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Domantas Sabonis had barely settled into his seat on the bench when coach Nate McMillan looked his way.

When Myles Turner picked up two early fouls Jim McMahon Jersey , Sabonis was pressed into duty much earlier than usual.

”By the time my heat packs came I had to go in, and I was like, `Uh oh,”’ Sabonis said with a laugh.

But the 6-foot-10 forward from Lithuania responded with a career-high 30 points, helping the Indiana Pacers beat the Charlotte Hornets 123-117 on Sunday to keep alive their slim hopes of winning the Central Division title.

Victor Oladipo had 27 points on 12-of-15 shooting and Lance Stephenson, a former Hornet Jeremiah George Jersey , had 10 rebounds, 10 assists and eight points for the Pacers, who have won seven of their last nine games.

Sabonis said he feels comfortable in the Pacers’ system, where he is playing more center than he did earlier in the season.

”I love it here,” Sabonis said. ”It’s a great system. We have a great group of guys who believe in it and we all want to win so that’s been working for us.”

McMillan said Sabonis has been solid all season, whether it has been in a starting role or reserve Marquez Valdes-Scantling Jersey , or playing the four or five position.

”He does a good job of getting the offense moving from side to side,” McMillan said. ”He’s made good decisions out there when he’s played.”

For Indiana (48-33) to win the Central and earn home-court advantage for the first round of the NBA playoffs, it needs to beat Charlotte on Tuesday night and have Cleveland (49-31) lose its final two games against the New York Knicks. The Pacers have the tiebreaker advantage over the Cavaliers after taking three of four in the season series, including a 124-107 win in November.

The Pacers jumped out to a 70-57 halftime lead after shooting 67 percent from the field, including 6 of 9 from 3-point range.

Charlotte rallied in the third quarter, but the Pacers took over and quickly built a 20-point lead even with Oladipo on the bench with four fouls.

Indiana shot 54 percent from the field for the game.

TIP INS

Pacers: Stephenson wore gold-colored shoes. … Glenn Robinson III and Cory Joseph each had 13 points as the Pacers’ reserves outscored the Hornets’ backups Trey Burton Jersey , 72-60.

Hornets: Kemba Walker didn’t score until there was 5 minutes left in the second quarter and finished with 12 points. … The Hornets honored play-by-play announcer Steve Martin, who is retiring after 30 seasons with the franchise.

NO QUIET MONK

Malik Monk is finishing his rookie season with a flurry. After scoring a career-high 26 points in his previous game, Monk led the Hornets with 22 against the Pacers.

”I’ve been watching Kemba a lot when I was sitting on the bench so I’ve been learning everything he’s been doing and I’ve been trying to do that when I stepped on the court,” Monk said.

Monk has improved in the pick-and-roll game.

”Almost all of his baskets were off pick and rolls and it’s not just his scoring,” Hornets coach Steve Clifford said. ”The thing he’s doing better is making plays for other people. That to me is as much of an indicator as anything of the growth he has made in terms of learning how to play.”

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED

McMillan said one of the team’s goals this season was to finish above .500 on the road. It finished 21-20 in such games.

UP NEXT

Pacers: Host Hornets on Tuesday.

Hornets: Visit Pacers on Tuesday.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers ranked last in the league in sacks last season with just 22 sacks in 2017. They were three sacks behind the next closest team in the Indianapolis Colts. As the Buccaneers look to correct that major deficiency heading into their 2018 campaign, many factors are looked at by coaches and players alike as they search for ways to bolster their output.

Buccaneers defensive end William Gholston had zero sacks last season. It was the only time in his five-year career that he failed to register a quarterback sack despite playing in 14 of 16 games. Gholston decided to look inward as he attempts to ensure that won’t happen again.

According to Jenna Laine of ESPN.com Adrian Amos Jersey , Gholston told new defensive line coach Brentson Buckner that he felt he played with too much weight last season.

“I felt like I got a little too big last year,” Gholston relayed to Buckner.

“He’s actually 15 pounds lighter right now,” Buckner said. “He’s been working to evolve himself mentally, too. Because the hardest thing you can do as a player is to look at [yourself] and be critical of [yourself].”

Gholston signed a five-year contract extension with the Buccaneers last year just before reaching free agency. He’s appeared in 71 career games and recorded 224 tackles, 10 sacks and two forced fumbles.

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huangjian123 Yesterday, 02:58AM
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BEREA http://www.buffalobillsteamonline.com/micah-hyde-jersey , Ohio (AP) Joel Bitonio’s sliding only a few feet to his left, but it’s a seismic shift for him – and the Browns.

Less than one week into Cleveland’s training camp, coach Hue Jackson moved Bitonio from left guard to starting left tackle, a spot vacated when 10-time Pro Bowler Joe Thomas retired in March.

Only days ago, offensive line coach Bob Wylie said switching Bitonio this summer to left tackle was plan ”Z.”

Well, the Browns went through the alphabet in a flash.

”I’m going to put the best five players out there,” Jackson said following Wednesday’s practice. ”We know he’s one of the best left guards in football. He has the versatility to go out there and play, and me knowing Joel, he’s a team guy. I had a really good conversation with him, we’re going to do everything we can to continue to address that position.

”Right now, I think he gives us the best chance to go out there and play tackle and solidify the offensive line right now.”

Cleveland’s initial plan was to bring Shon Coleman, who started 16 games at right tackle last season, to the left side. However, the former third-round pick has struggled so far in camp and Jackson decided he couldn’t wait any longer to see if Coleman would improve.

Another option was Greg Robinson Josh Ferguson Jersey , a former No. 2 overall draft pick. But he’s out with a concussion and there’s no timetable on when he’ll be back.

So after talking things over with his staff, Jackson approached Bitonio, who told his coach he do whatever was best for the Browns.

”I want to help the team win, and coach Jackson wants to put the best five offensive linemen out on the field,” Bitonio said. ”Right now, he thinks that’s with me at left tackle. So I’m going to try to be the best left tackle I can be, and if something happens where I’ve got to go play left guard again, then I’ll try to be ready to do that as well. It’s just what’s going to help our team win the most games.”

Bitonio’s spot will be taken by rookie Austin Corbett, who got a brief look at left tackle in camp.

”He’s our next-best guard on our team,” Jackson said.

The 6-foot-4, 315-pound Bitonio has made 47 career NFL starts at left guard since the Browns drafted him in 2014. He played one year of left tackle in college at Nevada, but Bitonio said the new position is a new world.

And while he’s willing to make the move, he’s also reluctant.

”It is an unknown,” he said. ”You are always scared of the unknown. I don’t know how it is going to go at left tackle. I kind of know how it is going to go at left guard. I am going to go out there and give it my best shot.”

On the edge Nathan Peterman Jersey , Bitonio will face taller, faster players in single-minded pursuit of the quarterback.

”You are in space a lot more,” Bitonio said. ”It is definitely a different animal, and you are on an island by yourself. Sometimes, the whole line goes that way and you are stuck there blocking one of the best pass rushers on the team. It is just a different animal and it is something that I have to learn. Playing guard, I kind of knew the nuances of the position, and I knew if this guy does this or this guy does this, you understand what is going to happen. At tackle, I am still trying to develop that as we go through camp.”

Luckily, or unluckily for Bitonio, he’ll get to practice at his new position against speedy defensive end Myles Garrett, the No. 1 overall pick from last year.

Jackson was pleased that Bitonio more than held his own against Garrett on Wednesday.

”I did not look over there and see a whiff or a guy just bearing down on the quarterback,” Jackson said. ”I have great confidence in Joel. He is one of the best players on our football team. He can do it.”

Even when the NFL isn’t bringing attention to the anthem issue, the President will continue to talk about it.

That’s what he did on Friday morning. Asked by FOX News Channel whether any players have accepted the President’s offer to consider whether any people who have been treated unfairly by the justice system should be pardoned or have their sentences commuted Darrell Green Jersey , the President gave an answer — and more.

“No, I haven鈥檛 heard,” he said, via Kyle Griffin of MSNBC. “You know, they鈥檙e all saying, 鈥極h, it has nothing to do with the flag, it鈥檚 the way we鈥檝e been treated.’ In the meantime, they鈥檙e making $15 million a year.”

It’s a brilliant sleight of hand, because part of what he said is accurate. The players definitely are saying, “It has nothing to do with the flag.” But the players definitely aren’t saying, “It’s the way we’ve been treated.”

The players inclined to protest during the anthem are promoting a cause far bigger than themselves. They are concerned about the manner in which American citizens making far, far less than $15 million per year (then again, most NFL players are making far Quinton Dunbar Jersey , far less than $15 million per year) are treated by police officers and by the justice system.

The President downplays the concerns by pretending that the concerns relate only to multi-multi-millionaires. That’s just not the case, and no fair-minded person can reasonably see it that way.

“Look, I鈥檓 all for the athletes,” the President added. “I think it鈥檚 great. I love athletics, I love sports. But they shouldn鈥檛 get the politics involved.”

The players didn’t get politics involved. The NFL got the flag involved by forcing the players to leave the locker room for the anthem, and the NFL then got politics involved by giving players the right to protest during the anthem.

Then, politics got involved in football when the President said he’d like to see an NFL owner respond to a protesting player by saying, “Get that son of a bitch off the field. He’s fired!”

The President closed with a reiteration of a broad statement that applies not only to the players but to everyone else in the venue.

“When you鈥檙e in a stadium and they broadcast that national anthem, you鈥檝e got to stand,” the President said. “And you鈥檝e got to be proud and you鈥檝e got to have your hand up and you鈥檝e got to do everything that鈥檚 right.”

We’ll see if the people who are quick to denigrate those who choose to protest are willing and able to adhere to the same standard, and we’ll see whether the President suggests that those folks maybe should live in a different country, instead of the country that ostensibly gives all citizens the freedom not to stand during the anthem.

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huangjian123 Yesterday, 02:53AM
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Coach Adam Gase's new backup quarterback in Miami is his former backup quarterback in Denver.

Brock Osweiler signed a one-year contract Friday with the Dolphins to provide veteran insurance behind Ryan Tannehill Sean Taylor Jersey , who is coming back from two knee operations.

Gase was an assistant with the Broncos when Osweiler was a young reserve for them in 2012-14. Osweiler went 0-4 as the Broncos' starter last season and has 25 career starts in six NFL seasons.

With the Dolphins he replaces Matt Moore, a free agent after seven years as their backup quarterback. Despite adding Osweiler, the Dolphins will consider drafting a quarterback next month.

Tannehill is expected to return after missing all of the 2017 season, but he has twice had surgery since his most recent game.

The Dolphins made two other moves to upgrade their offense. Five-time Pro Bowl running back Frank Gore finalized a deal with his hometown team after agreeing to terms Thursday. Tackle Sam Young agreed to terms on a one-year contract to remain with the Dolphins, two people familiar with the negotiations said.

Gore, who turns 35 next month, has rushed for 14,026 yards to rank fifth on the all-time list. He spent the past three seasons with the Indianapolis Colts, and ran for 961 yards last season.

Young Josh Sitton Jersey , an eight-year NFL veteran, started six games at right tackle for the Dolphins last year after Ja'Wuan James was hurt. He's expected to be James' backup again this season.

Paul Guenther is installing a new defense for the Oakland Raiders with the most important part of the unit missing.

Star pass rusher Khalil Mack remains away from the Raiders in a contract dispute this offseason while Guenther works on rebuilding a defense that has been one of the league’s worst for more than a decade.

”He’s going to have a lot of catching up to do,” Guenther said Tuesday.

”We’re going to have to have a plan for that for sure. I’m really concerned about the guys that are here now working. These guys have been busting their tails every day. Coming in early. Meeting with the coaches. Being great in the meeting rooms. Communicating on the field.”

Mack, the 2016 AP Defensive Player of the Year, is entering the last year of his rookie contract that pays him $13.85 million this year and is seeking a long-term deal that will make him one of the most highly compensated non-quarterbacks in the NFL.

Mack has missed the entire voluntary portion of the offseason and has not indicated whether he plans to report for next week’s mandatory minicamp or risk fines of more than $80,000.

Guenther’s focus now is on the defenders who are at practice this offseason.

”I’m trying to get the guys that are here better,” he said. ”These guys have been busting their tails, trying to get better. Trying to make the team. There’s some guys out there that I really think have a lot of uncovered ability.

”We’re trying to get it out of them to understand, `Hey Ryan Kelly Jersey , you might not be a 60-snap-a-game guy. You might be a 15 snap-per-game guy, do the best job in your role and how you can help us win.”’

Guenther was one of Jon Gruden’s first hires after being brought back for a second stint as coach in Oakland back in January and immediately given a tough task.

The Raiders defense has consistently been one of the league’s worst the past 15 years under coordinators Chuck Bresnahan, Rob Ryan, John Marshall, Jason Tarver, Ken Norton Jr. and John Pagano.

Oakland ranks last in the NFL in takeaways and points allowed in that span, second worst in yards allowed per game and third worst in sacks as the unit has struggled consistently from the front seven to the secondary.

Guenther’s defenses in Cincinnati have been some of the best in the league during his time as coordinator there.

”Paul Guenther’s defense, it’s very aggressive,” new middle linebacker Derrick Johnson said.

”So many different looks. The onus is really on the linebackers to learn a lot of stuff. That’s good for myself because I know a lot. It’s putting a lot of pressure on me to learn it quickly.

”Learn it well enough where I can put my own flavor in making plays on this defense. I’m having fun with it now. The last couple of days have been my best days Aaron Lynch Jersey , running around. … Once you can get it down really well, you’ll look a lot faster out there on the field. We all can run fast and jump high, but mentally, once you got it down, all your abilities, your talents can show out there on the field. That’s what we’re doing right now. We’re not there yet, but we’re getting there.”

Last year was particularly bad when the Raiders became the first team to fail to intercept a pass for the first 10 games of the season and had just 14 takeaways all season.

To change that, the Raiders have made significant changes in personnel this offseason, bringing in Johnson to anchor the middle of the defense along with new linebackers Tahir Whitehead and Emmanuel Lamur; drafted Maurice Hurst Vernon Davis Jersey , P.J. Hall and Arden Key to boost the pass rush; and signed defensive backs Rashaan Melvin, Daryl Worley, Marcus Gilchrist and Leon Hall.

Oakland is also hoping to get a boost with healthy seasons from last year’s top two picks, cornerback Gareon Conley and safety Obi Melifonwu, who were limited to 127 defensive snaps as rookies because of injuries.

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huangjian123 Yesterday, 02:46AM
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The San Francisco 49ers started free agency Wednesday by getting some needed help for quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo Tarell Basham Jersey , agreeing to a four-year contract with versatile running back Jerick McKinnon and a five-year deal with interior offensive lineman Weston Richburg just after the start of the new league year.

The two deals fill holes on the roster with McKinnon expected to replace departing starter Carlos Hyde and Richburg able to step in immediately as the starter either at center or guard.

The team also agreed to a three-year deal to keep linebacker Brock Coyle, who started 10 games last season before undergoing offseason shoulder surgery.

General manager John Lynch said McKinnon and Richburg were both high on the team's priority list in free agency and he was glad to be able to lock both of them up as soon as the new league year started.

"We see Weston as one of the top young interior offensive linemen in the NFL," Lynch said. "His athleticism, intelligence and attitude are a perfect fit for our scheme. Jerick has proven to be an extremely versatile football player whose speed, elusiveness and tackle-breaking ability make him a very difficult matchup for defenses. We can't wait to get them on the field with their teammates and coaches later this spring."

McKinnon spent four years in Minnesota, mostly as a backup, after being drafted in the third round in 2014 out of Georgia Southern. He has rushed for 1,918 yards with an average of 4.0 yards per carry, has 142 catches for 984 yards, and has scored 12 touchdowns.

McKinnon had his most productive season last year Sean Taylor Jersey , when he ran for a career-high 570 yards while setting personal bests with 51 catches for 421 yards.

McKinnon replaces Carlos Hyde, who is leaving as a free agent for Cleveland. McKinnon has more speed and is a better receiving threat than Hyde and should fit well into coach Kyle Shanahan's offense.

Richburg spent the past four seasons with the New York Giants but played only four games last year because of a concussion. He began his career as a left guard before moving to center in 2015. He played there the past three seasons and is considered one of the top pass-blocking players at the position and has the athleticism to thrive in Shanahan's zone-running scheme.

Coyle had 62 tackles last season in his first year with the 49ers.

"He's a selfless guy that does everything the right way," Shanahan said. "We've always known Brock to be a guy we can count on and it was great to see him play the way he did when given the opportunity."

The 49ers had previously re-signed starting center Daniel Kilgore to a three-year contract last month but Kilgore also has experience at guard and could be asked to move.

It's been a busy offseason already for San Francisco. The Niners signed Garoppolo to a five-year deal last month before he even hit free agency, signed cornerback Richard Sherman after he was cut by Seattle, re-signed defensive lineman Cassius Marsh and offensive lineman Garry Gilliam and gave an extension to receiver Marquise Goodwin.

These moves have addressed many of the team's most glaring needs although San Francisco still could be in the market for another cornerback, a pass rusher, help at linebacker and a big receiving target.

After losing their first nine games last year, the 49ers underwent a remarkable turnaround. They went 5-0 after Garoppolo took over as starting quarterback and finished the year with a 6-10 mark and plenty of optimism they hope to carry over into 2018.

Nuggets general manager Tim Connelly says contract extensions for center Nikola Jokic and guard Will Barton are among his offseason priorities and he hinted coach Michael Malone might be in line for one, too.

The Nuggets have increased their win totals from 30 to 40 to 46 under Malone but they extended their playoff drought to five years when they lost in overtime at Minnesota in the season finale this week.

”This is the most confident I’ve been in our core group since I’ve been here,” said Connelly http://www.greenbaypackersteamonline.com/aaron-rodgers-jersey , who’s been in his post in Denver since 2013. ”I think we have the makings of a team that can enjoy sustainably high levels of success.

”I think there’s going to be some pretty interesting financial decisions we’ll make this offseason.”

Jokic was drafted in the second round in 2014 and signed a three-year, $4 million deal a year later. The Nuggets have a $1.6 million fourth-year option, which they can decline this summer and instead give Jokic a max contract.

While that would crimp their budget next season, it would keep their star away from free agency.

”He’s a guy that’s been tremendous in how quickly he’s developed and a guy that we love and he loves Denver. So, the sooner we can get his signature on a long-term contract, the better,” Connelly said Friday.

Connelly also lauded the versatile Barton’s growth, and said, ”we hope we can get something done. He’s our guy. We love him and I think if he’s back in a Denver jersey, it’s good for both him and the team.”

Malone has a year left on his original four-year deal he signed in 2015. Although he wouldn’t commit to an extension for his coach this summer http://www.indianapoliscoltsteamonline.com/joe-haeg-jersey , Connelly made it clear how he feels about Malone and his staff, suggesting it would be foolhardy to view a 46-win season as a disappointment or a fire-able offense.

”I think Coach and his staff have done a wonderful job,” Connelly said. ”We’ve got to continue to challenge each other. We’ve got to get better. This press conference is premature. We can’t keep having it after the regular season.”

In praising Malone, Connelly cited his 16-game improvement over two years and the development of the team’s core young players, emphasizing the difficulty in coaching a young team.

The Nuggets played better than any team in the West over the last dozen games and took a six-game winning streak into the season finale against the Timberwolves. That marked the first time in franchise history that the Nuggets had posted six straight wins against teams with winning records.

Yet, their inability to close out a seventh straight victory left them lamenting a dozen or so games they frittered away during a trying season in which free agent addition Paul Millsap missed 44 games and second-leading scorer Gary Harris missed 11.

”I thought 46 wins would have us firmly in the playoffs, in a pretty good spot,” Connelly said. ”I’m certainly disappointed we didn’t make it. … But as I reflect on the season and the growth that we’ve shown, I’m unbelievably proud of our team.”

Yet, he’s also running low on patience.

”I thought we had extended stretches of very good basketball. I think at times we had games that were inexcusable Henry Anderson Jersey , and those games come back to haunt you,” Connelly said.

Echoing Malone, Connelly said this season was never a ”playoffs-or-bust” undertaking, but next season certainly will have that feel.

”I think we’re there,” Connelly said. ”How many times can you be the bridesmaid?”

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huangjian123 Yesterday, 02:40AM
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DeMarcus Ware said that a few teams contacted him about returning to action after he retired following the 2016 season Jake Ryan Jersey , but he didn’t have the desire to play again.

Ware wouldn’t mind having a role with one of his former teams, though. Ware worked for NFL Network in his first year of retirement, but his contract is up and he said, via Todd Archer of ESPN.com, that he’s “really trying to get back into mentoring the guys” by doing pass-rushing stuff throughout the week.

Ware spent one day working with Cowboys pass rushers last year, but said he is “talking about really making an impact this year” and thinks defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli would open to it.

“He loved it because he knows I’m a technician and that鈥檚 what he predicates his game off of,” Ware said. “It’s about technique, knowing the strategy and that’s what I do very well and he enjoyed when I was out there.”

Ware will be working with the Cowboys as a draft ambassador when the event comes to Dallas in April and is expected to join the team’s Ring of Honor at some point in the future. That will be a lasting testament to impact on the Cowboys that goes beyond tutoring the current players, but any help he can offer in that area would likely be appreciated.

LeSean McCoy had no doubts he'd be allowed to report for the start of Bills training camp after the running back was accused of bloodying his ex-girlfriend two weeks ago.

And McCoy on Thursday also said he's confident he'll be playing in Buffalo's season opener at Baltimore on Sept. 9.

"I'm here right now http://www.dallascowboysteamonline.com/michael-gallup-jersey , so I feel very confident," McCoy said about an hour before the Bills opened training camp in suburban Rochester.

The comments were the first McCoy has made publicly since being accused of playing a role in his ex-girlfriend being injured during a home invasion at a house McCoy owns in the Atlanta suburbs.

No charges have been filed.

McCoy previously denied any involvement in the home invasion and other allegations posted on social media by a woman who appeared to be a friend of his ex-girlfriend.

McCoy on Thursday addressed the allegations just once in answering the first question during a near nine-minute news conference by saying: "It's an active investigation and I'll leave it at that."

He then repeatedly deflected other questions on what happened by saying he's solely focused on being ready for training camp and the upcoming season.

"Right now, my main focus is here on my teammates, my team, trying to build together in camp to reach our goal together, and that's a championship," McCoy said.

"I don't want to let things distract me or get in the way of that, because I'd be cheating my teammates," he said. "I came here focused for camp and just ready to play Antwaun Woods Jersey , ready to roll."

General manager Brandon Beane said the team has done what he called its due diligence on the allegations and is satisfied by the conversations he's had with the NFL, which is holding its own investigation.

"We feel comfortable that LeSean's going to be here and ready to roll," Beane said. "We don't see that changing."

Coach Sean McDermott also backed McCoy.

"It's a situation that we take very seriously because of the nature of the situation," McDermott said. "That said, as Brandon mentioned, we've done our part, looked into what we need to look into and, as an organization, feel that we can move forward at this point in time."

Court records show McCoy has been attempting to evict his former girlfriend http://www.dallascowboysteamonline.com/anthony-brown-jersey , 34-year-old Delicia Cordon, for the past year. Police records show officers had previously been called to the home twice, but no violence was reported.

During the home invasion, a man entered the home around 3 a.m. on July 11, and demanded specific pieces of jewelry McCoy had given to Cordon and that he had asked her to give back many times.

Veteran linebacker Lorenzo Alexander called the allegations a private matter and said McCoy didn't have to address anything with the team.

"He'll continue to handle that and we'll uplift him and support him in any way we can," Alexander said following practice.

"Obviously, we feel for the victim as well. You never want to see anybody in those situations. So hopefully everything is found out and handled in a well manner," he added. "But this won't be a distraction for anybody in the locker room."

McCoy said the team has been supportive, in noting he had a lengthy conversation with Beane and McDermott upon reporting to camp Wednesday.

"They're backing me 110 percent Mike Daniels Jersey ," he said. "We're moving forward."

McCoy spent much of the past six weeks working out in southern Florida with several NFL players, including Miami Dolphins running back Frank Gore.

He said he's lost about 13 pounds after weighing 225 a few months ago.

McCoy is entering his 10th NFL season and fourth with Buffalo since being acquired by the Bills in a trade with Philadelphia.

Now 30 years old, McCoy is coming off a season in which he had 1,138 yards rushing, and 1,586 yards from scrimmage (including 448 receiving) for the fifth-best totals of his career.

McCoy ranks third among active running backs and 29th overall with 10,092 yards rushing.

NOTES: The Bills signed free agent DT John Hughes to a one-year contract. Hughes has six years of NFL experience including spending last season with New Orleans, where he played eight games before sustaining a season-ending injury to his elbow. He spent his first four-plus seasons with Cleveland and has 10 starts in 66 games. ... Beane declined to provide a timetable on when WR Zay Jones will be cleared for practice after having knee surgery in May. Jones opened camp on the active/non-football injury list. Beane said the team is being cautious to avoid any setback after the second-year player missed all of the team's spring practices.

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huangjian123 Yesterday, 02:32AM
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SPARTANBURG Bobby Massie Jersey , S.C. (AP) Well, it turns out that maybe Panthers four-time All-Pro middle linebacker Luke Kuechly may have a minor flaw in his game.

Who knew?

The 27-year-old Kuechly, considered one of the best players in the league at his position, said after Sunday’s practice his pass rushing ability needs to improve ”by leaps and bounds.”

And Panthers coach Ron Rivera was quick to agree.

”Yes, he does” need to improve, Rivera said. ”Like Cam (Newton) likes to tell you, `Superman has his Kryptonite.”’

Kuechly has been akin to Superman for the Panthers defense over the past six seasons.

He has 818 tackles and 15 interceptions during that span, and has staked his claim as the most productive middle linebacker ever to play for the Panthers -with a realistic chance to go down as one of the NFL’s all-time bests along with Ray Lewis, Jack Lambert, Dick Butkus and Mike Singletary.

Rivera has repeatedly said Kuechly is like having a coach on the field with his ability to call out an opponent’s play call to teammates before the ball is ever snapped. He’s seemingly always around the ball and his mistakes are few and far between.

Getting to the quarterback has rarely been one of Kuechly’s strengths.

He has 10 career sacks, including just one last season. By comparison, Seattle middle linebacker Bobby Wagner – whom Kuechly is often compared to in the NFC – has 15 sacks during that same span.

Kuechly is working with new linebackers coach Steve Russ to improve his explosiveness and ability to penetrate the line of scrimmage, a skillset that could potentially elevate the 2013 NFL Defensive Player of the Year to a whole new level.

”Coach Russ has a planned attack for (improving) that and hopefully it will translate into a game Cameron Meredith Jersey ,” Kuechly said.

Kuechly joked that he has to get better at pressuring the quarterback because his longtime buddy Thomas Davis, the team’s outside linebacker, ”beats me in that (category) every year – and I have to try to get him back.”

This may be Kuechly’s year to get the best of Davis, who will start the season serving a four-game suspension for testing positive for a banned substance.

It’s not anything new for Kuechly to target an area to improve. For the past couple of years Kuechly spent extra energy working on his pass coverage skills, an area in which he has shown noticeable improvement.

Of course, the biggest concern for Kuechly will be avoiding another concussion. He has sustained a concussion in each of the past three seasons, causing him to miss 10 games.

The Panthers simply can’t afford to lose him.

His speed and ability to chase down ball carriers from sideline to sideline still amazes Rivera, who played linebacker for nine seasons for the Chicago Bears and won a Super Bowl in the 1985 season.

Rivera said he’s ”seen everything” from Kuechly, but pointed to a play he made last week in practice that caused the coach to pause the game film and replay it in slow motion several times. As Rivera describes it, Kuechly was chasing down a ball carrier to the outside when a blocker stepped in his way to cut him off.

But that didn’t keep Kuechly from making the play though.

”The position he was in, he should have been cut off,” Rivera said. ”But he made a step in and the blocker came down with him and he jumped around him and accelerated to the outside and made the play. It’s one of those where you just sit there and go, `Wow.”’

While the focus this summer will be on improving as a pass rusher http://www.chicagobearsteamonline.com/roquan-smith-jersey , Rivera said Kuechly remains a special player.

”He has that kind of ability and I think a big part of it is just how smart he is as a football player,” Rivera said.

The three rookie receivers of the Green Bay Packers had a mixed debut.

J'Mon Moore, Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Equanimeous St. Brown had their moments, but also showed room for improvement in the Green Bay Packers' 31-17 victory over the Tennessee Titans on Thursday night.

Valdes-Scantling, a fifth-round pick from South Florida, had the best game of the three, catching five passes for 101 yards, including a 15-yard touchdown from No. 4 quarterback Tim Boyle.

Brown, a sixth-round pick from Notre Dame, had four catches for 61 yards, including a slick 28-yard catch-and-run to help set up Valdes-Scantling's touchdown.

Moore, a fourth-round pick from Missouri, had the toughest game of the three http://www.greenbaypackersteamonline.com/aaron-jones-jersey , catching three passes for 27 yards and dropping what would have likely been a long touchdown pass. Valdes-Scantling also dropped a pass.

"I thought they did a really good job getting off the line of scrimmage," coach Mike McCarthy said Friday.

"I thought their releases and attacking leverage, the young guys, frankly, did better than some of the veterans (after watching) the video. But what do we do at the end of the route? Those are things that you just need live reps. Getting out of the cut, getting to the right breaking point, catching the ball."

As has been the case throughout camp, the young receiver who stole the show was Jake Kumerow.

He isn't a rookie. He's in his fourth training camp after two years on the Cincinnati Bengals' practice squad and after spending time on the Packers' practice squad at the end of last season.

Kumerow, who has drawn praise from star quarterback Aaron Rodgers throughout camp, put an exclamation point on the game with a 52-yard touchdown catch from Boyle.

But while the 26-year-old Kumerow came from Division III Wisconsin-Whitewater, he's had the advantage of NFL camp experience and has avoided the inconsistency the three rookie draft picks have exhibited.

That inconsistency drew Rodgers' ire late in the week after a particularly sloppy practice on Tuesday that McCarthy called "our worst practice of the year."

After that practice, Rodgers, who ran the scout-team offense because he wasn't going to play against the Titans Leonard Floyd Jersey , listed players who were doing things the right way, but left the three rookie receivers off that list.

While he never mentioned them by name, he left little doubt which players he was referring to for making repeated mistakes.

Valdes-Scantling had a leaping 51-yard catch on a deep pass by DeShone Kizer in the third quarter. He also made a nice in-the-air adjustment to pull down Boyle's pass on the touchdown, which gave the Packers a 24-10 lead with under four minutes left.

"Definitely. That's our leader," Valdes-Scantling said when asked if he took Rodgers' criticism to heart. "You've got a Hall of Fame quarterback over there, and if he's telling you that you're not doing it right, you've got to change what you're doing. It's just that we've got to be pros all the time. Can't be pros for just three-fourths of practice, you've got to be it all the time. That was the only thing."

Moore's biggest disappointment came in the second half, on a deep ball from Boyle on third-and-8 from the Green Bay 35-yard line. While Moore did a terrific job of getting open on the go-route, he dropped the ball at the Titans 29-yard line. Had he caught it, it likely would have been a 65-yard touchdown.

"I'm going to move forward for sure," Moore said. "But it's definitely going to put a fire up underneath me and definitely have me dig deeper."

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huangjian123 Yesterday, 02:26AM
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GREEN BAY Kyle Long Jersey , Wis. (AP) — A blockbuster deal brought a new wrinkle to the NFL’s oldest rivalry.

The Chicago Bears visit Lambeau Field on Sunday night, just in time for star pass-rusher Khalil Mack to potentially make his debut in the season opener against the Green Bay Packers.

A premier player joins what figures to be an already tough defense. Defensive lineman Akiem Hicks can’t hide his glee.

“When we got him, I was just so excited just to have such a prolific pass-rusher next to me. It’s going to be phenomenal,” Hicks said.

He led the Bears last year with a career-high 8½ sacks. Mack is second in the NFL since 2015 with 36½ sacks. Promising third-year player Leonard Floyd, a 2016 first-round draft pick, will line up at the outside linebacker spot opposite Mack.

This could spell trouble for offensive lines.

“You usually have to game-plan around him, and then when you game-plan around somebody, regardless of what position it is, then there’s an advantage somewhere else,” coach Matt Nagy said. “That gives the advantage to other players on defense, so those guys need to step up when given opportunities.”

The Packers looked into trading for Mack. Now they have to face him.

“Yeah, I was lying in bed scrolling through Twitter like, ‘Dang, man. Gotta see him twice a year now Trent Williams Jersey ,” Packers receiver Randall Cobb said about his reaction to the Bears’ deal for Mack.

The primary responsibility for blocking Mack will fall to veteran right tackle Bryan Bulaga , who will be playing his first game since tearing his right ACL in November. At least Bulaga has had some time on the practice field this preseason, unlike Mack, who held out before being traded by the Oakland Raiders.

He might get some help at times from the Packers’ deep tight end group, reinforced during the offseason with the additions of free agent Jimmy Graham and Marcedes Lewis to join veteran Lance Kendricks.

They’ll be tasked to give enough time to the ultimate equalizer: quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

It just wasn’t clear if Mack would be ready to play this week, though Hicks sure seemed pretty confident that his new teammate would be on the field.

“Well, that’s a really good player in his prime,” Rodgers said about Mack. “They obviously gave up some picks, but it just adds to the rivalry now that we get to see him twice a year.”

Other notes and things to watch for the game:

GRAHAM’S DEBUT: Graham, who signed as a free agent from Seattle, has already shown chemistry with Rodgers. The 6-foot-7 tight end could offer an enticing target especially in the red zone . Defenses may have to decide whether to pay more attention to Graham over the middle or receiver Davante Adams on the outside.

“He can do it all over the field,” Rodgers said of Graham. “He’s got a wide, wide catch radius and there are a lot of things he can do.”

TAKE TWO: The Bears made big moves in the offseason to get the most out of prized quarterback Mitchell Trubisky. Whether he can deliver remains to be seen .

“Everything that I saw and went through last year is going to help make me more comfortable this year,” Trubisky said.

Trubisky threw for 2 Marlon Mack Jersey ,193 yards in 12 games last season after Chicago traded up a spot to draft him with the No. 2 overall pick. But he also had as many interceptions as touchdown passes while compiling a 77.5 rating that was about the same as Mike Glennon’s (76.9).

ON THE CORNER: The Packers revamped their cornerback group in the offseason, bringing back veteran Tramon Williams while taking rookies Jaire Alexander and Josh Jackson with their first two picks in the draft. They’ve shown playmaking promise in training camp. Last year’s second-round pick, Kevin King, is also healthy again after missing time during his rookie year with a shoulder injury. The 6-foot-5 King has the length and speed to play press coverage on the edge.

ROBINSON RETURNS: The Bears are counting on Trubisky to make big gains in first-year coach Nagy’s offense. They also gave him some new options, including former Jacksonville Pro Bowl receiver Allen Robinson. He returns to the field after tearing his left ACL in his left knee during last year’s opener with Jaguars. Signed by the Bears in March, Robinson did not catch pass in the preseason.

MILESTONES: The NFC North rivalry goes back to 1921, with Green Bay holding a 96-94-6 edge. The game will also open up the 100th season in the history of the Packers. The Bears are opening their 99th season.

SPORTS BETTING

The Supreme Court cleared the way for states coast to coast to legalize betting on sports, breaking a longtime ban and creating a potential financial boon for states and the gambling industry. The first bets could be placed within weeks.

Despite opposition from the major sports leagues and the Trump administration, the high court struck down a federal law that had barred betting on football, basketball, baseball and other sports in most states. States that want to take advantage of the ruling now will generally have to pass legislation to allow sports books to open. Some, including New Jersey, which brought the case to the Supreme Court, have a head start.

Sports leagues had expressed concerns about any expansion of sports gambling. Their huge businesses could be badly harmed if people thought the outcome of games could be altered by someone who had wagered money on a certain result.

However Ryan Kelly Jersey , the ruling also could be seen as merely bringing an activity out of the shadows that many people already see as a mainstream hobby.

NBA

HOUSTON (AP) – Kevin Durant scored 37 points and Klay Thompson added 28 to lead Golden State to a 119-106 win in the long-awaited showdown with the Houston Rockets in Game 1 of the Western Conference final.

Starting a playoff series on the road for the first time since 2014, the Warriors trailed by nine early, but had evened it up by halftime and used a big run at the beginning of the fourth quarter to pull away.

Game 2 is Wednesday night in Houston.

Eric Gordon opened the final period with a 3-pointer to get the top-seeded Rockets within 4, but Thompson scored the first eight points of a 13-4 run to make it 100-87 with about eight minutes left.

PHOENIX (AP) – Igor Kokoskov is the first NBA head coach born and raised outside North America, but he reminded everyone at his introductory news conference with the Phoenix Suns that he didn’t exactly just get off the plane.

Kokoskov, 46, just finished his 18th season as an NBA assistant coach. He’s been with six different teams. Some played slow. Some played fast. He has been on the staffs of seven squads to reach the conference finals. This game is not new to him.

Kokoskov was named head coach of the Suns last week but, as an assistant with the Utah Jazz, he had to finish his work in the playoff series against the Houston Rockets before turning his attention to the desert.

ATLANTA (AP) – At the start of his first news conference as the Atlanta Hawks coach, Lloyd Pierce looked down at a row filled with four of his new players.

His thoughts immediately turned to his passion: Defense.

Pierce, the former Philadelphia 76ers assistant whose agreement to become the Hawks coach was announced Friday, said his first priority will be assembling a staff. Pierce will be looking for assistants who share his passion for defense and his proven ability to connect with young players.

A young Atlanta roster is about to add much more youth in next month’s NBA draft.

NHL

WINNIPEG, Manitoba (AP) – Jonathan Marchessault scored twice and Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 30 shots, lifting the Vegas Golden Knights to a 3-1 series-tying win over the Winnipeg Jets in Game 2 of the Western Conference final.

Kyle Connor scored midway through the third period to pull Winnipeg within a goal. Marchessault restored the two-goal lead 1:28 later.

Tomas Tatar scored 6:37 into the game for the Golden Knights.

Connor Hellebuyck had 25 saves for the Jets.

Game 3 is Wednesday night in Las Vegas.

NFL

HACKENSACK Pierre Desir Jersey , N.J. (AP) – Three sports memorabilia collectors who accused New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning of providing bogus ”game-worn” equipment that was sold to unsuspecting fans settled their lawsuit against the Super Bowl-winning quarterback days before the case was scheduled to go to trial.

A spokesman for the defendants, a group that included Manning, the Giants, two equipment managers and Steiner Sports, the company with whom Manning is under contract to provide game-worn jerseys and helmets for sale, said Monday night a settlement had been reached to resolve the claims. Details were not given.

Plaintiffs Eric Inselberg, Michael Jakab and Sean Godown had sought triple the amount of their alleged losses – which totaled less than $20,000 combined – for buying two helmets billed as worn by Manning. They also had sought punitive damages, and claimed in court filings they would produce evidence that would ”show that Manning engaged in a pattern of knowingly providing items to Steiner Sports that he misrepresented as having been game-used when he knew they were not.”

BASEBALL

CHICAGO (AP) – Ben Zobrist was joined by Chicago Cubs teammates Kyle Schwarber and Steve Cishek in wearing black spikes on Monday despite a warning from Major League Baseball that he was in violation of the sport’s uniform regulations.

Zobrist posted a letter from MLB on Instagram on Saturday that cited him for violating regulations requiring at least 51 percent of the exterior of a player’s shoes be the club’s designated primary shoe color. For the Cubs, that color is blue.

The letter said Zobrist will be subject to discipline, including a fine, if he continued to wear non-compliant shoes.

Zobrist said he planned to contract Joe Torre, MLB’s Chief Baseball Officer.

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huangjian123 Yesterday, 02:20AM
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The home of the Denver Broncos will be known as Broncos Stadium at Mile High while the team continues to look for a new naming-rights sponsor.

The team announced the temporary name change Wednesday following a vote by the district that oversees the taxpayer-built stadium.

The stadium has had two naming-rights sponsors since it opened in 2001 Cheap Stacy McGee Jersey , most recently Sports Authority. Both names included a reference to the Broncos’ original stadium. The team took down large signs with Sports Authority’s name earlier this year after the company declared bankruptcy and stopped making payments.

In a statement, Broncos Chief Commercial Officer Mac Freeman said the team has had ”many productive conversations” and is confident it will find the right partner.

A deal would help pay for stadium maintenance.

The Oakland Raiders finished the NFL draft by taking another risk, although this one could come with an extremely high payoff.

The Raiders traded up in the fifth round on Saturday to take talented Michigan pass rusher Maurice Hurst, who fell from a projected first-round pick to off some draft boards because of concerns from a heart condition that got him sent home from the combine.

”It’s money,” Hurst said. ”Just upset and disappointed in teams that decided not to pick me. But one got a great player for very little. So I’m very excited to be part of the Raiders organization.”

The Raiders traded the 159th and 185th picks to Indianapolis for the 140th pick on Saturday and used it to take a player who might have gone in the first round had he not had health concerns.

But he got sent home from the combine after a heart issue was detected. Hurst said it was something he has dealt with for a long time and hadn’t impacted him on the field. He said he has been cleared by doctors at Harvard and Michigan but that didn’t prevent his fall.

”It’s tough just going into it thinking that you’re one of the top players in the draft and having good tape and everything like that,” he said. ”Just having to wait and see guys that you believe that you’re better than go ahead of you Josh Norman Jersey , I mean it’s tough. But I’m just happy to be in the right place and part of a great organization.”

Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie said the team had no concerns about Hurst’s ability to get on the field and said he expected him to take part in rookie minicamp next week. The team will keep monitoring him but he currently has no limitations.

”The fact is that he does have a heart condition but it’s a situation where he’ll get checked every year but right now he’s good,” McKenzie said.

Hurst was an All-American and one of the most productive defensive players in the country last season. He had 5 sacks as an interior rusher and led all nose tackles and defensive tackles with 49 total quarterback pressures, according to Pro Football Focus.

”The one thing he can do is work the edge of the offensive linemen,” McKenzie said. ”He does a good job of maneuvering around that blocking and getting up field.”

The move for Hurst was one of several this weekend when the Raiders made high-risk, high-reward moves. They dealt a third-round pick to Pittsburgh on Thursday for talented receiver Martavis Bryant, who has been suspended twice for substance abuse issues.

Oakland then traded up in the third round Friday to take LSU pass rusher Arden Key Randy Gregory Jersey , who was viewed as a first-round talent but spent time in drug rehabilitation in college.

The Raiders also used two picks on Friday for FCS players whom they believe have the upside to thrive in the NFL in defensive lineman P.J. Hall from Sam Houston State and offensive tackle Brandon Parker of North Carolina A&T.

Here are some other takeaways from draft weekend:

CORNER HELP

The Raiders started the day Saturday by taking Wisconsin cornerback Nick Nelson with the 110th overall pick. Nelson spent his first two seasons at Hawaii before transferring. He has no career interceptions but did have 21 passes defensed last season. He allowed just 37 percent of passes thrown his way to be caught last season, according to Pro Football Focus, and might have been taken higher if not for a knee injury during a pre-draft workout with Detroit.

JUST FOR KICKS

After cutting punter Marquette King last month, the Raiders found his potential replacement in the fifth round Saturday. They took Florida’s Johnny Townsend 173rd overall and as the third punter in the fifth round. Townsend is the all-time leading punter for the Gators and averaged 46.2 yards per kick in his career and is known for his skill as a directional punter. This marks the fourth time the Raiders have drafted a punter with Ray Guy making the Hall of Fame and Shane Lechler going to seven Pro Bowls.

SEEING RED

McKenzie had mixed emotions when his son, Kahlil, was drafted in the sixth round by the rival Kansas City Chiefs.

”I got a text from Charles Woodson. He said http://www.washingtonredskinsteamonline.com/alex-smith-jersey , `Your son has to retire. There’s no way he’s going to put that red helmet on his head,”’ McKenzie said. ”Part of me felt that way but in all seriousness, it’s a good opportunity for him.”

TRADING POST

The Raiders were wheeling and dealing during the draft, making seven trades in all, including the one to acquire Bryant. They moved down in the first round and again in the second, before using some of those extra picks to move up for both of their third-round picks. Oakland then traded up again for Hurst Thurman Thomas Jersey , as only four of the nine players taken came with picks the Raiders had entering the draft.

The Raiders then made a player swap late in the day Saturday, sending disappointing 2016 second-round defensive tackle Jihad Ward to Dallas for receiver Ryan Switzer, a fourth-round pick last year who excelled as a returner as a rookie.

STILL NEED

The Raiders went into the draft with needs at inside linebacker and didn’t address it until the sixth round when they took Washington’s Azeem Victor with the 216th overall pick. Victor was suspended for a DUI charge last season. McKenzie said he has not ruled out bringing back last year’s starter NaVorro Bowman, who is still on the free agent market looking for a deal next year.

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A theory has been making the rounds regarding the lack of a contract between the Raiders and defensive end Khalil Mack. It goes like this: The Raiders and Mack are waiting for the Rams and Aaron Donald to get a deal done first.

That theory would be somewhat plausible if the Raiders and Mack were actively negotiating T.Y. Hilton Jersey , trading proposals and waiting for the Donald deal to get done before landing the plane. But the Raiders and Mack haven’t talked since February, making it much harder to envision the Raiders and Mack waiting for the Donald deal to be finalized before essentially starting from scratch.

Also, why would the Raiders and Mack assume that Donald, who stayed away last year until the day before the season started, would sign early enough to allow the Raiders and Mack to get their deal done in advance of the Week One game between the Rams and Raiders? Waiting for Donald could have meant (and still could mean) following him into a regular-season holdout.

Another theory continues to linger regarding the Raiders’ financial wherewithal (or lack thereof) to sign Mack. Regardless of whether the team has the money now to pay Mack’s signing bonus — and to put into escrow all future guarantees covering 2019 and beyond — the Raiders and old/new coach Jon Gruden surely had the money in February.

But Gruden spent some $55 million in 2018 money on other players, taking a big chunk out of the budget that otherwise would/could have gone to Mack. Quite possibly http://www.chicagobearsteamonline.com/quintin-demps-jersey , Gruden decided in February to move on to other players, when a deal wasn’t quickly done with Mack.

If so, Gruden likely now assumes that Mack will play for $13.846 million this year, and that the Raiders will simply franchise tag him next year. What remains to be seen is whether Mack shows up for Week One, or whether he’ll pass on game checks in excess of $800,000 each.

However it plays out Phillip Gaines Jersey , Gruden has publicly vowed to get Mack back. With no negotiations and possibly no money left in the 2018 budget to sign him to a long-term deal, whether Mack returns may be something that has nothing to do with anything Gruden says or does.

President Donald Trump said Friday he expects to welcome the hometown Washington Capitals hockey team to the White House for winning the Stanley Cup. But he adds: "If they don't want to be here, I don't want them."

Trump congratulated the Capitals on his Twitter feed after the team won the NHL title with a 4-3 victory over the Vegas Golden Knights in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final. He singled out series MVP Alex Ovechkin as "a true Superstar" and said the city is "popping" after the Capitals won the team's first Stanley Cup championship.

The president spoke to reporters on the South Lawn days after he canceled a visit by the Philadelphia Eagles to commemorate their Super Bowl victory after most of the players decided to skip the ceremony.

Before departing for an international summit in Canada, Trump said he wouldn't invite either the Golden State Warriors or the Cleveland Cavaliers, the two teams in the NBA Finals, but added Jerrell Freeman Jersey , "we have other teams that are coming."

Trump pointed out that he's had several championship teams at the White House, including the NFL's New England Patriots and the NHL's Pittsburgh Penguins.

"I think we'll have the Caps. I mean, we'll see," Trump said. "You know, my attitude: If they want to be here, it's the greatest place on Earth Charles Haley Jersey , I'm here. If they don't want to be here, I don't want them."

Trump tweeted after the Capitals' victory: "Congratulations to the Washington Capitals on their GREAT play and winning the Stanley Cup Championship. Alex Ovechkin, the team captain, was spectacular - a true Superstar! D.C. is popping, in many ways. What a time!"

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huangjian123 Yesterday, 02:07AM
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Dwyane Wade snuffed out one 76ers‘ rally by popping a 16-foot fadeaway with the shot clock ticking down. Wade made a halfhearted attempt at reaching his hand out toward a fallen defender before he scooted on his way.

Wade was up Paul Hornung Jersey , the Sixers were down and suddenly, a series.

The Heat had to have this one – a brooding Joel Embiid is angling for a comeback.

Wade turned in a vintage performance, scoring 28 points to end the 76ers’ 17-game winning streak and lead the Miami Heat to a 113-103 Game 2 win over Philadelphia on Monday night and even the first-round playoff series.

”It’s just in my DNA,” Wade said. ”I love the stage.”

The 36-year-old flashed the form of a three-time NBA champion with the Heat, not the journeyman who bounced around the last two seasons with forgettable stints in Chicago and Cleveland.

Wade made 11 of 17 shots and put on a show in the second quarter and put it away in the fourth.

”I saw moments,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. ”That’s what defines Dwyane Wade.”

The 76ers could soon get their defining Process moment from Embiid.

The Sixers sorely needed Embiid, their All-Star center out with a broken orbital bone, to settle them as they fell in a quick a 16-point hole.

The Sixers lost for the first time since March 13 to Indiana. They won 16 straight to end the regular season and the first game of the playoffs and played their 10th straight game without Embiid.

”You need Joel Embiid,” Sixers coach Brett Brown said.

Embiid went on Instagram after the game and wrote, ”sick and tired of being babied.”

Pack the black mask for Miami.

”Joel is a superstar. Of course we’re missing him offensively Skai Moore Jersey , defensively,” Sixers forward Dario Saric said. ”He’s a guy who wants to play all the time. I can’t wait for Joel to come back and help us because we’re a better team with him.”

Even without Embiid, the Sixers trimmed the lead to two points late in the fourth.

Philly fans were going wild and suddenly the home-court edge that had made the Sixers unbeatable for a month seemed like it would perk the team back up for one more notch on the winning streak.

Not so fast.

Ersan Ilyasova made a tip shot to close to 98-96 but Wade answered and stripped Saric and finished on the other end with a basket that steadied the Heat.

The series shifts to Miami for Game 3 on Thursday.

Wade’s play resembled his glory days at times and he carried the Heat in a sensational second quarter that was the difference. He pump-faked his way to 15 points in the quarter – impressive enough, even moreso that he outscored the potent Sixers by two points.

Wade made his first seven shots of the game and passed Larry Bird for 10th on the NBA’s career postseason scoring list.

”I play the game for these moments,” Wade said.

After a Game 1 victory where they couldn’t miss, the Sixers couldn’t make a big bucket in the first half. The Sixers made a team playoff-record 18 3s in Game 1 and missed a whopping 16 of 18 3s in the first half.

The Heat slowed the game down – exactly the kind of style where the Sixers needed Embiid in the middle – and used a collective of defenders on Ben Simmons that rattled the rookie point guard early.

The passing-and-pushing offense that got the Sixers to the No. 3 seed in the East failed them for the first time since early March.

But there was life left in the fourth.

Saric was fouled by Wade and sank both from the line to make it 91-82 and he followed with a 3 the next time down that sent the crowd into a frenzy. Saric broke up a pass on defense that led to a Simmons dunk and suddenly 18 straight wins was within reach.

Wade contributed with baskets, assists and free throws over the final 4 minutes to close out the win.

”We played Game 1 like a regular-season game and tonight was a playoff game,” Wade said.

Simmons, who had a triple-double in the opener, led the Sixers with 24 points and Saric had 23.

”I hate this feeling but maybe it’s a good reminder for everybody for next game to lock in John Riggins Jersey ,” Simmons said.

TIP-INS

Heat: Goran Dragic scored 20 points and James Johnson had 18.

76ers: Philly native and Hollywood star Kevin Hart rang the ceremonial Liberty Bell and sat courtside a few seats down from Allen Iverson.

Wade said he was motivated by Hart’s trash talk. ”To be able to hush a crowd, that’s a great feeling,” Wade said.

LINEUP CHANGE

Ilyasova got the start at center for the first time in Embiid’s absence over Amir Johnson.

REMEMBERING GREER

The 76ers held a moment of silence for Hall of Famer Hal Greer. Greer died Saturday after a brief illness. He was 81. He’s the 76ers’ career leader in points, field goals, field goals attempted, games and minutes played.

”He was a graceful man. He was class. He was a gentleman,” Brown said.

UP NEXT

Game 3 is Thursday and Game 4 is Saturday in Miami.

Chuck Knox, the former NFL coach who took the Los Angeles Rams to three straight NFC championship games and also led the Seattle Seahawks and Buffalo Bills, has died. He was 86.

The Rams and Seahawks said Sunday that Knox died Saturday night.

”He established a winning culture and a legacy that will never be forgotten, being the only coach to lead the Rams to five consecutive double-digit-win seasons Kyle Williams Jersey ,” the Rams said in a statement. ”The memories and accomplishments that Coach Knox left behind will continue to inspire us and Rams fans. We hold his family in our thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.”

Called ”Ground Chuck,” for his run-first offenses, Knox was the NFL coach of the year in 1973, 1980 and 1984, winning the award with all three teams he coached. He went 186-147-1 during 22 seasons as an NFL head coach, including two stints with the Rams. He won five straight NFC West titles from 1973-77, and he returned in 1992 for the franchise’s final three seasons in Los Angeles before its move to St. Louis.

Hall of Fame defensive end Jack Youngblood posted a picture on Twitter thanking Knox for his trust and ”allowing us to make our way to Canton.”

”Chuck Knox was one of the most influential men in the early days of my career,” Youngblood wrote. ”Great coach and an even better man.”

Knox left the Rams in 1978 for the Buffalo Bills. After five seasons, he took over the Seahawks in 1983 and immediately led the franchise to its first playoff berth and the AFC title game. He spent nine seasons with Seattle.

”His presence projected an external toughness, but merited instantaneous respect by the genuine care and concern he held for his players Kevin Hogan Jersey ,” the Seahawks said in a statement. ”He was one of the great influencers not only in football, but in life.”

Knox is the only coach to be enshrined in the Seahawks ”Ring of Honor.” He was revered in Seattle for turning the young franchise into a contender in the AFC West for most of his tenure.

Current Seattle coach Pete Carroll tweeted Sunday that Knox was, ”A true Seahawks legend and a man who had a great impact on so many.”

Knox was a two-way tackle at Juniata College in his native Pennsylvania, serving as a captain on the school’s undefeated 1953 team. He began his coaching career as an assistant at Juniata. He was a high school assistant at Tyrone and then head coach at Ellwood City before moving on to Wake Forest and Kentucky.

Knox considered at one-time returning to Juniata as a history professor and was working on a master’s degree at Penn State before deciding coaching was where he should be.

”During that time, I thought what I really wanted to do was coach and not go into the academic area,” Knox told the AP in a 2005 interview. ”I know I made the right choice. It’s what I wanted to do.”

Knox entered professional football in the AFL with the New York Jets as offensive line coach in 1963, and played a key role in the recruitment of quarterback Joe Namath. He remained with the Jets until 1966, and was then offensive line coach with the Detroit Lions from 1967-1972.

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