are notable exceptions everywhere.

And Luke Walton, by my book, is one of the funniest people in the league right now.

You might have heard the Ball drama that happened over the weekend, where LaVar Ball criticized Walton for supposedly losing control of the team. It led to harsh rebukes from Rick Carlisle, Mavericks head coach and president of the NBA’s head coaching association, while Walton and Lonzo Ball both demurred there were any issues.

Tirico: The season after the hit, Clowney was under a different microscope and seemingly trying to preserve his draft standing. It is hard for a college player to be labeled as the No. 1 player in the next draft for an entire season and receive the full attention of everyone on the opposing offense, let alone observers around the nation. No matter what Clowney did, we were expecting the Outback Bowl hit on every play. It was unfair to him.

Savage: I think the downfall anytime you’re tied to a singular play is that it’s such a spectacular moment that it’s hard to live up to that on a down-to-down basis.

Spurrier: Seems like all over the country, all over the world, people watched that video.

Holloman: I’m sure he goes back to watch that play. I still like to go back and watch my highlights. If I had one like that, I’d probably have it replaying in my house all the time.

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Go back 30 years. That’s the last time both the Bengals and the Browns truly knew what the hell they were doing.

Both teams had winning records in 1988, part of a four-year stretch in which either the Browns or Bengals played in the AFC championship game. It’s true. All of it.

They knew what the hell they were doing because they knew who they were. That started with head coaches Marty Schottenheimer and Sam Wyche, old-school hard-asses who embodied the identity of those Rust Belt AFC outposts, especially when December rolled around.

That’s not to say it’s inevitable that Wiggins will follow the same path. But the similarities are obvious. The Wolves, having Karl-Anthony Towns and Jimmy Butler, are no longer as reliant on Wiggins. That could be a good thing in the end for his development—perhaps his defensive progress will meld with finding himself offensively and he’ll be the star or near-star we would all love to see him become. But it’s also true that he might continue to be marginalized on a team with better players than he is, and that max contract will not look good in the ensuing years.

I’ve always been something of a skeptic about his likely stardom. But the entire story of Andrew Wiggins has not been written, and could still go in any number of directions. As more than one person likes to point out, he’s yet to turn 23.

Falcons will need the running game to win the NFC South — Usually it’s Jones who acts as a one-man wrecking crew against the Bucs, but it was Freeman who did most of the damage on Monday. Freeman ran over and around Bucs defenders, including a bruising 22-yard run in the second quarter.

Even Ryan got into the act against the decimated Bucs, with 29 yards on three rushes, as the Falcons ran for a season-high 201 yards on Monday. The Falcons will need that type of balance to knock off the Saints (10-4) and Panthers (10-4) over the next two weeks.

There are, however, points that are more problematic that others. The start of a season, or right before it begins, would be a great example of that. Memphis had two players, guys who over $18 million combined is tied up in, that this happened for- JaMychal Green (ankle injury in the first game), and Ben McLemore (foot injury month or so before training camp). Their seasons are reflective of their time lost…kind of

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How big of a motivating factor is getting the top seed in the AFC

Gronkowski: He’s a great player and a great player to have on the team. I’m not sure, that’s up to our defensive coordinator to scheme up. I’m on the offensive side of the ball, so I’m just worried about what’s going on on the offense and what I can do to help out.

Gronkowski: It’s a big game. To get that, we have to put a lot of work in. So we know it’s going to be a good game come Sunday, we have to put the work in, we have to keep preparing hard, and we have to be ready.

After UCF’s win over Auburn, outgoing coach Scott Frost said his team deserved a shot at the top four and said it took a conscious effort from the 13-member selection committee to keep the undefeated Knights out of its final top 10, which was released on Dec. 3.

It wasn’t right, said Frost, who is leaving UCF to be the coach at Nebraska, his alma mater. I was watching [the selection show] every week, the committee sitting in a room and deciding that this two-loss team must be better than UCF because UCF is in the American, or this three-loss team must be better than UCF.

It looked like a conscious effort to me to make sure that they didn’t have a problem if they put us too high and a couple teams ahead of us lost. And oh no, now we have to put them in a playoff? But we just beat [Auburn], that beat two playoff teams and lost to another one by six points, and we beat them by seven.

The Ravens clinch one of the AFC’s wild cards with a win or a tie against Cincinnati. They’re also in the playoffs if either Bills (at Miami) or Titans (vs. Jacksonville) lose or tie. The Chargers’ game (vs. Oakland), too, has a domino effect in the AFC, and since that game is on the West Coast, it has to be played in the later window. The NFL wants games like this played at the same time and that makes perfect sense.

Harbaugh, though, is concerned the new game time may result in less fans showing up at M&T Bank Stadium, largely because it may conflict with their plans to ring in the New Year.

And Gruden still has an affinity for coaching. As successful as he has been as an ESPN analyst, providing color commentary for Monday Night Football and helping create Gruden’s QB Camp annual specials, many around the league believed it was only a matter of time before he returned to coaching. More and more, it looks as if this is it.

Gruden recently has been calling assistant coaches around the league, trying to piece together a staff, though he has made calls in other years and never acted upon any of the opportunities that have come his way.

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This isn’t the first time Blackson has spoken out about their family issues.

Last week, he told NJ Advance Media that some of Apple’s spirals have been as a result of an abrupt falling out between his mother and stepfather, Tim Apple, leading to a divorce.

One of the biggest reasons Eli is declining so much this year as opposed to last year is (Tim’s absence), Blackson said. I know everyone always talks about the fame and all of the attention and how all of that can go to your head.

But you have to imagine that from middle school to the NFL, Tim was there. Tim made this whole thing happen. Tim didn’t miss a game. Whenever Eli looked for that support, that was always there. Now, this year whenever he goes to look for support, it’s not real, it’s not genuine.

Memphis lost here 97-84 on Dec. 20, then watched the Warriors match their season high for points in a half this season by leading 78-67 at the break to the delight of the fired-up crowd.

The energy was amazing tonight honestly, probably it was because of Steph, Pachulia said. Tonight was a total difference, so I guess they were waiting for Steph to come back.

I got up at 5 this morning and was excited to get here, Arians said. That hasn’t changed.

Let others run up the points. He’ll take a defensive slugfest every time.

Especially when it gives Alabama another shot at a national title.

In a game where every yard was a struggle, the Crimson Tide defenders took matters into their own hands. They accounted for a pair of touchdowns just 13 seconds apart in the third quarter to turn an offensive slog into a 24-6 rout of defending national champion Clemson in the Sugar Bowl semifinal game Monday night.

This game was about our identity as a team, Saban said. I don’t think anybody would doubt our relentless attitude out there. We had a warrior-like mentality.

He was clearly pleased.

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