Tagged in: houston

Ty Lue candidacy for Rockets job gains momentum after monday meeting

Clippers assistant coach Ty Lue’s candidacy for the Rockets’ head-coaching job has gathered significant momentum after a meeting with Houston’s ownership and management Monday, sources told ESPN.

The Rockets are competing with the Clippers for Lue and could try to extend an offer before Los Angeles has completed its search process, but that isn’t likely to happen before Houston meets with former coach Jeff Van Gundy this week, sources said.

Both Lue and Van Gundy are prominent parts of the Rockets’ and Clippers’ coaching searches — and Lue has been the Clippers’ front-runner since Doc Rivers was dismissed on Sept. 28, sources said.

Lue’s candidacy has the support of prominent players on both teams, sources said. Houston had originally wanted to hire Rivers to substitute Mike D’Antoni, sources said, but his talks with the 76ers moved quickly to a resolution.

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Van Gundy, currently an analyst for ESPN, has been a favorite of Rockets ownership and management, and he is known to prefer the idea of coaching in his adopted home city to avoid uprooting his family.

Van Gundy, 58, has been active as a coach with USA Basketball in recent years, but he hasn’t coached in the NBA since the Rockets fired him in 2007.

Van Gundy was 430-318 in the regular season and 44-44 in the postseason in parts of 11 seasons with Rockets and Knicks.

Lue coached the Cavaliers to the only championship in franchise history in 2016 and reached the NBA Finals in three consecutive years. He was fired by Cleveland after an 0-6 start in the 2018-19 campaign. Lue is 128-83 overall and 41-20 in the playoffs.

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Dustin Johnson out of CJ Cup due to covid

No. 1-ranked Dustin Johnson has withdrawn from this week’s CJ Cup at Shadow Creek in Las Vegas after testing positive for COVID-19.

Johnson, according to the PGA Tour, was experiencing symptoms, prompting him to take a test. Players are tested prior to travel each week and on site as part of the PGA Tour’s coronavirus testing protocols.

“Obviously, I am very disappointed,” stated Johnson, a 23-time PGA Tour winner who took the Tour Championship and thus the FedEx Cup title last month.

“I was really looking forward to competing this week but will do everything I can to return as quickly as possible. I have already had a few calls with the tour’s medical team and appreciate all the support and guidance they have given me.”

According to David Winkle, Johnson’s agent at Hambric Sports, the golfer took an on-site test Sunday that was negative. But he started feeling symptoms Sunday night, stayed away from the course Monday and didn’t feel better Tuesday, so he took a test that came back positive.

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Because the symptoms started Sunday, it is possible that Johnson could return at next week’s Zozo Championship as long as his symptoms have subsided.

He would not be able to practice on site prior to the tournament.

Johnson has not played since he finished tied for sixth at the U.S. Open last month. It is also possible he could play at the Houston Open the week before the Masters, which is Nov. 12-15.

Johnson has been one of the most consistent players in the game of late, tying for sixth in his last start at the U.S. Open, winning the Tour Championship, finishing second at the BMW Championship, winning the Northern Trust and tying for second at the PGA Championship.

He will be among the favorites at the Masters next month. Johnson becomes the second player in straight weeks to test positive for COVID-19.

Tony Finau withdrew from last week’s Shriners Hospitals for Children Open due to a positive test. He also withdrew from the CJ Cup field and has been substituted  by Robby Shelton.

The PGA Tour has had a successful return to competition following a 13-week shutdown because of the coronavirus pandemic. Johnson is the 15th player who the tour has announced as having tested positive. Prior to Finau, two players tested positive at the U.S. Open, but there had been a six-week stretch of no positive cases before that.

J.T. Poston was the first alternate and replaces Johnson in the 78-player field.

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Houston Texans’ Benardrick Mckinney expected out for season

The Houston Texans inside linebacker corps has taken a hit to its leadership and on-field ability.

According to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle, Pro Bowl inside linebacker Benardrick McKinney will undergo shoulder surgery, which will keep him out for the rest of 2020. The club is expected to place McKinney on injured reserve.

The former 2015 second-round pick from Mississippi State was unavailable for the Texans’ 30-14 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 5 at NRG Stadium. McKinney was given the questionable designation on the Friday before the AFC South showdown but was unable to play after being a game-time decision.

McKinney’s season presumably ends with four games, all starts, and 37 combined tackles with one tackle for loss and a pass breakup.

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In McKinney’s absence versus the Jaguars, former 2016 undrafted free agent Tyrell Adams opposite Zack Cunningham provided 13 combined tackles, a tackle for loss, and a fumble recovery in his lone start of the campaign, playing 89% of Houston’s defensive snaps, while inside linebacker Dylan Cole did not play a defensive snap.

“T.A., he stepped in and made some plays,” interim coach Romeo Crennel stated. “So, that’s the name of this business, the next guy up. We tell them that all the time that they have to be ready when their number is called and yesterday the guys whose numbers were called, they performed well.”

McKinney, who had 37 tackles in four games, is playing on a five-year, $50 million contract extension he signed in 2018. McKinney was drafted by the Texans in the second round in 2015. He has 11.5 career sacks, 530 tackles and four forced fumbles.

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Lakers run past Rockets for 3-1 West semifinals lead

Anthony Davis was the biggest player on the floor, and the Houston Rockets had no answers.

Davis had 29 points and 12 rebounds, LeBron James concluded one assist shy of a triple-double and the Los Angeles Lakers topped the Rockets 110-100 on Thursday night to take a 3-1 lead in their Western Conference semifinal series.

James had 16 points, 15 rebounds and nine assists for the Lakers, who outrebounded the Rockets 52-26. Alex Caruso scored 16 points and Rajon Rondo had 11 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists for the Lakers, who held on after frittering away most of a big second-half lead.

“Turnovers,” Davis stated. “We had too many turnovers.”

That was one of the few complaints the Lakers could make after Game 4. Russell Westbrook had 25 points and James Harden had 21 for the Rockets, who got 19 from Eric Gordon and 14 from Austin Rivers.

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The Lakers were up by 23 midway through the fourth, well on their way to a blowout victory.

That’s when Houston’s offense woke up.

Westbrook made a corner 3 with 3:01 left, Harden got a steal and a pair of free throws on the next possession, and the Rockets put together a 18-2 run to get within 103-96. The Lakers turned the ball over on four consecutive possessions during that stretch, unable to get anything going.

Smartly, though, on the biggest possession of the night as the clock ticked inside the two-minute mark, they went to Davis. Gordon, who stands about half-a-foot shorter than Davis, had no opportunity as the Laker All-Star scored in the lane to push the lead back out to nine and buy the Lakers a bit of breathing room.

Caruso’s 3-pointer off a pass from James with 34.6 seconds left made it 108-100, and the Lakers escaped.

The Lakers won Game 3 by holding Houston to 38 points in the second half — and set themselves up to win Game 4 by clamping down again, this time in the first half. It was 57-41 Lakers at the break, meaning Houston had scored 79 points in its last 48 minutes of basketball.

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Jadeveon Clowney signs with Titans

Jadeveon Clowney made clear for months he wanted to be with a team that can win a Super Bowl, and he’s finally made his choice even if he didn’t get the long-term deal in the process.

The Tennessee Titans announced Sunday they agreed to terms with the three-time Pro Bowl linebacker on a one-year contract. The Titans did not reveal the terms Sunday. But ESPN.com reported the deal could be worth up to $15 million.

The No. 1 overall pick of 2014, Clowney went into free agency looking for a mega-contract that never came calling. The pandemic shut down travel for physicals, and Clowney didn’t visit anybody once the NFL permitted free agents to meet teams in person.

Clowney spent most of his career with the Houston Texans before being traded to the Seattle Seahawks before the 2019 campaign. He hit free agency this past spring and came to an settlement with the Titans nine days before their 2020 season opener.

They play the Denver Broncos on Monday Night Football in Week 1.

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Since 2016 according to Sportradar, only Aaron Donald and Chandler Jones have combined for more tackles for loss, forced fumbles and quarterback pressures than Clowney who has 60 tackles for loss, eight forced fumbles and 159 total pressures.

Clowney, 27, is rejoining coach Mike Vrabel.

They worked together for three seasons in Houston when Vrabel was the defensive line coach. One of those years, Clowney reached the Pro Bowl after he had 59 tackles, 21 tackles for loss and 9.5 sacks.

Vrabel and the Titans reached the AFC championship game in 2019 and lost to the eventual Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs. In six NFL seasons, Clowney has 236 tackles, 71 tackles for loss and 32 sacks.

The three-time Pro Bowl selection was one of the biggest stars left in the free agent market ahead of the 2020 season openers. He is coming off a core injury that required offseason surgery.

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Rockets’ Mike D’Antoni: Russell Westbrook’s quad healing, but still no timetable for return

Houston Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni still uncertain of when or if All-Star guard Russell Westbrook will be available during the team’s first-round series versus the Oklahoma City Thunder.

D’Antoni said before Tuesday’s 123-108 Game 1 victory that Westbrook’s strained right quadriceps is healing, but the team does not have a specific timetable for his return.
“Can’t rule anything out, but don’t rule anything in,” D’Antoni said.

“He’s getting a lot better,” D’Antoni said. “The good news: it’s healing. We’ll just have to wait and see. I really don’t know at this point. Can’t rule anything out, but don’t rule anything in.” Westbrook was programmed to undergo an MRI on Tuesday, and the results were not immediately revealed.

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Westbrook, who was a late arrival to the NBA’s Walt Disney World Resort campus because he tested positive for COVID-19, felt soreness in his right quadriceps after the Rockets’ loss to the Portland Trail Blazers on Aug. 4.

He sat out the next two games because of a right quad contusion, according to the team.

Russ’s absence will be a tough one for the Rockets to cope with. His ability to use dribble penetration and generate open 3-pointers for others on the team is unparalleled across the NBA. The Rockets rely on heavy doses of 3-point shooting.

Westbrook played 28 minutes in Houston’s Aug. 11 loss to the San Antonio Spurs, recording 20 points, 5 rebounds and 6 assists. The Rockets revealed the next day that an MRI had revealed that Westbrook had a strained muscle in his quad.

A nine-time All-Star acquired in a blockbuster trade with the Thunder last summer, Westbrook has averaged 27.2 points, 7.9 rebounds and 7.0 assists per game in his first season with the Rockets.

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McCullers throws 7 scoreless, Astros beat Giants 6-4

Lance McCullers Jr. pitched no-hit ball into the seventh inning, Michael Brantley and Carlos Correa drove in two runs each and the Houston Astros snapped a five-game skid with a 6-4 victory over the San Francisco Giants on Monday night.

McCullers (2-1) bounced back from one of the worst performances of his career with a gem where he permitted one hit and struck out five in seven scoreless innings. The 26-year-old tied a career high by allowing eight runs in just 3 2/3 innings of a 14-7 loss at Arizona his last time out.

His only hit Monday came to 15 games with a grounder down the third base line that rolled just out of reach of Alex Bregman for a double with one out in the seventh.

The Astros got back in the win column a day after an ugly 7-2 loss to the Athletics that was marred by a benches-clearing fight that could lead to the suspension of hitting coach Alex Cintrón.

Cintrón was yelling at Oakland’s Ramón Laureano before the A’s outfielder charged Houston’s dugout, leading to the team’s second such incident this season after the Astros also got into with the Dodgers. San Francisco rookie starter Logan Webb (1-1) permitted four hits and five runs — only two earned because of two errors — in 3 1/3 innings.

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The Giants got things going on offense after McCullers left the game. Austin Slater had a solo shot off Josh James that made it 6-1 in the eighth inning.

Solano chased James on an RBI double with no outs in the ninth.

Ryan Pressly retired the next two batters before the Giants cut it to 6-3 on a run-scoring single by Brandon Crawford. Slater hit an RBI single before Pressly retired pinch-hitter Evan Longoria to get his first save.

Bregman was by Solano’s throw home while trying to score on Yuli Gurriel’s grounder in the third. The ball bounced off Bregman, glanced off catcher Chadwick Tromp’s mask and rolled away, allowing Bregman to score.

McCullers, who missed last season after Tommy John surgery, retired his first six batters before plunking Slater on the leg to start the third inning. He helped himself out with a nifty defensive play to end that inning when he ran to cover first base on a grounder hit by Mike Yastrzemski, made an off-balance catch and tagged Yastrzemski before falling to the dirt.

Martín Maldonado snapped a 0-for-13 slump when he connected off Conner Menez for a solo homer to the seats in right field to start Houston’s sixth and make it 6-0.

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Derrick Henry, Titans reach agreement on 4-year deal

The Titans waited until the 11th hour, but they’ve secured their rushing king.

Tennessee agreed to terms with running back Derrick Henry on a four-year deal worth $50 million right before Wednesday’s deadline, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported. The team later confirmed it reached a long-term agreement with the RB.

Henry signed his franchise tag tender less than a month after the Titans formally placed it on him before the start of free agency, but that one-year contract that was arranged to pay him $10.3 million will become moot upon signing the new, multi-year deal.

“I want to stay with the Tennessee Titans,” Henry said, via the team website. “They are the ones that took a chance on me – 31 teams passed on me on the draft and they selected me. I have a lot of love for Tennessee. I have a lot of love for everyone in that organization.

“And we have grown from the time I got there. (In 2016) we just missed the playoffs, (in 2017) we got into the playoffs and went into the second round. This year we went to the AFC Championship. We have grown as an organization and as a team and I think that speaks volume for the direction we’re headed.”

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Henry rumbled to the league’s rushing title in the final week of the 2019 season, capping a 1,540-yard, 16-touchdown campaign with a dominant 211-yard outing in a playoff-clinching Week 17 victory over Houston.

He proved his worth in the postseason, putting Tennessee’s offense on his back to help the Titans to two stunning playoff victories.

Henry rushed 64 times for 377 yards and one touchdown in Tennessee’s upset victory over New England and Baltimore before coming back to earth in an AFC Championship Game loss to Kansas City.

Henry’s 69-yard outing in the conference title game wasn’t his fault, but a result of a Titans offense trying to keep pace with the Chiefs’ explosive group and being forced to turn away from the run. It definitely wasn’t indicative of his value; without Henry, the Titans simply do not reach the doorstep of the Super Bowl.

As of July 2020, it is wise for the Titans to do what they must to keep Henry, the strongest part of their offense for almost the entirety of his career — even if it took Tennessee two years to realize it.

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Tim Jernigan says deal with Texans off, still free agent

The Houston Texans deal with veteran defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan, Jr. has actually fallen apart. 

According to a source, Jernigan is healthy but both sides have opted to move in different directions allowing the veteran to find a new team for 2020.

The team will continue to look for defensive line depth heading towards the regular campaign

Jernigan despite reports saying he struck a deal with the Texans was never placed on the roster on the team’s website. Cornerback Bradley Roby is still waiting for his deal to become official, his name is not with the team roster at this point either.

The Texans reached a verbal agreement with Jernigan on April 1st but could not close the deal due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Texans could not get Jernigan in for a physical due to travel controls and the NFL closing down the facilities to take a look at players. 

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The team acknowledged the signing of Jernigan during the off-season and head coach Bill O’Brien called the signing of the veteran defensive tackle, “a big get for us to be able to bring Timmy Jernigan onto our roster.”

The deal with Jernigan was a one-year deal worth $3.75 million with $1.25 million guaranteed according to his agent Bill Johnson.

Timmy Jernigan has been known as a run-stuffer since arriving at the league in 2014 with Baltimore. He has made his way in the NFL that way with Philadelphia but 2019 was littered with injuries. 

The Texans drafted defensive tackle Ross Blacklock in the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft out of TCU helping bring in much-needed youth to their defensive front. The Texans are expecting Blacklock to be part of their defensive line rotation during his rookie campaign. 

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