212

Rockets defy critics and stick to the plan in Game 2 win

The call came in a little after 1 a.m. early Tuesday morning. PJ Tucker saw the caller ID and shook his head. James Harden was calling to talk about the Houston Rockets’ demoralizing loss to the Golden State Warriors in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals on Monday. Tucker wasn’t sure if the MVP front-runner was calling to vent or cheer him up. Either way, he was in no mood.

“I was so mad I didn’t answer the phone,” Tucker told ESPN on Wednesday night after the Rockets righted the ship to win Game 2 127-105 and salvage a split on their home court. “James was mad I didn’t answer. But it wasn’t one of those where we had to talk it out. We all knew what happened.new nike nfl jerseys for sale cheap

“We played like the Rockets tonight. The first game, I don’t know who that was.”212

To a man, the Rockets insisted they didn’t change their approach in Game 2 after being criticized for playing such an isolation-heavy game Monday night. If anything, they seemed to double down on that approach and way of being Wednesday night. They just did it a whole lot better.

Houston’s passing in Game 2 led to much better shots than it did in Game 1. On Wednesday, for example, the Rockets created 12 uncontested 3-point shots off assists and made six of them. In Monday’s loss they created only five uncontested 3-pointers off assists and made two of them.

“I had better opportunities. We moved the ball better. Everybody was knocking down shots. Once we do that, how can you stop us?” said Rockets guard Eric Gordon, who scored 27 points including six 3-pointers Wednesday.

“I think this game was a matter of the Rockets bringing the force that’s necessary to win a game and we didn’t,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “We had seven turnovers in the first quarter. We set the tone early with our own play, and allowed them to get some confidence and some easy buckets in transition. We let guys get going.

“We got what we deserved. They kicked our butts. No other way to say it.”cheap nfl jerseys nike china

The only Warrior who seemed to be sharp Wednesday was Kevin Durant, who basically carried his team when nobody else could hit a shot or find a rhythm. Durant had a game-high 38 points on 13-of-22 shooting, but noticeably no assists as the Rockets forced him into isolation situations and decided to live with the results so long as he didn’t get anyone else involved.

211

Stephen Curry: Warriors need more aggressiveness, discipline on D

The Rockets targeted Curry on 23 possessions in Game 2, the most he has been targeted in a game this postseason, as they routed the Golden State Warriors 127-105 on Wednesday night to even the series at one game apiece. He was the primary defender on 20 plays in Game 1.

According to Second Spectrum, Curry defended 15 isolation plays in Game 1 and 13 in Game 2. nfl replica jerseys cheap Both were more than he had defended in the past four seasons, regular season and playoffs.

“They made shots,” Curry said about the Rockets’ high point total. “We were just a step slow on our rotations and our switches. Guys got into the paint. We know their M.O. is isolation, trying to get dribble drives, get the ball in the paint. … We’ve got to respond with some more aggressiveness and more discipline on the defensive end.”

Asked about how relentlessly the Rockets are zeroing in on Curry, coach Mike D’Antoni said, “It’s obviously one of our things we like to do.”

In the series, James Harden and Chris Paul are consistently calling for screens from the teammate Curry is guarding to get the two-time MVP to switch onto them. Once Curry switches to the primary ball handler, the Rockets attempt to penetrate to the basket.211

Houston shot 7-of-15 from the field on those 23 possessions Curry was the primary defender. Curry was beat off the dribble frequently and too often allowed Harden to drive to his stronger left side.

“We were trying to be too cute with our [defensive] exchanges and our switches and all that stuff instead of just manning up and playing one-on-one defense,” Curry said. “Whether they score or not, as hard as we’re working on the defensive end, they’re working as hard on the offensive end to get shots up. That was the difference between Game 1 and Game 2. They made a concerted effort to turn those one-on-one situations into a little bit more ball movement, and we were just a step slow, myself included.”

Many are questioning whether Curry is fully healed from his left knee injury that forced him to miss five weeks.new nike nfl jerseys for sale cheap

“I physically feel fine,” he told ESPN. “I’m playing without really any limitations so I can just go play basketball.”

190

Young Finland defenseman Heiskanen eyes NHL

The talented defenseman opened it at the junior world championship in Buffalo before becoming a mainstay on the Finnish men’s national team at the next two top tournaments: the Pyeongchang Olympics and the ongoing world championship.

In that time the 18-year-old has established himself as a reliable defenseman who has passed the test against top NHL talents at the tournament in Denmark. He plays in the top unit, meaning he has to stop the offensive aces of the opposition and that’s exactly what he has done.

NHL leading scorer Connor McDavid could attest to that.nike football nfl jerseys

On Saturday, Finland upset star-studded Canada captained by McDavid 5-1 and Heiskanen contributed a great deal.

He played 18:25 but his best moment came in the middle period when Canada was trailing 3-1 and desperately pressing to score. At one point, McDavid had just an empty net in front of him. Goaltender Harri Sateri was still at the far post and McDavid’s shot from the left circle was heading for goal.

But then Heiskanen came seemingly out of no where to Finland’s rescue, tipping the puck to safety.190

”It was almost in the net but I hit the puck,” Heiskanen said. ”It was a good save.”

When the two met in the third period, the result was a two plus two-minute penalty for high sticking for a frustrated McDavid, effectively ending Canada’s chances of a comeback.

Finland captain Mikael Granlund praised Heiskanen.

”I have seen him at the games here and nothing really surprises me about him,” Granlund said. ”The way he skates, the way he handles the puck and sees the ice. He can play these games. He’s been really, really good this tournament. He’s got a great career ahead of him.”

The obvious next step is the NHL.

The Dallas Stars picked him with the third overall selection in the 2017 NHL draft and signed him to a three-year entry level contract. He spent last season on loan with IFK Helsinki where he played since he was 17.cheap nfl throwback jerseys

He finished with 23 points including 11 goals in the regular season and added three goals and nine points in the playoffs.

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Brandon Drury reinstated from DL, assigned to Yankees’ Triple-A team

The Yankees reinstated Brandon Drury from the 10-day disabled list Monday and assigned him to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, meaning rookie Miguel Andujar likely will remain New York’s starting third baseman.

The 25-year-old Drury, who started seven games at third base for the Yankees to begin the season, nfl authentic jerseys cheap went on the DL on April 7 because of migraine headaches and blurred vision.

Andujar, 23, has started the bulk of games at third base in Drury’s absence, batting .282 with three home runs and 14 RBIs.

In his 20-day rehab assignment that ended Monday, Drury batted .315 with two home runs and seven RBIs in 67 plate appearances.165

The Yankees acquired Drury in February from the Arizona Diamondbacks in a three-team trade that also involved the Tampa Bay Rays.

Andujar is among a wave of players who have sparked the Yankees to a 28-12 record, tied with AL East rival Boston for the best in the major leagues.

New York has 13 pitchers on its roster, leaving room for just three bench players. The current backups are catcher Austin Romine, infielder Ronald Torreyes and infielder-outfielder Tyler Austin. The Yankees start a trip Tuesday at Washington.

With Scranton off Monday, the Yankees transferred the rehab assignments of first baseman Greg Bird (right ankle surgery on March 27) and outfielder Billy McKinney (left shoulder sprain on March 31) to Double-A Trenton.customized nfl jerseys cheap

Neil Walker, originally envisioned as mostly a second baseman when the Yankees signed him in March, has played mostly at first in the absence of Bird. Gleyber Torres, a touted 21-year-old prospect, made his major league debut April 22 and has become the starting second baseman. He is hitting .319 with three doubles, three homers and 12 RBIs.

262

Battle ready: Big leaguers logging long hours on Fortnite

David Price and the Boston Red Sox are feeling every bit at home at the Flush Factory. And in Houston, George Springer and the Astros are just as likely to be talking Boogie Bombs as balls and strikes.

Why is Xander Bogaerts making an L with his fingers and dancing on second base? chinese nfl jerseys nike Who’s the Ninja on Phil Hughes’ Twitter feed? What’s with Derek Fisher and llamas?

Just like gamers everywhere, major leaguers have fallen hard for the Fortnite craze. And while it’s not how John McGraw would teach teamwork, Port-a-Forts and Slurp Juice may be the biggest thing bonding some big leaguers.

”We play all day, every day,” Springer said.262

Fortnite Battle Royale is perhaps the world’s most popular video game, and baseball players are among its most voracious players. The game pits up to 100 competitors in a last-man-standing scenario, letting them mine materials from an ever-shrinking map while hunting down enemies with a variety of weapons. Working in teams is often critical, which is how the World Series champion Astros ended up with a 12-man crew which plays almost nightly at the team hotel on the road.

Springer and Houston’s other outfielders have even been celebrating victories by performing dances from the game – the trio forms a circle, throws their hands in the air and quickly moves their feet, a move Fortnite apparently adapted from an episode of Seinfeld.

Bogaerts was doing something similar on opening day, celebrating a double by doing the “Take The L ” dance – a popular Fortnite taunt.

The Red Sox have a Fortnite squad that covers an array of ages.cheap chinese authentic nfl jerseys The 32-year-old Price was a little late to the game – he heard teammates talking about it near the end of spring training and privately tested it out before trying to break into the team’s Playstation rotation. He practiced a bit with J.D. Martinez, a former Tigers teammate who signed with Boston as a free agent this winter, then got into melees with reliever Carson Smith.

251

Rubio’s triple-double leads Jazz past Thunder 115-102

Rubio, who never reached the playoffs in his first six seasons with Minnesota, had 26 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists for Utah’s first playoff triple-double in 17 years to help lead the Jazz to a 115-102 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Saturday night.

”We were down by 10 … and I just changed my mentality, buy nfl jerseys wholesale trying to be more aggressive and make some shots,” Rubio said. ”We made a run and it helps a lot when you’re making shots and it felt great.”

At one point, Rubio walked toward half-court with his arms outstretched, drinking in the deafening roar and subsequent ”RU-BI-O! RU-BI-O!” chants from the fans.

The Spaniard has previously recorded five triple-doubles in his career and has played in big EuroLeague and Olympic games, but different than the energy and pressure of the NBA playoffs.

”He was on, in so many ways,” Mitchell said.251

Joe Ingles, who had 21 points, made two 3-pointers around two free throws to spark a 13-0 surge that ended on Mitchell’s 3 to put Utah up by 20 points in the fourth quarter. The big run was just par for the course in a series characterized by large runs by one team, then countered by the other.

Rubio’s triple-double was the first by a Jazz player in the postseason since John Stockton in the 2001 playoffs against Dallas.

”Having my name next to his name is an honor,” Rubio said of joining the Hall of Famer in making franchise history. ”I have huge respect for him.”

Paul George scored 23 points and Carmelo Anthony, Russell Westbrook and Raymond Felton each had 14 for the Thunder. Westbrook also had 11 rebounds and nine assists, just missing his ninth playoff triple-double but also had eight turnovers and shot 5 for 17.

Rudy Gobert’s dunk and pair of free throws capped a 9-0 run in the third quarter to give Utah an 84-70 lead. nike official nfl jerseys Minutes later, Rubio hit a running 28-foot 3-pointer to make it 89-75 entering the final period.

The Jazz changed coverages on Westbrook throughout the game and surprised the perennial All-Star with different players in his expected passing lanes.

Utah also outrebounded the Thunder 48-33 and seemed much quicker to the loose balls in the midst of a charged atmosphere. The Jazz’s hustle plays energized the packed arena festooned in the colors of Southern Utah – red, orange and yellow.

238

Eagles in discussions about White House visit

The Philadelphia Eagles have received an invitation to visit the White House following their Super Bowl LII championship and are discussing how to move forward.

“We have been in contact with White House representatives and are currently discussing the logistics of an upcoming visit to Washington,nfl authentic jerseys cheap ” the Eagles said through a team spokesman. “We are honored to receive this invitation and view this not only as an opportunity to be recognized for our on-field achievements, but also as an opportunity to engage in productive dialogue with the leaders of our country.”

Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins, defensive end Chris Long and former wide receiver Torrey Smith — now with the Carolina Panthers — are three of the Eagles players who have said they would not attend if an invitation was presented.238

“I don’t want to take away from anybody’s experience or make it a big distraction. It’s a celebratory event, and I want the guys who choose to go or whatever to enjoy that,” Jenkins said in February. “Me personally, because it’s not a meeting or a sitdown or anything like that, I’m just not interested in the photo op.

“Over the last two years, I’ve been meeting with legislators, both Republican and Democrat, it don’t matter. If you want to meet to talk about events in my community, changing the country, I’m all for that. But this isn’t one of those meetings, so I’ll opt out of the photo opportunity.”

Added Smith: “Going to the White House should be seen as an honor, and I believe it is an honor, but to me it has to be an honor with the right type of respect in office. I just don’t see it.

“It’s not about politics; I just don’t think the president is a good person. nfl jersey wholesale I don’t want to go out of my way to go see someone who isn’t even welcoming the men in this locker room and our different cultures.”

The timing of White House visits for Super Bowl-winning teams has varied over the years. The New England Patriots’ visit last year was announced in late March and occurred on April 19.

226

Auston Matthews answers the Bruins, his critics

William Nylander, with his sights fixed on a specific corner of the net, crisply sending seam pass on a diagonal to his preferred target: the stick of Auston Matthews.

But there was nothing ordinary about the latest execution nfl dog jerseys cheap of play-maker setting up sniper in the attacking zone. Never was it so … volcanic.

Matthews exploded once he double-checked the puck was indeed rattling inside the Boston Bruins’ net — and that he hadn’t suffered a Kasperi Kapanen-like fate. Partly because it had a hand in saving the Toronto Maple Leafs’ season with a goal that stood as the eventual winner in Game 3 and helped cut his team’s deficit in the series to 2-1.

Matthews couldn’t veil his frustration after Game 2 when he was asked if he could have possibly imagined being without a point over a two-game span that saw his direct competition — Boston’s No. 1 line of Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak — combine for 20 themselves.

Matthews wouldn’t deny that he wanted to prove a point in the Maple Leafs’ return to Air Canada Centre, nor that he felt he did with a goal which — like the thick layer of ice that has coated the city over the last few days — tested the building’s engineering.226

But it was head coach Mike Babcock that hinted to the fact that his captain-in-waiting, still just 20, was personally affected by the criticism he received for his showing in Games 1 and 2.

“When you’re my age, social media doesn’t even really affect your life. When you’re his age, it affects your life. You know what people are saying,” Babcock said, later qualifying that his comments were made with a measure of speculation.

“Tonight was a huge weight off his shoulders,” Babcock added. “Instead of thinking about all that stuff, it will come natural to just get playing again.”

It was the right scorer converting at the perfect moment for the Leafs.

Like they had throughout the first two games of the series, the Bruins seem to have an answer for everything again Monday. First it was Adam McQuaid’s blast sneaking under the pad of Frederik Andersen to erase James van Riemsdyk’s icebreaker, nfl official jerseys cheap the later Zdeno Chara’s goal to wipe out Patrick Marleau’s first postseason marker as a Leaf.

But it was Matthews’ goal, the product of Toronto’s stars exacting a measure of revenge on Boston’s with a sustained bout of possession in the offensive zone, that seemed to instil the confidence his teammates needed to survive the waves of return pressure.

190

With Eric Kendricks done, more Vikings in line for extensions

As the first domino to fall in a line of upcoming contract extensions, Minnesota Vikings linebacker Eric Kendricks set into motion a official nfl jerseys cheap tricky test for Minnesota’s front office to keep the roster together in coming years

Kendricks was the first Viking with a contract due to expire in 2019 to receive an extension. His new deal is worth $50 million over five years with $25 million guaranteed, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Pro Football Talk is reporting that Kendricks is to earn $15 million in Year 1, $22.5 million over the first two years, $31.5 million over three years, $40.5 million over four and $50 million over five.

Kendricks, who was to make $1.64 million this season, is now in an elite class of inside linebackers making $10 million or more per season, joining Luke Kuechly ($12.4 million), Bobby Wagner ($10.7 million) and Alec Ogletree ($10.5 million).190

The Vikings had $17.8 million in available cap space prior to Kendricks’ deal, according to the NFLPA’s daily report. With a handful of needs to be addressed in the draft next week, Minnesota shifts focus to the other prominent players scheduled to become free agents after this season: linebacker Anthony Barr, wide receiver Stefon Diggs and defensive end Danielle Hunter. The Vikings also have until May 3 to exercise the fifth-year option on cornerback Trae Waynes’ rookie deal.

Getting deals done for all four will be difficult given the Vikings’ restraints on future cap space. Kendricks’ cap figure in 2018 will be considerably higher than it was before the extension, and though it might not present any issues right now, available spending in 2019 is a completely different story.

General manager Rick Spielman has said the Vikings plan their cap out two years at a time, which is why the franchise felt it was able to give Kirk Cousins a three-year, nfl authentic jerseys fully-guaranteed deal worth $84 million. Getting creative with deals in the future will be critical as they work to keep their foundational pieces.

With one of those key defensive pieces in the fold, here’s a look at which Viking might be next to receive an extension.

188

Eagles’ Carson Wentz says watching Super Bowl LII was a ‘challenge’

Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz acknowledged that it was “a challenge” to watch Super Bowl LII from the sidelines, calling it a lesson in humility and faith during a media session Tuesday to mark the start of the team’s offseason training program.

One minute Wentz was a top candidate for league MVP,wholesale nfl jerseys and the next he was out with a season-ending knee injury that shifted him into a support role while his backup, Nick Foles, helped deliver the city of Philadelphia its first Lombardi Trophy.

His relationship with Foles, though, helped ease the sting, he said, and should make for a less awkward situation as Wentz takes the reins back from the Super Bowl MVP.

“You’ve got to fight that,” said Wentz, speaking about any pangs of jealousy that came with Foles’ accomplishments in his stead. “It’s human nature to want to be on that podium and be that guy. You grow up wanting to do that as a kid, but to not be able to be up there, I would not rather have anyone else be up there than Nick.”188

Wentz has been making strides in his recovery from a torn ACL and LCL in his left knee, which he suffered against the Los Angeles Rams in December. He is in the “running progression” stage of his rehab and is “feeling good with where I’m at.” The target date for his return remains Week 1 of the regular season.

Should Wentz reach that goal, Foles will return to his role as the Eagles’ No. 2 quarterback, barring a trade. He recently expressed the desire to be a starter again during an interview with a Texas ABC affiliate while also highlighting the positives of remaining with the Eagles for another season.

“We love Philly. nfl jerseys from china I know there was some stuff going around [about] a possible trade, and I would love the opportunity to be a starter again,” Foles said. “I know my spot in Philly. I think I’ve shown what I can do. I’m signed for one more year and I love the team, I love the city. I’m excited for Carson to get back on his feet. I’ll be ready to go whenever they need me. But we’ll see; just living in the moment.”