Tagged in: opener

LeBron James, Anthony Davis reassure Russell Westbrook after his struggles as Los Angeles Lakers drop NBA opener

LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook failed their first real test together, a 121-114 loss to the Golden State Warriors on opening night, but they found some common ground.

All three of them have now lost in their Lakers debuts: James versus the Portland Trail Blazers in 2018, Davis versus the LA Clippers in 2019 and Westbrook versus the Warriors on Tuesday.

While James (34 points, 11 rebounds, 5 assists) and Davis (33 points, 11 rebounds, 2 blocks) outperformed Westbrook, who had a team-worst plus/minus of minus-23 in 35 minutes and finished with eight points on 4-for-13 shooting and four turnovers, their bigger impact might have come in the postgame locker room, lifting up their new teammate.

“I told Russ to go home and watch a comedy,” James said. “Do something that can put a smile on his face. He’s so hard on himself. I told him, ‘Don’t be so hard on yourself. It’s one game.'” It was similar to a pep talk James gave to Davis when their first match together in Los Angeles also didn’t go their way.

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“My first time, I sat next to LB, he looked at me, and he said, ‘You’re fine, this is Game 1,'” Davis recalled. “He’s laughing. He’s joking on the phone. And I’m like, ‘Why am I upset then?’ And I kind of just went with the flow. And it’s the same thing with Russ. And I told him the same thing. ‘I’m the same way you were.’ We said some things to him, and he smiled and things like that, so I expect him to be better in the game Friday.”

If Westbrook broke out a grin in the locker room, it was gone by the time he reached the media room for his postgame interviews.

“We talked” was all Westbrook would say about the conversation with Davis and James.

His entire media session lasted less than three minutes as he kept his answers as brief as possible.

James, who has often stated that experience is the greatest teacher, was hopeful that Westbrook would glean some perspective from the ordeal.

“I just don’t want him to be so hard on himself,” James said. “That was the one thing that I hoped to get through to him, don’t be so hard on himself. Go home and you’re going to see three babies that he has that might be asleep, but they’ll put a smile on his face. He has a beautiful wife and family. So at the end of the day, you go home and you’re really like, ‘OK, that was not that bad. It’s really not that bad.'”

Lakers coach Frank Vogel acknowledged the tricky spot Westbrook finds himself in.

“Him more than anybody, it’s going to be an adjustment period,” Vogel stated. “He’s coming into our culture, our system. He’s the new guy, and he’s got to find his way. It’s difficult, when you’re used to being the guy who has the ball most nights, to be able to play off of others like Bron and AD. So it’s just a little bit different for him. He’s going to be great for us, but it’s going to be an adjustment period.”

While Westbrook looks to grow within the group, James is urging him to be the player he was before he came to Los Angeles — an uber-confident nine-time All-Star, Olympian and former league MVP.

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Rashod Bateman to undergo groin surgery, may miss Baltimore Ravens’ season opener on Monday Night Football

Baltimore Ravens first-round pick Rashod Bateman will have surgery on his groin this week and could miss the start of the season.

“He’ll be back from that sometime in September,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said after Thursday’s practice. “I think that’s pretty good news.”

Bateman’s surgery likely jeopardizes his availability for the Ravens’ season opener on Sept. 13, when they play at the Las Vegas Raiders on Monday Night Football. Baltimore then hosts the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 2 (Sept. 19) before traveling to face the Detroit Lions in Week 3 (Sept. 26).

Bateman tweeted later Thursday that he will “be back soon.”

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Bateman, who was projected to be among Lamar Jackson’s top three wide receivers, injured his right groin Tuesday while making a cut against cornerback Marcus Peters in a one-on-one drill.

Harbaugh stated Wednesday that Bateman was expected to miss “a number of weeks.”

The No. 27 overall pick, Bateman was one of the biggest offseason additions to a Ravens receiver group that totaled the fewest catches (137), receiving yards (1,729) and first downs (83) in the NFL last season.

Bateman is the fourth Baltimore wide receiver to miss multiple practices leading up to Saturday’s preseason opener versus the New Orleans Saints, joining Marquise “Hollywood” Brown (hamstring), Miles Boykin (hamstring) and Deon Cain (undisclosed). Brown, who hasn’t practiced since July 29, has been running off to the side and appears to be close to returning.

The Ravens’ only three healthy wide receivers who have caught a pass in the regular season are Sammy Watkins, Devin Duvernay and James Proche. Watkins is the only one with more than 20 career receptions.

Bateman had no history of injuries in his three seasons at Minnesota, where he played every game in 2018 and 2019 before opting out after five games last campaign.

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Washington Nationals to open season vs. Atlanta Braves on Tuesday

The Nationals will start their season on Tuesday by hosting the Atlanta Braves after Major League Baseball postponed Monday’s opener of the teams’ three-game series because of a coronavirus outbreak that involves 11 of Washington’s players.

Four Nationals players have tested positive for COVID-19 over the past week and are isolating, while another seven are under quarantine because contact tracing determined they might have been exposed to the virus.

Washington general manager Mike Rizzo said earlier Sunday that none of those 11 — a majority of whom, although not all, were supposed to be on the Opening Day roster — would be available if the three-game set with Atlanta start Monday.

Rizzo has not publicly identified any of the players involved or the two staff members who also have been placed under quarantine due to possible exposure.

Washington has yet to play this season; its opening three-game series at home versus the New York Mets on Thursday, Saturday and Sunday was postponed.

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“Believe me, we’re in constant contact with MLB,” Rizzo said in a video call with reporters Sunday afternoon, while he was still awaiting a decision about Monday’s game.

Rizzo has been adamant that Washington would need to be able to hold team workouts before facing an opponent.

Pitchers were able go to Nationals Park one by one on Saturday and Sunday to throw bullpen sessions.

“Position players haven’t worked out in a week. And pitchers haven’t thrown any competitive pitch in that same period of time. It’s something that we’re taking very seriously here. We’re thinking of creative ways under the protocol and under the guidance to get these guys as ready as possible,” Rizzo said.

“It makes a lot of sense for baseball, player protection-wise, to have these guys go through their paces in a full workout before we take the field,” he added.

The reigning National League East champion Braves are 0-3, coming off a season-opening sweep in which they managed to score a total of three runs at the Philadelphia Phillies.

Braves manager Brian Snitker stated Sunday afternoon — before MLB’s ruling arrived — that he was going to assume his club would be playing Monday until he heard otherwise.

“This is the COVID era. Everything’s fluid,” Snitker said.

The Nationals and Braves are now slated to face each other Tuesday and Wednesday. The 2019 World Series champions, who tied for last in the division last season, then would have Thursday off before heading out for a trip that is to start Friday at the Los Angeles Dodgers.

MLB did not announce when the first four games on Washington’s schedule will be made up.

Rizzo said the four players who tested positive are “feeling much, much better,” adding that any symptoms that appeared earlier have subsided.

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