Category Archives: Sports

Kawhi Leonard scores 24 as Raptors beat Cavaliers

Kawhi Leonard had 24 points and a team-high 13 rebounds in his Toronto debut, Kyle Lowry scored 27 points and the Raptors beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 116-104 on Wednesday night (Thursday, PHL time) in the season-opener for both teams.

Fred VanVleet scored 14 points, Pascal Siakam had 13 and Danny Green 11 as the Raptors won their sixth straight season opener and gave Nick Nurse a victory in his first game as head coach.

Kevin Love scored 21 points and Cedi Osman had 17 points and 10 rebounds for the Cavaliers. Cleveland knocked Toronto out of the playoffs in each of the last three seasons, but faces a struggle this season now that former star LeBron James is with the Los Angeles Lakers.

Leonard played 37 minutes in his first competitive game since January with San Antonio. The two-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year was limited to nine games last season because of a quadriceps injury.

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Acquired from the Spurs in a July blockbuster that sent four-time All-Star DeMar DeRozan to San Antonio, Leonard was introduced to a thunderous ovation, the final Raptors starter to have his name announced to the capacity crowd of 19,915.

Leonard missed his first three shot attempts but made three of his next four to score a team-high six points in the opening quarter. Lowry and Siakam each scored five in the first as Toronto led 28-25 after one.

“I felt good,” Leonard said. “I’m happy we came out and got a win. I came out of the game healthy, so it’s a win-win for me.”

Leonard added six more points in the second quarter and Lowry had five as Toronto made 5-of-10 from three-point range to open a 60-47 lead at halftime.

“It’s one game,” Leonard said. “I can only see what’s in front of me right now, so it’s not that I’m looking back saying I want to get back to that level, it’s about right now and what I need to do to be the best player for the Raptors. That’s what my focus is.”

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Suns officially announce signing of Jamal Crawford

The Phoenix Suns have officially announced the signing of veteran guard Jamal Crawford.

Wednesday’s announcement ahead of the team’s season opener against Dallas came two days after there were multiple reports that Crawford and the Suns had agreed to a one-year deal.

The 38-year-old Crawford is entering his 19th NBA season and has a career average of 15 points per game. He averaged 10.3 points in 80 games with the Minnesota Timberwolves last season.

Crawford adds a veteran presence to the young Suns. One of the most explosive scorers in NBA history, and one of the most respected players among his peers in the league today, he is the only three-time winner of the Sixth Man of the Year Award (2009-10, 2013-14, 2015-16) and also won the NBA’s Twyman-Stokes Teammate of the Year Award in 2017-18. Crawford ranks fifth in NBA history with 2,153 career three-pointers, 30th with 1,262 games played and 57th with 18,906 career points; his 10,766 career points in a reserve role are second-most in the NBA over the past 35 years behind only Dell Curry. Crawford is the NBA’s all-time leader with 53 career four-point plays.

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The 6-5, 185-pound guard joins the Suns after playing last season with Minnesota where he helped the Timberwolves reach the NBA Playoffs for the first time in 14 years. Crawford was Minnesota’s leading scorer off the bench, averaging 10.3 points in 80 appearances during the regular season and 11.8 points in five postseason games.

Crawford has appeared in the postseason eight times for his career, including each of the last six seasons, averaging 14.3 points, 2.2 assists and 1.9 rebounds in 74 playoff games. He has been a member of four teams that have reached the Conference Semifinals.

Originally selected with the No. 8 overall pick of the 2000 NBA Draft by Cleveland, Crawford joined the NBA following one season at the University of Michigan. Born in Seattle, he attended Rainier Beach High School and remains active in giving back to the community in his hometown and beyond.

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Warriors beat Thunder in season opener

The Golden State Warriors opened the NBA season with a championship ring ceremony for the third time in four years and reminded everyone of their place atop the league’s pecking order Tuesday with a 108-100 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder at Oracle Arena.

Paul George (27 points, five assists and four steals) led a Thunder team playing without Russell Westbrook after he underwent arthroscopic knee surgery, while Stephen Curry (32 points, nine assists and eight rebounds) and Kevin Durant (27 points, eight rebounds and six assists) spearheaded Golden State’s attack.

Oklahoma City pulled within two with less than two minutes remaining, but an and-1 from Curry and a late basket from Durant clinched the win.

The Thunder weren’t supposed to stay close Tuesday with Westbrook and Andre Roberson sidelined and Steven Adams dealing with a back issue, per Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area.

Oklahoma City not only hung with a historically great team without its MVP candidate and premier defender, it quickly erased a double-digit deficit and built a second-half lead. It also hinted at what’s to come when all the pieces of a new-look team playing without Carmelo Anthony’s ball-stopping ways are together.

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The pieces fit together more smoothly without Anthony, and the wing defense will be much improved with George and Roberson together. George is a three-time All-Defensive selection who can defend the opponent’s best player while carrying the offense, and Roberson was a defensive force in 2017-18.

Oklahoma City’s defensive rating was 96.6 when he was on the floor and 108.4 when he was off it, per NBA.com. By comparison, it was 105.6 when Anthony was on it and improved to 102.3 when he was off.

Don’t dwell on one shorthanded loss to the league’s best team—the Thunder are primed for an impressive season.

It becomes a matter of nitpicking when looking for weaknesses on a team coming off four straight NBA Finals appearances. Golden State even addressed potential frontcourt concerns by adding one of the elite centers in the league in DeMarcus Cousins this offseason.

In a perfect world, Golden State will take all that talent and accumulate blowouts throughout the season so it can rest Curry, Durant, Draymond Green, Klay Thompson and Cousins when he returns from his Achilles injury. The Warriors’ best chance at a three-peat is keeping that fivesome fresh before May and June.

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Redskins release veteran Ziggy Hood

There’s one player who won’t take the field when the Washington Redskins face the Dallas Cowboys on Oct. 21.

According to a statement from his agent, defensive lineman Evander “Ziggy” Hood has been notified of his release from the team.

Hood, a natural end, played nose tackle the previous two years because of injuries to others. Washington re-signed him in the offseason to a one-year deal worth up to $1.78 million, and his $1.2 million base salary was guaranteed when he made the roster out of camp.

He was on the bubble during training camp and might have been cut at that time had Stacy McGee been available. McGee, however, remains on the physically unable to perform list after undergoing core muscle surgery in the spring. He’s eligible to start practicing, but it’s uncertain when he will be on the field again.

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After delivering 27 starts in his first two years with the club, he has no starts in 2018 and his production has fallen off in the process. The veteran has only 1.5 sacks and one forced fumble since landing in Washington, neither of which have come in any of the first five games to start this year. He’s been blanked across his stat line, mostly, save for his lowly three combined tackles.

A former first-round pick of the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2009, there were many who felt Hood had a ton of upside after coming on strong at the University of Missouri. He’d go on to spend his entire rookie contract, including a fifth-year option, in Pittsburgh before becoming an NFL journeyman. Prior to joining the Redskins, he had stints with the Jacksonville Jaguars and Chicago Bears, with neither lasting long at all.

He’ll now head to free agency having 222 total career tackles, 14 sacks, 10 pass deflections, five fumble recoveries and the aforementioned forced fumble on his resume — in the hopes a needy team will contact him for his services.

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Confirmed Mike Hughes out for season with torn ACL

Coach Mike Zimmer confirmed Monday that Hughes’ MRI revealed a torn ACL, ending the rookie cornerback’s season, Adam Schefter of ESPN reports.

Hughes, the Vikings’ first-round pick, suffered the left knee injury in Sunday’s win over the Cardinals.

Hughes’ leg appeared to buckle when he dropped into coverage against Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald with 8:59 to play. Hughes tumbled to the ground, grabbing his left knee, and was tended to for several minutes before being helped off by Vikings’ medical staff.

His first NFL campaign will come to an end after just six weeks, during which the cornerback tallied 22 tackles, three pass breakups, an interception and a forced fumble. Hughes’ absence should open up more reps for Mackensie Alexander in the Vikings’ nickel package. Expect the Vikings to move Hughes to injured reserve later this week.

This is the second year in a row that the Vikings’ top draft pick has been lost due to a torn ACL early in the season with 2017 second round running back Dalvin Cook doing the same in Week 4 of last season, not to mention some of the other notable knee injuries in recent team history.

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The rest of the Vikings depth chart at cornerback features Xavier Rhodes, Trae Waynes, Mackensie Alexander, Marcus Sherels and undrafted rookie Holton Hill. The latter three players will likely combine to fill the void, though a roster move involving a cornerback cannot be ruled out.

Hughes was selected with the No. 30 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft out of the University of Central Florida, where he spent the 2017 season on a team that went undefeated and also featured one of the draft’s best stories in linebacker Shaquem Griffen, who would wind up being drafted by the Seattle Seahawks. Hughes began his career at the University of North Carolina and transferred to Garden City Community College after a year in Chapel Hill.

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Bills QB Josh Allen out against Colts due to elbow injury

A new report has surfaced on Tuesday which indicates that Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen will not play in Week 7 against the Indianapolis Colts.

Allen suffered a strained UCL ligament in his throwing arm’s elbow. That’s the same injury that requires Tommy John surgery in baseball players, however, Allen could be out about a month allowing the injury to rest.

During Sunday’s 20-13 loss to the Houston Texans, Allen was spotted on the sideline wincing in pain as trainers evaluated his injury.

On Monday, Buffalo head coach Sean McDermott labeled Allen’s injury as “week-to-week.” McDermott also discussed the two options who could now start for the Bills against the Colts: Nathan Peterman and Derek Anderson.

On Anderson, the coach said the 14-year vet might not be ready in time, calling his knowledge of the offense, at this point, a “work in progress.”

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However, offensive coordinator Brian Daboll sounded a bit more optimistic about Anderson on Monday.

“(Anderson is) picking [the offense] up. To come off the street and come in, he’s upstairs right now, he’s upstairs all the time. I don’t think you can put the whole thing on him. He’s played a long time, so concepts are concepts. It’s understanding the language. He’s grinding it out,” Daboll said.

On Peterman, it didn’t sound like McDermott gave much consideration to getting rid of the second-year player. Instead, on two occasions, McDermott expressed his confidence in Peterman, despite another interception-filled outing against the Texans.

“I have to put the guy out there who’s the best guy for our football team. I understand the fan side of it and that sentiment, but at the same time I have to do what’s best for the football team,” McDermott said. “I’m confident in every football player on our team and with respect to Nate, no different.”

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Richard Jefferson moves on from Basketball after 17 seasons

Richard Jefferson announced Saturday he has decided to “move on from basketball.”

The news of the 17-year NBA veteran’s retirement came from an emotional Instagram post featuring a video of his late father, who died last month.

“In the last month I’ve dealt with two life changing events back to back,” Jefferson wrote. “My decision to move on from basketball and the tragic passing of Big Rich.The support of my family and friends have been huge.”

Jefferson, 38, most notably won a championship with the Cavaliers in 2016. Last season, he averaged 8.2 minutes in 20 appearances with the Nuggets. Jefferson also spent time with the Nets, Bucks, Spurs, Warriors, Jazz and Mavericks.

Richard Jefferson Sr. was killed in a drive-by shooting in California on Sept. 19, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

Jefferson and his father had grown closer in recent years, sources told ESPN’s Dave McMenamin last month, with Jefferson, his wife and two children spending their summers in Los Angeles’ South Bay, not far from Jefferson Sr.’s home in Inglewood.

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Before his announcement Saturday, the younger Jefferson had started to pursue a post-playing career in broadcast journalism, appearing on ESPN and other networks.

The 13th pick in the 2001 draft out of Arizona, Jefferson starred early for the then-New Jersey Nets before transitioning into a respected veteran reserve during the latter half of his career.

Jefferson’s final stop came with the upstart Denver Nuggets last season, a 20-game curtain call in which the 37-year-old appeared to relish the opportunity to be a mentor.

In all, Jefferson averaged 12.6 points, four rebounds, and two assists per game for his career, finishing just 96 total points shy of 15,000. He never made an All-Star team, but established himself as a vibrant character in the Association.

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Djokovic wins fourth Shanghai masters

Novak Djokovic won the Shanghai Masters after a convincing 6-3 6-4 victory over surprise finalist Borna Coric in China.

Djokovic secured his fourth title at the tournament and in the process moved a step closer to ending the year as world number one.

The Serb extended his winning run to 18 matches in China, following up his successes at Wimbledon, the Cincinnati Masters and US Open.

Coric, who knocked out Juan Martin del Potro and Roger Federer en route to his first ATP Masters series final, matched Djokovic in the early exchanges as the two players traded blow-for-blow on serve.

That was until, however, Djokovic made the breakthrough with a break in the seventh and ninth game to take the first set.

Coric again battled well in the second set and saved three match points at 5-4, with Djokovic uncharacteristically smashing an overhead volley wide.

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However, the 31-year-old served out for the title, maintaining his record of not dropping serve during the week and becoming just the third player to win a Masters 1000 event without getting broken.

“Maybe I was Chinese in the past life,” said Djokovic, smiling, in explaining impressive record in the country. “I wouldn’t be surprised, to be honest, with the way I feel here and the way I communicate and have relationship with the people.

“It’s all very, very positive, for more than ten years that I have been coming to China. There is something special about this place that makes me feel like at home.”

Djokovic dominated opponents behind his powerful serve, winning all 47 of his service games during the tournament.

“Well, to be honest, I’m not sure whether it has happened ever, you know, that I go through a tournament without dropping one service game,” Djokovic said. “I’m sure that it hasn’t happened too many times if it did. So this was definitely one of the best service weeks that I had in my career.

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Dodgers add Julio Urias to NLCS roster

Left-handed pitcher Julio Urias is joining the Los Angeles Dodgers’ 25-man roster for the NL Championship Series against the Milwaukee Brewers.

The Dodgers made room for Urias by dropping lefty Scott Alexander off the NLCS roster finalized before Game 1.

Urias, formerly the organization’s top starting-pitching prospect, made three scoreless relief appearances as a September call-up in his return from shoulder surgery, a procedure that kept him out for more than a year. For their matchup against the Milwaukee Brewers, Urias will essentially replace Scott Alexander as a left-hander out of the bullpen. The rest of the roster remained unchanged.
Urias was on his way to becoming a top-of-the-rotation starter for the Dodgers until undergoing surgery to repair a torn capsule in June 2017.
He struggled at times in his return to the minors late this season, ultimately allowing seven runs on 10 hits and seven walks in a span of 11 2/3 innings. But he later threw four scoreless innings with the Dodgers, allowing only one baserunner while striking out seven batters. His fastball touched 97 mph.

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But Urias was given ample rest in between outings then and probably isn’t ready to pitch in back-to-back games.

Alexander was 2-1 with a 3.68 ERA and three saves this season. He made one appearance in the NLDS against the Braves, pitching a scoreless ninth inning in Game 3.

The Dodgers made no other changes to their roster, going with 12 pitchers and 13 position players.

Reliever Xavier Cedeno is joining the Milwaukee Brewers’ 25-man roster for the NL Championship Series, giving the strong bullpen another left-handed arm against the Dodgers’ power-packed lineup.

The Brewers made room for Cedeno by dropping slick-fielding outfielder Keon Broxton off the NLCS roster that was set before Game 1.

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Carson Wentz returns to dominant MVP form

Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz looked like his old MVP-caliber self Thursday night, slicing through the New York Giants defense to post three touchdowns, no interceptions and a 122 quarterback rating as the Eagles rolled past their division rival 34-13, improving to 3-3 in the process.

It was clear Wentz was back to form right out of the gate. Facing a third-and-7 at the Giants’ 13-yard line on the Eagles’ first possession, Wentz rolled out right, extended the play and then threw across his body and into the back of the end zone to a tightly-covered Alshon Jeffery for the touchdown.

“They always say, don’t throw late over the middle, but with Carson those rules kind of go out the window,” tight end Zach Ertz said. “You kind of just let him do his thing.”

According to NFL Next Gen Stats, Wentz took 6.77 seconds to throw that touchdown pass, the third-longest by any player on a TD this season.

“When we’re in the red zone, sometimes you just have to improvise,” Wentz said. “It’s not always the smartest thing to throw back across your body, but when you’ve got a guy like Alshon in the back of the end zone, you can really trust him to make a play.”

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Wentz, playing in his fourth game since returning from an ACL/LCL injury, was the catalyst. He went 13-of-14 for 168 pass yards and two touchdowns on third down. Coming in, he was completing 44 percent of his third-down passes.

The mounting injuries are a concern for the Eagles, whose schedule picks up with games against the Carolina Panthers, Jacksonville Jaguars, Dallas Cowboys and New Orleans Saints over the next four weeks.

But on Thursday, the 2017 Eagles offense showed up, and just in time to potentially save the 2018 season.

“It’s huge,” Wentz said. “Obviously being 3-3 is a heck of a lot better than being 2-4, being 1-0 in the division. There’s definitely things we can build on, we can kind of use it as momentum now, kind of point to some things that say, ‘Hey, this is who we are, don’t forget that,’ and then build from here.”

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