Monthly Archives: November 2017

Cheap Authentic NBA Houston Rockets Jerseys

HOUSTON — After rolling through the first quarter and building a sizeable lead over the Brooklyn Nets, James Harden said the Houston Rockets’ momentum was interrupted by something they hadn’t seen in a long time — a zone defense.

In Houston’s 117-103 win over Brooklyn, Harden scored 20 of his 37 points in the first quarter. When he took a break with 1:28 remaining in the first quarter, he was outscoring the Nets 20-17 by himself, not to mention four assists at that point. He was 5-for-5 from 3-point range in the first quarter and finished 8-for-13.

But when Brooklyn went to a zone defense for the first time all season, Harden said the Rockets had to make adjustments.

“They went zone, and it kind of threw us for a loop,” Harden said. “We weren’t making shots. That zone kind of messed us up a little bit.”

Nets coach Kenny Atkinson likened Houston’s hot start to a hurricane and said the Rockets hit them with a one-two punch, going up 43-26 after the first.

“When they scored 43, it was like, `We’ve got to do something different, guys,” Atkinson said. “They still scored a lot of points, but it helped slow them down and at least made them pause and made them think a little.”

Harden added 10 rebounds and eight assists to guide the Rockets to their fifth straight win. Despite the string of blowout victories, Harden said it’s easy to stay self-critical and focus on improving, while Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni said he’s staying on top of his team.

“The mentality of, ‘I’m going to play well all the time,’ that’s utopia, that’s not possible,” D’Antoni said. “So I just cry around and moan around for a while, but I’ll be all right. I’ll get over it.”

Clint Capela added 20 points for Houston, and Chris Paul had a season-high 14 assists on “Chris Paul Bobblehead Night” at the Toyota Center.

“We’ve got to keep getting better, especially, defensively,” Paul said. “We can’t just always rely on our offense. But we’ll take the wins. Every game is different, but right now, we’re just trying to pile up the wins.”

For the Nets, Isaiah Whitehead led scorers with 24 points, matching his career high. The Brooklyn native, who was called up from the G-League on Monday morning, shot 10 of 16 from the field.

“I was just staying ready to take opportunities and doing well with them,” Whitehead said. “I’ll stay ready throughout the year, and hopefully, I’ll get more chances.”

Spencer Dinwiddie had 14 points, Caris LeVert had 13 and Sean Kilpatrick added 12. Coming off of a 98-88 win in Memphis on Sunday night, Brooklyn has lost four of its last five.

Houston led 66-55 at halftime and entered the fourth quarter with a 16-point lead.

TIP-INS

Nets: Forwards DeMarre Carroll (upper respiratory condition) and Allen Crabbe (lower back soreness) were both out. … Quincy Acy had seven points in 20 minutes after missing the previous two games by coach’s decision.

Rockets: Houston was without two of its big men — veteran center Nene was inactive with a strained right shoulder, while rookie center Zhou Qi had a sore left calf. . The Rockets have won 10 of their last 11 meetings at home against Brooklyn.

STICK TO BASEBALL

Houston Astros pitcher Lance McCullers, who won Game 3 of the 2017 World Series on his way to earning a ring, was the celebrity guest as part of Houston’s “First Shot” promotion featuring a local celebrity shooting a pregame free throw for a chance to earn a $5,000 donation from the Rockets to charity. Despite strong form, McCullers’ shot rattled in and out, still earning a $1,000 donation to charity.

DANGER ZONE

On trying out a zone defense for the first time this season, Atkinson said it was an idea he’s mulled before but never followed through. “I’ve always thought about it, but I’ve never had the guts to try it.”

ANOTHER ONE

 

The Rockets hit 20 3-pointers against Brooklyn, marking their fifth straight game of recording 18 or more 3-pointers made. No other team in NBA history has such a streak that lasted longer than two games. Houston has shot 40 percent from 3-point range in four of its past five games. The Rockets are 26-1 when shooting 40 percent or better from beyond the arc under D’Antoni.

CP3′S CLEAN PLAY

Paul didn’t have a turnover, marking the eighth time in his career he has recorded 14 or more assists without a turnover, all coming since the start of the 2008-09 season. No other player has more than five games of doing so.

UP NEXT

Nets: Visit Dallas on Wednesday night.

Rockets: Host Indiana on Wednesday night.

Check out the team sites for the Brooklyn Nets and the Houston Rockets for more game coverage.

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The front office of the Baltimore Orioles is conducting “an ongoing debate” as to whether they will move third baseman Manny Machado to shortstop next season, reports Hall of Fame writer Peter Gammons.

Rumor CentralThe Orioles might be hesitant to make a long-term commitment to Tim Beckham after acquiring the 27-year-old from the Tampa Bay Rays at the July 31 deadline. Beckham, who will enter arbitration for the first time this winter, hit .394 with a 1.062 OPS in August, but those numbers slipped to .180 and .603 in September.

A two-time Gold Glove winner and five-time All-Star, Machado has played the bulk of his career at third base, although he was used briefly at shortstop in 2015 and 2016.

“Many feel that Machado prefers shortstop, and with a huge free-agent deal on the horizon [after next season], Machado might put up a monster year at a middle-of-the-field position,” suggests Gammons.

Cheap Authentic NBA Boston Celtics Kyrie Irving Jerseys

BROOKLYN, N.Y. — Boston Celtics guard Kyrie Irving expressed frustration with the clear protective mask that he wore while returning to game action Tuesday night but said it was still a better option than the black one he once used during a memorable performance here in New York.

Irving overcame his frustrations Tuesday to score a team-high 25 points on 8-of-20 shooting as the Celtics won their 13th straight game 109-102 over the Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center.

Irving famously scored a then-career-high 41 points against the New York Knicks while wearing a black mask in December 2012. Irving soon changed to a clear fitted version in the aftermath.
Kyrie Irving is expected to remain in the clear mask for the next couple weeks, including Thursday’s showdown with the Warriors in Boston. Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports
Irving was aware that social media was clamoring for a return of the black mask but playfully detailed why it was better to stick with a clear one to protect the facial fracture he suffered when a teammate elbowed him last week.

“I was telling some of my teammates, some of the fans, too, they were asking me whether I was going to wear the black mask. The difference with the black mask is that (teammates are) not getting the ball because I couldn’t see outside of my eyesight,” Irving said to laughter.

“(Teammates were) like, ‘Oh, the Masked Man! The Black Mask! I scored that many (points for Cleveland) because I was just looking at the basket. So a lot of my peripheral vision and driving, I could only see what’s in front of me. That black mask, like, it just takes away your vision. So I’m just like, ‘Oh, basket.’ Like, this is just the best-case scenario. So that’s the whole black mask thing.

“I’m glad I get to wear a clear one. I’m telling (teammates), like, ‘Come on, show some gratitude. I’m showing gratitude, too, for not wearing that black mask.’ So, yeah, hopefully a few more weeks in the (clear) mask and I’ll be out of it.”

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Irving repeatedly wrestled with the mask Tuesday, fidgeting with the straps at times while dribbling up the court and removing it completely during almost every dead-ball situation. When he missed a layup while being fouled on a late first-half drive, Irving angrily pried it off his face.

Asked after the game how his face was feeling, Irving deadpanned, “It’s broken. That’s that.”
He initially brushed aside a question about the discomfort, saying simply, “It is what it is.” But he eventually relented and said that the mask makes things difficult for him.

“It’s almost like having somewhat foggy blinders on,” Irving said. “When I take off the mask, I can see everything. And when I have the mask on, I’m really dialed into what’s in front of me. My peripherals are a little cut off, up and down. It’s something to get used to.”

Irving suffered a facial fracture when he was inadvertently elbowed by teammate Aron Baynes on Friday night. Irving sat out Sunday’s win over the Toronto Raptors before returning on Tuesday night.

Irving is expected to remain in the mask for the next couple of weeks, including Thursday’s showdown with the visiting Golden State Warriors.

Cheap NHL Los Angeles Kings Womens Jerseys 2017

Few things felt permanent about the first month of the season. A few weeks ago, the Toronto Maple Leafs seemed unstoppable; now a parade down Yonge Street sounds like a punch line again. The typically disciplined Pittsburgh Penguins are among the league leaders in both penalty minutes (13.3) and goals allowed (3.6) per game. Scoring is at a torrid pace overall and goals are coming in bunches; the 16 hat tricks so far are the most to start a season since 1996-97.

Whether any of these trends have staying power, however, remains unclear.

A few developments that began brewing during the first month do look likely to stay hot, however. Here are four early-season storylines that definitely will stick:

Claude Giroux is sticking at left wing

The Philadelphia Flyers captain is coming off a disappointing 2016-17 season. Still hampered by the effects of hip and abdominal surgeries he had undergone the previous May, Giroux scored just 14 goals last season. Since posting 86 points in 2013-14, he has finished with 73, 67 and 58 points, respectively. Giroux, who will turn 30 in January, needed to change something about his game to reverse that trend of declining production.

This past offseason, the Flyers’ coaching staff hatched a crazy idea: What if Giroux switched positions? He was a winger before he turned professional, but he has played center almost exclusively for Philly. During a preseason game, the Flyers had Giroux line up on the left side of center Sean Couturier and right winger Jakub Voracek.
A position change proved to be just the tonic Claude Giroux needed to find his scoring touch. Nick Turchiaro/Icon Sportswire
It might have been a surprise move, but it wasn’t a flip decision.

“A lot of discussion went into it,” said Flyers coach Dave Hakstol. “We knew where [Giroux] was at, in terms of being at a high level coming into the season, and we decided to take a look at it. It made sense for our team, but it also made sense for G and for Cout and for Jake. They’ve all worked very hard to make it a very productive line.”

The preseason experiment was so successful that they carried it over to the regular season — and now, a month in, the line is clicking on all cylinders. It’s hard to imagine Hakstol reversing course. Through the first 15 games, each player on the line has at least 17 points. Giroux has eight goals, which is more than halfway to his entire total for 2016-17. Is Hakstol surprised?

“Honestly, I know it’s cliché,” the coach said. “But nothing surprises me with G.”

The Kings are sticking around the top of the standings

Before the season, I asked a handful of players what team might surprise everyone and make a deep playoff run. One veteran from a Western Conference team barely hesitated before blurting his answer. “The [Los Angeles] Kings,” he said. “Definitely the Kings.” Why was he so sure? “They’ve been there before,” the player said. “And they pretty much have the same players. Sometimes you get a fresh face with a coach, and it changes things.”

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That’s exactly what has happened under John Stevens. The Kings have essentially the same roster as they did in 2016-17. That team finished fifth in the Pacific Division at 39-35-8, leading many to wonder if this was the last hurrah for a roster filled with bloated contracts. Not quite. Stevens has brought a more up-tempo style, and the Kings have responded, recapturing some of the magic from their recent Stanley Cup teams.

With seven goals already, captain Anze Kopitar should match his entire total for last season (12) sometime this month. Goalie Jonathan Quick is again playing out of his mind (8-2-1, .939 save percentage and 1.99 goals-against average). Los Angeles, with 22 points in its first 14 games, has recaptured dominance in the Pacific Division.

Charlie McAvoy is sticking it to opposing forwards as the next elite D-man

The Boston Bruins rookie was a popular preseason Calder Memorial Trophy pick. McAvoy has been a lot more than that one month into the season. The 20-year-old Boston University product leads the Bruins in assists (seven) and trails only his defensive partner, Zdeno Chara, among Boston skaters in ice time per game (22:56). The duo is tasked with shutting down the top lines.

The reason the Bruins are relying on McAvoy so heavily: their blue line has been battered by injuries. Torey Krug missed time to start the season, while Adam McQuaid is out an extended period after surgery to repair a broken right fibula. McAvoy’s workmanlike play will be a crucial bridge for a team with an identity crisis. Boston’s roster is a blend of aging veterans who helped win the Stanley Cup in 2011 and a crop of youthful players that the front office is ushering in.
Winnipeg’s Connor Hellebuyck has been one of the league’s best netminders this season, and leads all goalies in even-strength save percentage. Bob Frid/Icon Sportswire
Connor Hellebuyck is sticking as Jets’ starter in goal

The Winnipeg Jets are a Western Conference sleeper, and Hellebuyck is a large reason. The 24-year-old goaltender has been fantastic, posting a 8-0-2 record, with a .936 save percentage and a 2.12 GAA. Hellebuyck’s terrific play has covered up other deficiencies that Winnipeg is working through. The Jets’ puck-possession numbers are among the league’s worst. And Patrik Laine would be the first to admit that he’s not off to a great start. But Hellebuyck is.

It’s wild to think that this past offseason the Jets signed Steve Mason to a two-year, $8.2 million deal to be their No. 1 and staunch their goaltending woes. But ever since Mason allowed 11 goals in his first two starts, this has been Hellebuyck’s job.

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LOS ANGELES — The pitching matchup for the first-ever World Series Game 7 at Dodger Stadium will pit a brash 24-year-old son of a major leaguer versus a veteran trade acquisition who has spent just three months in a Dodgers uniform.

Lance McCullers Jr. will take the mound for the Houston Astros, while the Dodgers will go with Yu Darvish. Both are hoping to rebound from rocky performances earlier in the World Series.

Darvish quickly exited the clubhouse after the Dodgers’ 3-1 win in Game 6 on Tuesday night, before the rest of his teammates had even finished showering; but McCullers went out to right field and played catch, going through his pitches as fans were still exiting the ballpark.

“I was in the bullpen toward the end; that’s why I had to throw on the field postgame,” McCullers said. “Just because I hadn’t thrown yet, because I was hot and ready to go, if the situation came up where they needed me.”

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L.A. worked its sixth-inning magic again, handing Justin Verlander his first loss as an Astro to even the World Series and set up a dramatic finale.

Gurriel booed by L.A. fans over racist gesture
Dodgers fans let it be known they were unhappy with Astros slugger Yuli Gurriel over his racially insensitive gesture toward Yu Darvish by booing him during pregrame introductions and his plate appearances during Game 6.
McCullers started Game 3 of the World Series, but he struggled with his command, walking four batters and giving up three runs in 5⅓ innings, before eventually getting credit for the win in Houston’s 5-3 win. He said that experience would help in Game 7.

“I learned I wasn’t very sharp,” he said after Game 6. “I knew that early, though. So I knew it was going to be a grind for me pretty much the whole outing, which it was. This is a very good hitting team. They’re patient, but they’ll make you pay for mistakes. So I have to go out there and just execute my game plan. And I need to execute a little better in certain spots.”

The Astros’ plan is to have everyone available behind McCullers, which means Game 6 starter Justin Verlander could pitch and Game 5 starter Dallas Keuchel will definitely be ready to go in the bullpen.

“I think all of our guys will have the adrenaline on their side,” Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. “They are all going to be ready.”

Verlander will be a game-time decision as to whether he can give the Astros a batter or, maybe in the extreme, an inning. He threw 93 pitches in Game 6 and said he will play catch before Game 7 to evaluate how his right arm feels.

“I think it depends on when I get to the ballpark,” Verlander said. “I’ll throw the ball and see if I’m available or not.”

Keuchel, who started Game 5 on Sunday in Houston, will be available probably for 30 or 40 pitches. Normally during the season, after two days’ rest, Wednesday would be his throw day. Keuchel would not put a pitch limit on how much he could be used.

“It’s Game 7,” Keuchel said. “I’ll empty the tank.”

2017 MLB Postseason
Keep up with the latest as baseball’s top teams contend for the title.

• Ultimate playoff guide » | WS Picks »
• Dodgers beat Astros’ best, force Game 7 »
• The inning that won Game 6 for L.A. »
• Verlander falls just short in Game 6 »
• Your moment-by-moment WS MVP »
• Is the World Series baseball too slick? »
• Insider: Projections » | Player ranking »
• Schedule » | Complete coverage »
The Astros didn’t use relievers Brad Peacock, Will Harris or Chris Devenski in Game 6. With two days of rest, those three are expected to be fully available. Ken Giles, Houston’s struggling closer, also didn’t pitch in Game 6, but it would seem unlikely that Hinch would go to Giles, unless he was forced to by the game’s circumstances.

Darvish also struggled in Game 3, with both fastball command and the grip on his slider, and lasted just five outs as the Astros pounded him for six hits and four runs. He threw 49 pitches in the outing and induced just two swings-and-misses out of 26 total swings. In the second inning, the Astros hit seven line drives — two of them hard outs — off him.

After Game 6, Darvish addressed his Game 3 performance.

“After the first two games, I heard that Keuchel and Verlander were talking about the ball was flying, and I knew that,” Darvish said. “But before the bullpen on toward the third game, I threw a bullpen session with a regular-season ball. I didn’t really realize until I got to the mound, and I knew that my slider wasn’t breaking and sharp. And after the game, I came back and I realized that my slider, I couldn’t finish my pitches. I couldn’t get that final touch. And then it just didn’t make sense.

“And then I read about the ball being slick. And I really didn’t know if it was my physical thing and mechanical adjustment that I had to make or the ball. I can’t really say it. But that’s it. And I just need to learn from it and go tomorrow night.”

Darvish did use a World Series ball in his bullpen session before Tuesday’s game and said his slider was “better.”

Should Darvish struggle in Game 7, the Dodgers could go to their ace, Clayton Kershaw. Kershaw was in the bullpen in Game 6 and will definitely be down there again in Game 7.

“Same thing as tonight,” Kershaw said after Game 6. “I’ll be in the bullpen and ready to go in the first inning. Whatever they need.”

Kershaw joked that he could give the team 27 innings. He would be pitching on two days of rest after throwing 94 pitches in Game 5, when he allowed six runs in 4⅔ innings.

If Kershaw makes an appearance, it would present a scenario similar to that of the 2014 World Series, when Madison Bumgarner started Game 5 for the San Francisco Giants and then threw the final five innings in relief in Game 7 as the Giants beat the Kansas City Royals 3-2 for the title; or that of last season’s World Series, when Jon Lester started Game 5 for the Cubs and then threw three innings and 55 pitches in Chicago’s Game 7 victory over the Cleveland Indians.

Brandon Morrow has appeared in all six World Series games for the Dodgers, but he threw just 14 pitches in Game 6.

Kenley Jansen threw two innings Tuesday but retired all six batters he faced while throwing an efficient 19 pitches.
Considering the quick hooks that manager Dave Roberts has employed all postseason with his starters, the expectation is that Darvish probably won’t pitch deep into Game 7, so the Dodgers will probably use some combination of Kershaw, Morrow and Tony Watson before going to Jansen.

Kenta Maeda has thrown 81 pitches since Game 3, so he would be on a very short leash to face a right-handed batter or two.

Darvish went five-plus innings and 6⅓ innings in his two starts in the National League Division Series and NL Championship Series, throwing 74 and 81 pitches while allowing one run in each game, both of which were victories.

“We’re the two best teams in baseball,” McCullers said. “I think that has been solidified by how amazing this Series has been. And I expect all of our guys to come to the park ready to win tomorrow, just like I would expect all of them [the Dodgers] to come into the park ready to win tomorrow. Which is what I think is what makes this Series so great, is you’ve got two teams with a bunch of dogs in the clubhouse. No one is afraid to back down. And I expect a great Game 7.”