All posts by phnseo

Lakers hold off Magic 96-93, win again without LeBron, Davis

Dennis Schröder scored 24 points, Kyle Kuzma added 21 and the Los Angeles Lakers rallied in the fourth quarter to beat the Orlando Magic 96-93 Sunday night.

Montrezl Harrell added 18 points and 11 rebounds for Los Angeles, which has won two in a row without LeBron James and Anthony Davis. However, the Lakers had a tough time trying to shake the Eastern Conference’s second-worst team.

Orlando’s Otto Porter Jr. had a clean look at a 3-pointer to send it to overtime, but the shot hit the rim.

“It wasn’t pretty, but we played well. This is a tough shooting night, but our defense carried us through,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel stated.

Los Angeles improved to 2/3 without James and Davis. They are fourth in the Western Conference at 30-17 and are 2 1/2 games in front of Denver and Portland. They are also two games behind second-place Phoenix and a game in back of the third-place LA Clippers.

“We’re not playing for holding on. We’re paid to do the same job, which is win games,” Harrell said. “We’re going to try to continue to keep rolling until they get back.”

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Kuzma, who also had 11 rebounds for his 12th double-double of the season, said the Lakers got plenty of open looks, but were not unable to convert until late.

Los Angeles made only 41.6% of its shots from the field for its sixth-worst shooting game of the campaign.

“We probably got the most open looks that we’ve had all season, especially on 3-pointers,” he said.

Orlando had a 82-77 lead with 7:19 left after R.J. Hampton drilled a 3-pointer. The Lakers trailed 84-80 midway through the fourth quarter before going on a 12-1 run to seize control as Schröder and Kuzma each had five points.

Los Angeles had a seven-point lead with under three minutes remaining, but the Magic got within three going to the final possession.

Dwayne Bacon led the Magic with 26 points and Chuma Okeke scored 14. Orlando (15-31) has dropped 13 of 15.

Even though he has plenty of moving pieces after five players were moved at the trade deadline, Orlando coach Steve Clifford was frustrated with his team’s failures to execute down the stretch.

“We fouled unnecessarily, played undisciplined defense and missed blockouts,” he stated. “We played hard and didn’t play smart. The game was there to be won. Nobody knocked it out of the park.”

There were nine lead changes and three ties during the first 13 minutes before the Lakers went on a 17-3 run to go up 39-26 with under three minutes remaining in the second quarter. The Magic rallied to get it down to a five-point deficit at halftime (44-39) as Bacon had seven points down the stretch.

Markieff Morris’ 3-pointer gave the Lakers a 61-53 lead before Orlando scored eight consecutive to tie it at 61 with 2:12 remaining in the third quarter. There were three more ties in the quarter as it was 69-all going into the final 12 minutes.

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Jarran Reed, Kansas City Chiefs agree to 1-year deal

Defensive tackle Jarran Reed has agreed to terms on a one-year deal with the Kansas City Chiefs, sources told ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler on Sunday.

Reed can earn up to $7 million on the deal, sources said.

Reed joins a defensive tackle rotation that incorporates Chris Jones, Derrick Nnadi and Tershawn Wharton. Jones has led the Chiefs in sacks in each of the past three seasons. Nnadi plays mostly on running downs, while Wharton showed promise last season as an undrafted rookie.

But Reed, with his 19 sacks over the past three seasons, gives the Chiefs a strong interior pass rusher to combine with Jones. The Seattle Seahawks released Reed on Friday, a year after the team signed him to a two-year, $23 million extension.

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Reed, 28, has been a full-time starter since 2017, the year after Seattle picked him in the second round out of Alabama.

He was known primarily as a run-stuffer his first two seasons but then broke out for 10.5 sacks in 2018.

He started the 2019 season by serving a six-game suspension for violating the NFL’s personal-conduct policy and finished the year with two sacks in 10 matches.

Reed, who reportedly wanted a long-term contract to stay in Seattle and couldn’t reach an agreement with the team, appeared in all 16 games for the Seahawks in 2020 and played on 74 percent of the team’s defensive snaps, per Football Reference. He had 6.5 sacks, 38 combined tackles and 14 quarterback hits, with one pass breakup and a forced fumble.

He was set to count nearly $14 million against the salary cap before he was released.

For his career, Reed has 22 sacks and 194 tackles in 72 regular-season games.

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Kevin Durant unlikely to return for Brooklyn Nets this week, coach Steve Nash says

Kevin Durant will not play versus the Minnesota Timberwolves on Monday, and Brooklyn Nets coach Steve Nash stated he doubts Durant will play this week as he continues to rehab from a hamstring strain that has sidelined him for a month and a half.

Nash stated Sunday that Durant “looks good” and “is progressing” but “still needs to be monitored and still needs to get a certain amount of markers under his belt” before he returns to game action.

Durant last played on Feb. 13 versus the Golden State Warriors. Durant stayed back during Brooklyn’s three-game road trip to Portland, Utah and Detroit last week while he worked through what Nash deemed a “critical last part” of his rehabilitation.

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The Nets were also without Kyrie Irving and Landry Shamet on that trip. Irving, who was not with the team while he attended to a family matter, will play on Monday. Shamet, who has been treating a right ankle sprain, has been ruled out against the Timberwolves.

Nash stated he doesn’t think that Shamet will return to the lineup this week, either.

After the Nets host the Timberwolves, they face Houston on Wednesday and the Charlotte Hornets on Thursday — all of which Durant and Shamet are likely to miss, according to Nash.

Nash reiterated that he doesn’t believe Shamet’s ankle will be a “long-term thing,” while Durant still has a few more tests to pass in his hamstring recovery.

Initially, the Nets ruled out Durant for two matches, but further imaging revealed a more severe strain than the team initially thought.

Nash has said that they also have the luxury of not rushing Durant back because the team has continued to win. The Nets, Nash said, are prioritizing Durant’s long-term health in what they hope will be a deep playoff run.

“There’s still steps for him to take,” Nash said of Durant, “although he looks great, is progressing and will definitely be back with us. It’s just, I don’t think this week is likely.”

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Sammy Watkins agrees to one-year contract with Baltimore Ravens

Sammy Watkins agreed to a one-year deal with the Baltimore Ravens, the team revealed. The team stated the contract is pending a physical.

Terms were not disclosed but sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter the deal is worth $6 million with $5 million guaranteed.

The addition of Watkins ended the Ravens’ difficult pursuit of an experienced wide receiver for quarterback Lamar Jackson and helps boost the NFL’s 32nd-ranked passing attack. Watkins’ 4,665 career receiving yards are more than double the combined career total of the Ravens’ current wide receivers (2,032).

If he can stay healthy, Watkins can team with Marquise “Hollywood” Brown as Baltimore’s starting wide receivers and complement him as a valuable underneath target for Jackson.

It has been a trying offseason for the Ravens to land a veteran wide receiver for Jackson, which further raises interrogations of whether wide receivers want to play in Baltimore’s run-first offense.

Desperately needing a wide receiver in a dwindling free-agent pool, the Ravens watched JuJu Smith-Schuster turn down a better offer to return to Pittsburgh last week and then lost out on T.Y. Hilton, who chose to go back to Indianapolis on Wednesday.

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Baltimore eventually went with Watkins, who had met with Ravens officials on Tuesday before leaving for a visit with the Colts. When Indianapolis retained Hilton, the Ravens struck a deal with Watkins.

By joining Baltimore, Watkins reunites with Ravens offensive coordinator Greg Roman and passing-game specialist Keith Williams. In Roman’s only full season as the Buffalo Bills’ offensive coordinator, Watkins produced career highs with 1,047 yards receiving and nine touchdowns in 2015. Before being hired by the Ravens this year, Williams recently served as Watkins’ personal receivers coach in the offseason.

This marks the first time Baltimore has signed a wide receiver this early in free agency since the Ravens added Michael Crabtree in 2018. The most significant free-agent wide receiver signings by the Ravens in the past two years were Seth Roberts and Dez Bryant.

One of the bigger surprises of the Ravens’ offseason was Baltimore not signing a wide receiver immediately when it was among the team’s top needs.

The Ravens’ wide receivers have ranked last in each of the past two campaigns in catches and receiving yards, and this group ranked among the youngest in the league because their two most experienced targets (Bryant and Willie Snead IV) are free agents.

Before bringing in Watkins, the Ravens’ top four wide receivers on their roster — Brown, Miles Boykin, Devin Duvernay and James Proche II — were all drafted in the past two years, and none are over the age of 24.

The signing of Watkins won’t preclude the Ravens from drafting a wide receiver, but it should decrease the necessity to select one in the first round. Watkins is only the Ravens’ second free agent signed from another team this offseason.

Earlier this month, Baltimore signed guard Kevin Zeitler to a three-year, $22.5 million contract.

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Ashleigh Barty edges Kristina Kucova after saving match point at Miami Open

Because of canceled flights, it took Ashleigh Barty 45 hours to travel from her native Australia to Florida for a tennis tournament.

Her stay at the Miami Open will be longer than that, thanks to an incredible comeback Thursday.

The top-ranked Barty rallied from a big third-set deficit and overcame a match point to win her opening match versus qualifier Kristina Kucova 6-3, 4-6, 7-5.

“Matches like that are extremely fulfilling, knowing you’ve done the work over an extended period to get just over the edge,” Barty said. “That was a really tough one today, and I enjoyed every single second of it.”

Barty, who won the most recent Miami Open title in 2019, trailed 5-2 in the final set. In the next game, she faced a match point, which she saved by ripping a weak serve for a winner.

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Barty fell behind 0-40 serving in the final game but again rallied against Kucova, a Slovak ranked 149th.

Barty closed out the triumph with a service winner and then tapped her temple with her index finger, a gesture of tribute to her mental fortitude.

“We never give up,” she said, “no matter what we’re feeling.”

Playing away from Australia for the first time in more than a year, Barty won despite an unreliable forehand. She whacked 40 unforced errors on that side, but she compensated somewhat with 15 aces.

Barty acknowledged that jet lag and the time difference between Miami and Australia made the match a challenge.

“You kind of forget how much it can take out of you,” she said. “But you have to accept that’s the way it is. It worked in my favor this morning — I got to watch some Aussie football back home.”

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Dallas Cowboys defensive lineman Tyrone Crawford to retire, coach Mike McCarthy says

After nine seasons with the Dallas Cowboys, defensive lineman Tyrone Crawford has opted to retire, coach Mike McCarthy revealed Thursday.

Crawford, 31, battled numerous injuries the past few seasons, including double hip surgery that limited him to just four games in 2019. That played a part in this decision, as he was set to be an unrestricted free agent but decided his body could not withstand the rigors of the NFL.

The Cowboys selected Crawford in the third round of the 2012 draft. After playing a reserve role as a rookie, he tore his Achilles in training camp in his second season.

He returned as a full-time starter in 2014 and had 37 tackles, 3 sacks, 4 tackles for loss and 29 pressures. In 2015, the Cowboys signed him to a five-year extension worth $45 million, and he posted 19 sacks from 2015-18, including a career-high 5.5 in 2018.

His capacity to play multiple spots along the defensive line ultimately hurt some of his production because the coaches would not settle on him playing defensive end or tackle.

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Crawford battled through shoulder injuries that would require surgery, but he became one of the defensive leaders, which was missed during his absence in 2019.

He started three of 16 games in 2020 and ended with 17 tackles, 2 sacks and 13 quarterback pressures.

If linebacker Sean Lee, who is a free agent, does not return for a 12th season, then DeMarcus Lawrence, a second-round pick in 2014, would be the Cowboys’ longest-tenured defensive player. Randy Gregory, a second-round pick in 2015, would be the second-longest.

Dallas has signed defensive end Tarell Basham as well as defensive tackles Carlos Watkins and Brent Urban this offseason.

“You can’t have enough 6-5, 260-, 265-pound athletes on your team,” McCarthy said.

With the firing of coordinator Mike Nolan and the hiring of Dan Quinn as his replacement, the Cowboys’ defense will have a new boss, but not necessarily a new look as McCarthy said they’ll run a similar scheme as last year.

The defense ranked 31st vs. the run, 23rd in yards allowed per match and 28th in points allowed last season. It was tied for seventh with 23 takeaways. “When you look at our team from 2020 to 2021, the largest change is clearly on defense,” McCarthy said.

“That’s something we felt was needed. … [But] this isn’t a start-over situation. We’re able to build on some of the things we were able to accomplish last year.”

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Balanced Cavaliers beat Bulls 103-94 without Sexton

Darius Garland had 22 points and nine assists, Jarrett Allen added 19 points and nine rebounds, and the Cleveland Cavaliers used a balanced attack to beat the Chicago Bulls 103-94 on Wednesday night without leading scorer Collin Sexton.

Larry Nance, Jr. had 14 points and pulled down 14 rebounds as Cleveland limited Chicago’s top scorers Zach LaVine and Lauri Markkanen in the second half. Isaac Okoro ended with 12 points for Cleveland, which won for just the fourth time in its last 10.

LaVine led Chicago with 22 points, getting 18 by the half on 6-for-8 shooting, including four 3-pointers. But the All-Star didn’t connect again until late and was held to two baskets on 12 shots in the second half.

Markkanen had 13 points in the first half before cooling off and ending with 17. Garland had 14 points in the second half to help Cleveland nudge ahead to a six-point lead after three quarters before the Cavs put it away in the fourth.

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Coby White and Tomas Satoransky each had 11 points for Chicago, which has lost four of five.

Sexton sat out after he experienced right hamstring soreness in the morning shootaround. Coach J.B. Bickerstaff stated the injury to the guard averaging 24 points wasn’t serious.

The Bulls led 55-53 after a tight first half, during which each team hit 22 shots from the floor. But Chicago was more efficient, shooting at 53.7% opposed to Cleveland’s 43.1%.

Both teams hit cold shooting stretches early and the Bulls committed six turnovers in the first quarter. That helped Cleveland open an eight-point lead with 4:32 left in the quarter, the biggest for either team in the half.

The Bulls pulled into a 25-all tie at the end of the quarter as LaVine lofted in a 3 as time ran out.

The Cavaliers opened a 78-72 lead after three quarters as the Bulls cooled off, shooting just 6 for 20 from the floor. LaVine went 0 for 5.

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RB Tevin Coleman first San Francisco 49ers free agent to join coach Robert Saleh’s New York Jets

Addressing their thin backfield, the New York Jets agreed to terms Wednesday with former San Francisco 49ers running back Tevin Coleman on a one-year deal that can be worth up to $2 million, a league source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Coleman will be reunited with Jets coach Robert Saleh and several assistants, all of whom left San Francisco after the season. After a few failed attempts over the past week, Saleh finally landed a 49ers free agent.

Coleman joins a relatively unproven backfield that incorporates Ty Johnson, La’Mical Perine and Josh Adams, none of whom has rushed for more than 511 yards in a season.

There’s also a good chance the Jets will draft a running back. The Jets plan to run the 49ers’ offense under new coordinator Mike LaFleur, a former San Francisco assistant, so Coleman will be familiar with the scheme.

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Coleman’s best year was 2018 with the Atlanta Falcons, when he ran for 800 yards in a contract year.

He rushed for 544 yards on the 49ers’ NFC championship team in 2019, but 2020 was a washout because of injuries.

In Week 2 versus the Jets, Coleman suffered a sprained knee that landed him on injured reserve. He was one of several 49ers players to get injured that day at MetLife Stadium, prompting complaints from the team about the quality of the turf.

Coleman sprained a knee later in the season and wound up playing only 63 offensive snaps in eight matches. He was limited to 53 yards on 28 carries (1.9 average) and no touchdowns.

It will be a new-look backfield for the Jets, whose leading rusher last season was Frank Gore, 37, a free agent who might retire.

The Jets also made a move on defense, signing former Philadelphia Eagles pass-rusher Vinny Curry to a one-year, $1.3 million contact. Curry, who turns 33 on June 30, projects as a situational rusher.

He recorded three sacks and 10 quarterbacks hits in 11 games last season. In nine seasons, including eight with the Eagles, he has 32.5 career sacks.

The Jets, one of the most active teams in free agency, have signed 11 players.

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Kyle Hendricks to once again start on Opening Day for Chicago Cubs

Chicago Cubs manager David Ross selected Kyle Hendricks to start on Opening Day last year, and it worked out quite well.

He sees no reason to make a modification this year.

Ross announced Tuesday that Hendricks will get the ball when the Cubs start the season versus Pittsburgh on April 1 at Wrigley Field. The right-hander tossed a three-hitter in a 3-0 triumph over Milwaukee on Opening Day last summer.

“I feel like we’ve got a lot of talent,” Ross said. “I feel like Kyle, his resume, his leadership, his poise, all that goes into being the Opening Day starter, just the extra, kind of, pomp and circumstance that goes with Opening Day, especially this coming year as well, every arrow points to Kyle.”

Ross said he wasn’t ready to announce the order for the rest of his starting pitchers. Chicago also has Jake Arrieta and Zach Davies, and Trevor Williams, Alec Mills, Adbert Alzolay and Shelby Miller are in the mix for the last two spots.

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But there is no question about the leader of the rotation, especially after the Cubs traded Yu Darvish to San Diego in December.

The 31-year-old Hendricks, known for his precision, control and professor-like demeanor, is making his second Opening Day start.

He went 6-5 with a 2.88 ERA in 12 starts during the pandemic-shortened season, helping Chicago win the NL Central.

The opener versus the Pirates will be the first match at Wrigley with a crowd since Sept. 22, 2019. The Cubs have been cleared for as many as 8,274 fans per game at the beginnig of the season.

Hendricks has been a steady presence for Chicago since his big league debut in 2014. The Dartmouth graduate is 69-48 with a 3.12 ERA in 175 career games.

He had his best year in 2016, going 16-8 with a major league-low 2.13 ERA. Hendricks, an eighth-round pick in the 2011 amateur draft, was acquired by Chicago in the July 2012 trade that sent Ryan Dempster to Texas.

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Green Bay Packers bring back Kevin King despite struggles in NFC title game

The Green Bay Packers are bringing back cornerback Kevin King on a one-year deal worth up to $6 million, a source told ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler.

King, the Packers’ top pick in the 2017 draft, had been much maligned throughout his career for injuries and inconsistent play. He concluded his season by allowing Tom Brady’s 39-yard touchdown pass to Scott Miller with one second left in the first half of the NFC Championship Game, then was flagged for pass interference on the drive that permitted the Buccaneers to run out the clock.

King has never stayed healthy for an entire season. He missed five matches last season because of a quad injury. He has missed 23 of a possible 64 regular-season games over his four-year career. He missed more games (17) than he played in (15) during his first two NFL seasons.

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Former Packers general manager Ted Thompson traded back from No. 29 overall in the 2017 draft, passing on T.J. Watt, among others, and picked King at No. 33 overall.

King has six career interceptions, five of those coming in the 2019 season, when he played a career-high 15 matches.

His signing keeps intact the starting secondary from last season, including second-team All-Pro cornerback Jaire Alexander along with safeties Adrian Amos and Darnell Savage.

The Packers have a new defensive coordinator, Joe Barry. Former defensive coordinator Mike Pettine’s contract was not renewed following last season.

The Packers lost All-Pro center Corey Linsley, who joined the Los Angeles Chargers on a five-year deal worth an average of $12.5 million per season.

The move reunites him with offensive tackle Bryan Bulaga, who left the Packers for the Chargers via free agency a year ago.

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