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Jazz’s rout of Thunder proves chippy to bitter end

With the Oklahoma City Thunder in full desperation mode, the first six minutes of Game 4 were downright heated, and even in an eventual blowout, it didn’t slow down much from there.

The Utah Jazz handled business 113-96 to take a 3-1 series lead behind 33 points from Donovan Mitchell, but there was plenty of extracurricular activity as a total of seven technical fouls were called, and one almost inevitable ejection. The tone was set on Saturday after Game 3 when Russell Westbrook guaranteed he was going to shut down Ricky Rubio.

Both teams strained to make sure not to say anything notable about the physicality, doing their best to avoid any bulletin-board material heading into Game 5.

“His bend, the way he wastes no movement coming off the ball,” Chubb said, “that’s something I tried to implement this past year and I feel like I did, and I’m ready to keep learning from him.”

“This is the perfect situation for him,” said Brandon Chubb, Bradley’s brother, who is a Detroit Lions linebacker. “… Doing the things they do with Von, he can fit into that. And he gets to work with Von.”

“A question such as that is completely inappropriate and wholly contrary to league workplace policies,” the statement said.

“The NFL and its clubs are committed to providing equal employment opportunities to all employees in a manner that is consistent with our commitment to diversity and inclusion, state and federal laws and the CBA. We are looking into the matter.

“The league annually reminds clubs of these workplace policies that prohibit personnel from seeking information concerning a player’s sexual orientation.”

The attorney helping Michigan quarterback Shea Patterson navigate the NCAA waiver process following his transfer says the governing body isn’t dragging its feet and is asking the right questions.

“The fact that [Ole Miss] took the low road was no surprise to me,” Mars said Monday night. “But having read what their lawyers said in their response, I was surprised that Ole Miss would risk losing what little credibility it has left with the NCAA just to object to Shea playing for Michigan this fall.”sl_cardinals_005

Last Two Minute Report cites missed LeBron James goaltending call

LeBron James’ big block of a shot by Indiana Pacers star Victor Oladipo at the end of Game 5 should have resulted in a goaltending call, the NBA acknowledged Thursday.

The NBA noted in its Last Two Minute Report that referees missed the call when James blocked Oladipo’s shot after the ball made contact with the backboard.

Indianapolis mayor Joe Hogsett even got in on the act, tweeting out an image of an executive order outlawing goaltending — “for every player, on every team” — on Thursday.

Oh – one more thing. By executive order, I am proud to outlaw goaltending in the City of Indianapolis… for every player, on every team.

So, Happ still comes out slightly ahead of Baez in my latest rankings — though the gap between them has shrunk. As we get more and more data points, the rankings will continue to change. They’re just a snapshot in time and may look a bit off from current reality to some, depending on when you took the picture. May I remind you that Baez was hitting just .191 a mere seven games ago?

And for what it’s worth, Happ has started this week hitting .429 with a home run and three of Chicago’s 11 runs scored for a total of eight fantasy points (ESPN standard scoring). Baez is hitting .444, scoring once in the team’s two games for a total of six fantasy points. Let the debate continue!

Candelario homered, doubled and scored five runs for Detroit. Leonys Martin led off the game with his third home run of the season, and James McCann also went deep as the Tigers won for the sixth time in eight games.

Pittsburgh has lost seven of eight. Francisco Cervelli had three hits and a career-high six RBI, including a three-run homer in the third inning. His two-run double in the eighth pulled the Pirates within 12-10.

Corey Dickerson also had three hits for Pittsburgh, and Colin Moran homered.

Daniel Stumpf (1-0) retired all four batters he faced for his first major league win. Shane Greene pitched a 1-2-3 ninth for his fourth save in six opportunities.

Jameson Taillon (2-2) allowed seven runs and 10 hits in 3 2/3 innings. He has been tagged for 12 runs in 5 1/3 innings in losing his last two starts after pitching a combined 15 scoreless innings to win his previous two outings.

“A lot of strikes and my stuff felt really good, but I felt like the mistakes I made all got punished,” Taillon said. “At this level, you can’t make mistakes.”

Tigers starter Jordan Zimmermann lasted just three innings, giving up six runs and six hits.

“I thought I threw the ball well, but the results weren’t there,” Zimmermann said. “It’s frustrating.”jets_051

Homers lift Indians past Cubs, but Miller injured in 4-1 win

The Cleveland Indians might need to get along without reliever Andrew Miller for a bit.

Miller left Wednesday night’s 4-1 win over the Chicago Cubs because of a tight left hamstring. He was set for an MRI on Thursday, and manager Terry Francona said the lefty had the same injury while pitching for Baltimore in 2014.

“He’s had it before,” Francona said. “The hope is, I think last time he said it was 3-4 days. That would really be the hope. We’ll know a lot more tomorrow. And hopefully, that’s all it is.”

“Whoever says solo homers can’t beat you (is wrong), I guess,” Lester said. “The only pitch that was a bad decision on my part — and I shook to it — was the pitch to Guyer. The other two, Lindor goes oppo and a ball on the ground that Encarnacion hits out. That’s the game, unfortunately.”

Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant was out of the lineup for the second straight game after being hit in the helmet by a pitch Sunday. The 2016 NL MVP didn’t play in the Cubs’ 10-3 win Tuesday.

Miller replaced Bauer after Javier Baez’s two-out single. Tyler Olson retired Rizzo on a flyball.

The Bucks head into Thursday’s game down 3-2 in the series and know they must do a better job finding more ways for Antetokounmpo to find success.

“We all have to take responsibility in that — finding different spots to put him in,” Bucks interim head coach Joe Prunty said. “I think Giannis is one of the most aggressive drivers in the game, trying to get downhill. I think he gets bodied quite a bit. What I’m concerned about [is] how much they’re pushing. I want him to keep attacking regardless of how physical the game may be. But in the grand scheme of things, I would just say it’s on all of us. I’ve got to help find him better opportunities for shots. We have to make sure he’s getting the ball, but I want to make sure for us we got a quality possession every time. We’ve got multiple guys that are capable of knocking shots down. I don’t want it to turn into, ‘Hey, we have to do this for Giannis.'”

Antetokounmpo finished just 5-for-10 from the field, and the 10 field goal attempts were the fourth-most on the Bucks. His two total drives and one shot in transition were the fewest he had in any game throughout this series, according to ESPN Stats & Information. He had 21 assist opportunities compared with an average of nine in Games 1-4.

“I feel like the shots I had, the moments in the game, that they were quality shots, so I took them,” Antetokounmpo said. “In Game 6, I got to come out being more aggressive. I still tried to make plays, tried to put my teammates in the right spot. I was just trying to be aggressive.”jets_103

Danica Patrick gains perspective before preparations for Indianapolis 500

Danica Patrick, right, and Aaron Rodgers, left, spent a week in Africa taking part in a Starkey Hearing Foundation program where they fitted people with hearing aids.

Danica Patrick doesn’t think her recent trip to Africa will have any direct impact on her approach to the Indianapolis 500 next month.

It might affect her approach to life, but as far as relieving anxiety or having a profound change on her outlook as she embarks on her final race, she doesn’t expect much of a change.

“One of the cooler things about him is he generally, especially when walking into the room, makes you feel relaxed and down to earth,” Patrick said. “He was kind of joking around with people and smiling, and that kind of made everyone relax a little bit.

“He went into his perspectives on things and had a nice message about how to treat each other and kind of an all-for-one attitude. It was really cool.”

Patrick said that one of the monks who accompanied them on the trip suggested she show video of one of her IndyCar wrecks to the Dalai Lama.

“They couldn’t get around the fact that in an IndyCar, I go 240 miles an hour — that’s like unfathomable, so I was showing [the monk] some accident videos and he was like, ‘You should show him that,'” Patrick said.

“He did see a video, and apparently they talked about it later that night. So that’s funny. I’m like, ‘Can’t we show me winning at Japan? Isn’t that better than crash video?'”

But that wasn’t the reason James’ teammates doused him with water in celebration on the floor. They toasted him because of his complete effort, which included 44 points, 10 rebounds and 8 assists with the sort of attack-dog mentality that not only saved the season but also pushed off thoughts of James’ free agency for at least a few days.

“As a kid, you always have those ‘three-two-one’ moments, and being able to have one of those moments, that’s what it kind of felt like. Felt like I was a kid all over again,” James said. “Just playing basketball at my house, makeshift hoops and my socks as a basketball. Making the [swish] noise.”

The Pacers were frustrated that they allowed James to have so much space — tracking data from Second Spectrum showed that James had 4.6 feet of room when he launched the shot. A switch had gotten Thaddeus Young, who had five fouls, to guard James, and he allowed too much cushion.

“We had a timeout to talk about what we see out there, and we had a foul to give,” Pacers coach Nate McMillan. “We’re leaving here with both of them.”jets_139

Robert Quinn felt shocked, betrayed by trade to Dolphins

As the Rams shake things up in L.A., adding big-name pieces as they pursue big-time results (on the field and at the cash register), they’ll be forced to make tough decisions about some of the players who were perceived to be key components of the team. This year, defensive end Robert Quinn and linebacker Alec Ogletree — supposed cornerstones of the team’s defense — was abruptly and unceremoniously traded.

He’s now an East Coast guy. And, perhaps more importantly, a no-state-income-tax guy. That alone will let him keep 13.3 cents from every dollar he earns.

Seattle is retooling its roster, and its biggest need is the secondary, where more turnover after Richard Sherman’s release is likely. Still, the Seahawks’ offensive line is far from a completed unit, and Williams would give them an upside guard who potentially can play either tackle spot down the road.

The fit makes too much sense. The Cowboys don’t want to keep Dez Bryant much longer, and they need a big-bodied outside receiver for the future. Sutton is a worthy first-round pick and can complement, then replace, Bryant.

The Lions are clear in their desire to upgrade their rushing attack this offseason, but they haven’t finished the job. Guice, the draft’s second best running back, would give this team the difference-maker its group of rotational backs doesn’t offer.

“He has to get healthy and stay healthy,” Gruden said. “We need him to be the player he was the first two years. I’ve said it earlier. We’re going to make him the main vein of our passing offense and move him around a lot. . . . We are really excited about him. I think he’s entering the prime of his career.”

Gruden coached Tim Brown for five seasons of Brown’s Hall of Fame career, and Gruden sees similarities.

“I said it when he came out of Alabama, that he reminded me of a young Tim Brown,” Gruden said. “He has that type of game speed. He’s elusive, and has a wide range of routes he can run. He’s flexible. It’ll benefit him to stay healthy and stay in the same system for a few years. If he does that, great things are ahead.”

That’s a lofty comparison for a player who needs to get back on track.bills_066

Arthur Blank: “No need to worry” about Matt Ryan extension

Falcons owner Arthur Blank is about to write a very large check to Matt Ryan. But it’s worth remembering that Blank also receives many much larger checks, so perhaps that’s why he’s so calm.

Blank told Jeff Schultz of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he wasn’t panicked at all about the pace of the negotiations with the former MVP quarterback.

The end result is Kidd-Gilchrist standing around the perimeter, scrounging on cuts, offensive boards, and manic transition sprints. No one guards him.

That does not make Kidd-Gilchrist useless. The Hornets have generally played better, even on offense, with Kidd-Gilchrist on the floor. He is a plus defender across four positions, even if he hasn’t developed into the unshakeable stopper we all envisioned. He has hit 47 percent of shots between 10 and 16 feet from the hoop, a solid number.

But those shots aren’t worth enough to matter. The damage Kidd-Gilchrist inflicts on Charlotte’s spacing — and his presence as a safe hiding spot for sieves — outweighs the occasional midrange swish and all his expert mooching. He would be a more interesting player if Charlotte gave him a little added on-ball responsibility — even some touches at the elbow.

Butler told Sports Illustrated that he wanted to ask Belichick or defensive coordinator Matt Patricia to explain why, after playing every snap of the AFC Championship Game, he didn’t play a single snap on defense in the Super Bowl.

“There was times when I was on the sideline and I just wanted to go up and say to Belichick or Matt Patricia and just say, ‘Is this how we’re gonna end this?’ I grew up in the Patriots system and I’m a man of God. I respect my authority and I just couldn’t ask them for something they didn’t want to do. I just was doing my job. I was close to going up there and saying what I wanted to say to Matt or Belichick, but I just stayed in my lane and just did my job. And I really wanted to go ask him, but I didn’t,” Butler said.bills_054

Ziggy Ansah in Ghana, won’t be at Lions workouts Monday

The Lions will start their first offseason work since hiring Matt Patricia as their head coach on Monday and one of the team’s top defensive players is not expected to be there.

Ansah hasn’t signed the tag, and remained in his native country of Ghana for a family obligation while the team reported for voluntary workouts on Monday. But it didn’t sound like anyone was concerned about a potential holdout.

Wood announced the Lions had the NFL’s biggest year-over-year attendance increase last season, which included six standing-room-only games at Ford Field. He joked with Patricia that the goal was eight this upcoming season, which the coach quipped, “More than eight,” drawing a large cheer from the crowd.

Gronkowski has battled injuries throughout his career, most recently a concussion in the AFC Championship Game. But reports have indicated his consideration of retiring may have more to do with being burned out emotionally than anything physical. Gronkowski has said that he saves the money he makes from the Patriots, so he could afford to retire, and he has other options, including acting and pro wrestling.

The report also says that Belichick has had some frustrations with Gronkowski and has questioned whether he’s fully committed to Belichick’s way of doing things.

If Gronkowski wants to keep playing, but not for Belichick, a trade could make sense for all involved. But the Patriots would surely want something significant in return for Gronkowski, and any team trading for him would need an assurance that he’s committed to continuing to play.

If Gronkowski is healthy and ready to go, he remains the best tight end in the NFL. His situation will bear monitoring until we have a definitive answer about his future.bills_042

The hometown newspaper here, the Augusta Chronicle, identified him as “a Texan” in Friday’s editions. 

That’s old news, though. Do a search for the word “hate” and “Patrick Reed” on Twitter, and the results are jarring. Twitter is never a good place to measure humanity’s real take on anything, but try doing the same thing with McIlroy or Spieth or any of the other top players, and the results are quite different. The Telegraph of Great Britian once declared him ” the most hated player in golf ,” and there is evidence to support the claim.

He certainly believes that he’s going to win on Sunday, and after watching him for three days, it’s hard to make a compelling case that he won’t. His most brilliant shot of many came in setting up that eagle on No. 13, when he hit a low-riding 4 iron into a perfect spot on the green.

McIlroy found the azelas trying to make that shot. Rickie Fowler landed in the water with his approach. Reed sank his eagle putt, pumping his fist as the ball hit the bottom of the cup. It was a brilliant moment that kept in him total control of this tournament.

And most of the fans had already turned and walked away.

After retiring, he worked on Vikings radio broadcasts for four seasons. and also was the Denver Broncos’ general manager in 1981 and 1982.

“We are saddened to hear of the loss of Grady Alderman,” Vikings owners Zygi and Mark Wilf said in a statement. “His impact on the Vikings was threefold — as a great player, as a member of the front office and as a member of our radio broadcasts.

“Grady epitomized the Vikings work ethic on the field as a Pro Bowl offensive tackle in the early days of the franchise and was a foundation piece for the success of the 1960s and 1970s.”

The Gophers baseball team won two games against Penn State, 7-6 and 17-2, on Saturday afternoon in West Lafayette, Ind. The series was moved from Minneapolis to a neutral site to escape the cold weather, but the cold still affected this series.bills_006

Calais Campbell says Jaguars are starting ‘back at zero’

The Jacksonville Jaguars are going to be in a strange position next season; one that they are not accustomed to. After how well they played in 2017, they are going to be among the favorites to win the AFC in 2018. But Calais Campbell thinks the team needs to approach the season like any other.

He thinks they need to act like it’s another year with little to nothing expected of them.

Losing five of their past six games, the Sharks aren’t exactly charging into the postseason. Still, we’re giving Peter DeBoer’s squad a slight edge over the Anaheim Ducks, based on their averaging 3.56 goals per game since March 1. As such, the forward duo of Joe Pavelski and San Jose newbie Evander Kane packs a solid fantasy punch, along with power-play-mate Logan Couture. Running hot, Pavelski appeals in particular as a proven playoff performer following his 14 goals and nine assists in 24 games two years ago.

Landon Collins and Damon Harrison, too.

Giants safety Landon Collins said any issues from last season with cornerback Eli Apple – including calling him a “cancer” for his locker room behavior, for which he apologized the next day – are now part of a forgettable past.

“We buried the hatchet a while ago,” Collins said. “That’s my guy, that’s my brother. I’m always going to have his back and wrams_061e know what we have to do. We know what kind of caliber player he is, we know what caliber player I am and we’re just trying to get to work and make this season go. I’m glad to see him back. He’s a great corner. He is very smart, I love that he comes up and lays the boom on guys and he’s a great coverage guy. We need him and we’re glad to have him back.”

The Giants have promised a clean slate for Apple and his position coaches – Lou Anarumo and assistant Deshea Townsend – praised the 2016 first-round pick’s skill set last week.

He’s recorded double-digit sacks in three straight seasons.

With the NFL announcing the 2018 preseason slate on Wednesday, it’s time to daydream of football games — however insignificant — returning gloriously to our lives.

Let’s take a gander at some of the better games on the preseason docket, which runs throughout August:

The right forearm that Collins broke in late December isn’t healing as quickly as hoped and might soon require surgery to plate the break again, NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo reported, via a source informed of the situation.

If the two-time Pro Bowl selection does undergo a second procedure, Garafolo added, the recovery would be six-to-eight weeks before he can return to full football activity.

Mack, 27, is entering the final year of his rookie contract and is due to make $13.8 million in 2018, per Spotrac. He’s in line to be one of the highest-paid defensive players in football, however, after being a three-time Pro Bowler, two-time first-team All-Pro selection and the 2016 Defensive Player of the Year.

Kevin Patra of NFL.com added that Mack “is likely seeking a contract that makes him the highest-paid edge defender in the NFL—a title currently held by Von Miller at just over $19 million per season.”

In 2017, Mack registered 78 tackles, 10.5 sacks, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.
As Vic Tafur of The Athletic noted, the team’s next two weeks of camp are voluntary, as is the veteran minicamp that begins April 23. The June 12 minicamp is mandatory, however, and if Mack hasn’t signed a long-term extension by that point and doesn’t attend, a holdout could be on the horizon. rams_006