Category Archives: Sports

Harden lead Rockets over Grizzlies

Reigning MVP James Harden wrote his name into the NBA record books by extending his streak of 30+ point games to 17 as the Rockets toppled the Grizzlies.

The Rockets who are without Chris Paul, Eric Gordon and now Clint Capela turned to Harden to get them back into the win column and he delivered in spades.

From the opening tip it was clear Harden was locked in and despite the Grizzlies’ best efforts they were simply unable to slow down The Beard.

Harden ended the first half with 36 points on 11/21 shooting in only 19 minutes of game time.

The opening half outburst set a new franchise record for the most points scored in the first half by a Houston Rockets player.

Then he continued on in the second as he piled on another 21 points on 6/12 shooting to finish the game with 57 points.

It places Tuesday’s effort second on the list of highest scoring games for the Rockets, behind his own 60 points from last season. Harden now enters the NBA record books by becoming the first player since the ABA/NBA merger (1976) to score 30+ points in 17 straight games.

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He joins Wilt Chamberlain and Elgin Baylor as the only players to have a run of such potent scoring over that many games.

In the process of his display, Harden also kept his streak of hitting 5+ threes alive. Extending his run to 21 straight games.

It gives Harden three games of 50+ points this season. The fourth time in the last 10 seasons a player has done so, each time the feat was achieved the player went on to win the MVP, per ESPN Stats & Info.

The win pushes the Rockets to 26-18 on the season, tied with the Portland Trail Blazers in fourth place in the West.

For the Grizzlies it makes it two straight losses and sees them fall to 19-24. Harden will have a chance to continue his unbelievable run when the Rockets take on the Nets at home on Thursday.

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Vikings hire Gary Kubiak as advisor on Offense

The Minnesota Vikings on Monday hired Broncos front office executive Gary Kubiak as their assistant head coach/offensive adviser, along with his son, Klint, previously the Broncos’ assistant quarterbacks coach, as Minnesota’s QBs coach, and Brian Pariani as the tight ends coach. 

Vikings offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski will remain in his position.

An earlier report claimed the Vikings were “in play” for Kubiak, who interviewed Monday and had a meeting with the Jacksonville Jaguars scheduled for Tuesday. He’d also drawn interest from the Cincinnati Bengals, who hired Zac Taylor as head coach, and the Atlanta Falcons, who settled on Dirk Koetter as OC. Kubiak was slated to become Denver’s offensive boss under new head coach Vic Fangio. But an eleventh-hour disconnect in philosophy and staff changes — general manager John Elway wanted a new-age scheme, and didn’t want offensive line coach Rick Dennison or Pariani, who he’d fired — prompted the sides to go in a different direction. He had still been contractually bound to the Broncos, but Elway was willing to let him out of the agreement.

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“Well, I think that the two sides met and went over offensive philosophies and who the staff was going to be and things broke down,” ESPN’s Adam Schefter said on 104.3 The Fan. “Now Gary Kubiak is going to Minnesota.”

Kubiak, who retired as Denver’s head man after the 2016 campaign, emerged as a viable coordinator candidate for the league’s coaching cycle, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported last month. His name first made the rounds in November of 2017, when CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora broke the news that Kubiak was open to running an offense, a duty he held on three separate occasions — twice with the Broncos (1995-2002, 2003-05), once with the Ravens (2014).

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Manny Machado has offer from White Sox for 8-year contract

Only a few teams are apparently still in the running for Manny Machado, although the Chicago White Sox have an offer for an eight-year deal on the table for the free-agent shortstop, according to Jeff Passan of ESPN.

However, Bob Nightengale of USA Today reported the White Sox offer hasn’t risen above a seven-year deal.

The Philadelphia Phillies are still engaged with Machado as well, while a third mystery team is also in the hunt.

Both the White Sox and the Phillies have been targeting him throughout the offseason, while each has used personal relationships to try to sway the four-time All-Star.

Philadelphia recently hired former Baltimore Orioles third base coach Bobby Dickerson, who, as Matt Gelb of The Athletic noted, is a mentor to Machado. The two worked together from the time Machado was drafted in 2010 until he was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers last season. Though all the offers aren’t yet known, the White Sox are clearly serious about this pursuit based on the eight-year deal, which would be the longest the organization has ever given out.

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Meanwhile, both teams are reportedly also in pursuit of free-agent outfielder Bryce Harper.

Chicago’s willingness to offer a deal in the 10-year range has been questioned, as the largest contract in franchise history was Jose Abreu’s six-year, $68 million deal. Guaranteeing eight years on Machado illustrates the seriousness of the White Sox in their pursuit, according to sources, and could portend the ability to proffer a decade-long offer — especially if Philadelphia or the supposed mystery team continues engaging with Machado.

Chicago already has traded for first baseman Yonder Alonso, Machado’s brother-in-law, and signed outfielder Jon Jay, a close friend. The transactions by themselves haven’t swayed Machado to deem the White Sox a favorite, but they were strong indications of Chicago’s seriousness about signing Machado.

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Eagles Brandon Brooks tears Achilles tendon

The Eagles started the divisional round game against the Saints off hot, but the Eagles suffered a huge loss prior to the one that ended their season.

The Birds lone Pro Bowl bound offensive lineman, Brandon Brooks, came up lame early in the game with what appeared to be a lower leg tear. He was carted off the field. Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network reported that he is, unsurprisingly, out indefinitely.

Brooks has been on of the Eagles best free agent signings of all time, solidify half of the line between All-Pro center Jason Kelce and the elite Lane Johnson.

Since signing with the Eagles in the 2016 offseason, Brooks has missed few games. When he dealt with his anxiety issues, very publicly, he has missed only two starts. Those are the only two he had missed. He has started the past 40 straight games for the Birds, including playoffs.

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Brooks himself took to Twitter to announce the injury was an ACL tear following the game.

“Wanted to take a minute to thank everyone for the well wishes. Yeah it sucks I tore my Achilles but you know what I look forward to attacking rehab like it’s a game. I look forward to this long journey. God got me and this did nothing but light a fire I needed”

An Achilles tear can take up to 12 weeks to heal, but it is not something that should be rushed. For someone that is 6 foot, five inches tall and weighs 335 pounds, expecting a lower body injury to heal could certainly take the lengthier amount of time in order for Brooks to get back to his former self. Right now, Eagles fans should hope for a clean recovery by Brooks so that the line can return to it’s elite status next season.

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Bregman had surgery, likely ready for season

Astros All-Star infielder Alex Bregman underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right elbow Friday morning to remove loose bodies, Astros president of baseball operations and general manager Jeff Luhnow announced.

The procedure, performed by Dr. Thomas Mehlhoff in Houston, means Bregman will be limited at the start of Spring Training. He is expected to be ready to play prior to the start of the regular season, which begins on March 28 at Tampa.

Bregman, 24, is coming off a career season in which he hit .286 with career highs in homers (31), RBIs (103), doubles (51), walks (96), on-base percentage (.394), slugging percentage (.532) and OPS (.926). He led the Astros in runs, hits, doubles, homers, RBIs, walks and OPS and was named the team’s Most Valuable Player.

He was also named the Most Valuable Player of the All-Star Game after hitting the game-winning homer for the American League.

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Bregman will be “limited” at the start of spring training, according to a statement disseminated Friday morning, but the Astros expect their reigning All-Star infielder to be ready to play prior to opening day against the Rays on March 28.

“It’s a decision that he made together with us to take care of it now,” Luhnow said. “I think he probably could have been fine playing with it this season, but if it became symptomatic this season, we’d be losing games and doing it now allows us to get him back before the season starts.”

Bregman approached the team around New Year’s Day to complain of discomfort, general manager Jeff Luhnow said. The loose bodies were discovered in a doctor visit “a couple days ago,” leading Bregman and the club to make a mutual decision for an operation. If recovery takes longer than planned, Aledmys Diaz could see an expanded role early in the season.

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Panthers’ Thomas Davis looks to play elsewhere in 2019

One of the unfortunate realities of the modern-day NFL is that even the vast majority of all-time great players do not get to play for one team their entire careers. And as such, many great players across the league have brought their playing days to an end elsewhere before being canonized by the teams where their legacies lie.

Bruce Smith on the Washington Redskins. LaDainian Tomlinson on the New York Jets. Jerry Rice on the Seattle Seahawks. And so forth and so forth. Assuming that the Carolina Panthers do not bring back their all-time leading tackler and franchise legend in linebacker Thomas Davis, he could very well have the option of continuing his playing career elsewhere. But for Davis, his legacy – and how wearing a uniform other than the Panthers’ would affect it – is one of the biggest considerations he has to confront as he enters the offseason without a contract for next year.

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“That’s the one thing that I look at that, more so than anything, that would not allow me to go play for another team,” said Davis on Monday of his legacy, as reported by Marcel Louis-Jacques of the Charlotte Observer. “You play somewhere your entire career – that’s special. That means something to me, to be able to say I played all of my career for one team.”

A first-round pick by the Panthers in the 2005 NFL Draft, Davis has played 14 seasons in Carolina and only for Carolina. And in order to play a 15th, Davis is willing to do whatever it takes as far as negotiations are concerned: To that end, he has taken multiple pay cuts throughout his career. Originally, Davis had planned for 2018 to be his final season, which would have guaranteed that he spent his entire career as a Panther. But after he was hit with a four-game suspension to begin the season, Davis backtracked on his original plan out of a desire to not have his career end under those circumstances.

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Browns to name Freddie Kitchens head coach

The Cleveland Browns have apparently decided not to fix something that wasn’t broken. 

Freddie Kitchens, who served as the team’s interim offensive coordinator after the midseason firing of Hue Jackson, will be named the next head coach, a person close to the situation confirmed to USA TODAY Sports on Wednesday.

The person requested anonymity because the Browns had not made an official announcement.

Kitchens assumed OC and play-calling duties, while working under interim head coach Gregg Williams, on Oct. 29. After starting the season 2-5-1 under Jackson, the Browns finished 5-3 under the Kitchens/Williams combo and remained in the wild-card race deep into the season. Per, Williams was relieved of his duties.

Cleveland’s 7-8-1 finish was its best since a 10-6 campaign in 2007.

Perhaps the biggest reason for Kitchens’ promotion was the success rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield had under his tutelage. Over the second half of the season, Mayfield, the top pick of the 2018 draft, completed 68.4 percent of his passes and crafted a 106.2 passer rating. Mayfield’s 27 touchdown passes overall established a new rookie record, breaking the previous mark (26) shared by Peyton Manning and Russell Wilson.

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The next step will be a return to the playoffs, somewhere the Browns haven’t been since 2002 — the longest current drought in the NFL. But with rookies like Mayfield, running back Nick Chubb and cornerback Denzel Ward playing exceptionally well and second-year defensive end Myles Garrett blossoming into a Pro Bowler, the future appears quite bright.

The hiring of Kitchens and Denver’s choice of Vic Fangio means five of the league’s eight head coaching openings have been filled. The Jets, Bengals and Dolphins have yet to make new hires.

General Manager John Dorsey addressed the mystery of Kitchens as a potential head coaching candidate after the season. “I think you got a really good illustration of what Freddie could do in that fourth preseason game. I have always said play calling is an art, not a true science. You have to feel the moment. I think Freddiehas a good feel for that type of thing. What we would like to do is learn a little bit more about Freddie. That is why we are going to sit there and talk to him,” Dorsey said.

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Adam Gase expected to hired as Jets’ Head Coach

After being fired by the Miami Dolphins, the 40-year-old will be hired as the head coach of the New York Jets, per Adam Schefter and Jeff Darlington of ESPN.

Gase produced a 23-25 record in three years with the Dolphins, although things went south in a hurry after they reached the playoffs in his first season with a 10-6 record.

Miami finished 6-10 in 2017 and 7-9 in 2018, including three straight losses to end the year. While injuries to Ryan Tannehill during this stretch didn’t help, the losing seasons were enough for his tenure with the team to come to an end.

There were also questions about his relationship with players, with former stars such as Jarvis Landry and Jay Ajayi appearing happy to see him fired. According to Cameron Wolfe of ESPN, several players in the locker room said they felt “alienated” by Gase. Gase is still highly respected as an offensive coach and has been since his days as a coordinator with the Denver Broncos and Chicago Bears. His 2013 Broncos remains the most productive offense in NFL history with 606 points scored.

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With eight teams replacing head coaches this offseason, it appeared destined that Gase would find a new landing spot.

The Jets ended up winning the sweepstakes as they try to move on from Todd Bowles.

After a down season, they will hope Gase’s offensive prowess will help turn things around in 2019.

The job was widely considered one of the most desirable, in large part due to Darnold, who showed upside in his rookie year. Beyond Darnold and Pro Bowl safety Jamal Adams, the roster needs significant work, especially on the offensive and defensive lines. They can attack the weakness with $100 million in cap room and the third pick in the draft. The Jets conducted at least eight interviews. In addition to McCarthy and Rhule, the Jets met with former Detroit Lions coach Jim Caldwell, Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy, Dallas Cowboys defensive backs coach Kris Richard, Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive coordinator Todd Monken and former Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury, who was hired by the Arizona Cardinals.

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Saunders wins 1st game, T’Wolves top Thunder

Ryan Saunders went right into the fire in his first game as the Minnesota Timberwolves’ interim coach.

His debut was a down-to-the wire finish with the Oklahoma City Thunder, one of the best teams in the Western Conference.

His team came through. Andrew Wiggins had a season-high 40 points and 10 rebounds, and the Timberwolves beat the Thunder 119-117 on Tuesday night.

Saunders deflected credit after the game.

“It’s unbelievable how they stayed connected throughout the whole game,” he said. “Down the stretch, there were so many times where we could have disbanded and then the crowd could have got into us. I can’t say enough about that team.”

Saunders, just 32 years old, is the son of former Timberwolves head coach Flip Saunders. The team fired Tom Thibodeau on Sunday.

The players went all out for their new leader.

“He fed off our energy, and we fed off his energy,” Timberwolves forward Taj Gibson said. “We were just trying to get a win for him.”

Karl-Anthony Towns scored 20 points and Dario Saric added 15 for the Timberwolves. Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook missed two 3-pointers in the closing seconds that would have given the Thunder the lead. He finished with 25 points and 16 assists.

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“We just tried to stay solid, really,” Wiggins said. “We knew they were going to try to be aggressive with either (Paul) George or Westbrook. If we’re going to foul, make a hard foul. And don’t let them hit the 3. That was the main thing.”

George scored 27 points and Steven Adams added 20 points and 12 rebounds for Oklahoma City.

Thunder reserve center Nerlens Noel was taken off the court on a stretcher in the third quarter after Wiggins made contact with him on a dunk attempt.

Noel took an elbow in the face as Wiggins went up, and Noel hit the ground hard. A defensive foul was called on Noel. The play was reviewed, and no additional fouls were called. Noel was down for several minutes before being taken from the court. Thunder coach Billy Donovan said Noel was taken to the University of Oklahoma’s OU Medical Center. “I just tried to make an aggressive move and dunk,” Wiggins said. “He tried to contest it. I think he fell wrong. I didn’t really see it until I saw him on the ground. Hopefully, he’s good. I hope nothing but the best for him. I hope he gets healthy soon and comes back stronger.”

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Cardinals give Kliff Kingsbury four-year deal to be new head coach

Kliff Kingsbury is making the jump to the NFL. 

The former Texas Tech head coach and USC offensive coordinator has agreed to become the Arizona Cardinals’ new head coach

Peter Schrager of Fox Sports first broke the news. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported it’s a four-year deal with an option for a fifth year, and he added there’ll be press conference introducing Kingsbury on Wednesday.

The Cardinals are expected to pay the $150K buyout Kingsbury owes USC for resigning, per Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network. 

It will be Kingsbury’s first NFL coaching gig.

His career began as a player, as he spent four years as a quarterback for Texas Tech and parts of three seasons in the NFL before he played in Europe and Canada.  The 39-year-old then moved into coaching, spending time on the staffs at Houston (2008-12) and Texas A&M (2012) in the college ranks before becoming head coach at Texas Tech.

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In six seasons guiding the Red Raiders, he led the team to a 35-40 record and three bowl games (1-2). 

His tenure ended in disappointment, however, with three straight losing seasons. Kingsbury had just two winning campaigns in Lubbock. 

Nonetheless, he garnered a reputation as a cutting-edge offensive mind, and just over a week after he was fired at Texas Tech following the 2018 season, USC hired him to be its offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. 

With the NFL knocking, though, Kingsbury saw his time in Los Angeles end before it began.  Adding a bright, young offensive mind made sense for the Cardinals, who are grooming Josh Rosen as a franchise quarterback. Kingsbury already worked with players such as Case Keenum, Baker Mayfield and Patrick Mahomes in college and was an NFL quarterback himself, however briefly, so he’ll be expected to get the most out of Rosen.

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