Mavericks’ Luka Doncic (ankle) practices, could return Thursday vs. Spurs

Luka Doncic was a full participant in the Dallas Mavericks’ Christmas Eve practice — his first since spraining his right ankle almost two weeks ago — and could return as soon as Thursday’s home game against the San Antonio Spurs.

“He seems to be doing better every day,” Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said. “I don’t know what his status will be for Thursday, but he’ll certainly be upgraded. He’s doing well. We’ll see how he feels tomorrow, and then Thursday we’ll see what’s what, but things are looking better and better.”

Doncic moved well during the practice, but the Mavs want to monitor how his ankle responds before determining his status against the Spurs.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

“I’m feeling good,” said Doncic, who has emerged as an early MVP candidate by averaging 29.3 points, 9.6 rebounds and 8.9 assists per game. “Just taking care of it. [There’s] a lot of things that we have to do, and we’re just taking care of it. We’ll see how it progresses, and we’ll see if I play.”8

Doncic injured the ankle when he stepped on the foot of Miami Heat guard Kendrick Nunn while driving to the basket in the opening minutes of the Mavs’ double-overtime loss on Dec. 14. The ankle rolled over so far that it touched the hardwood, and the Mavs felt fortunate that X-rays were negative and Doncic was diagnosed with a lateral ankle sprain.cheap nfl nike jerseys china

The Mavs managed to win two of the four games that Doncic sat out despite facing Eastern Conference powers, pulling off road wins over the Milwaukee Bucks and Philadelphia 76ers with Jalen Brunson replacing Doncic in the starting lineup. It would have been a 3-1 week for the Mavs, but on Sunday they became the first NBA team in a decade to blow a 30-point lead as they lost the Toronto Raptors.

“We have a great team and had some tough matchups,” Doncic said. “They played great. Like I always say, we have a deep team.”

After staying home when the team traveled to Milwaukee immediately after his injury, Doncic joined the Mavs for their weekend road trip to Philadelphia and Toronto and ramped up his rehabilitation process. He went through extended workouts under the supervision of Casey Smith, Dallas’ director of player health and performance, before both games. Doncic worked at close to full speed Sunday in Toronto, going through a series of one-on-one moves against the defense of assistant coach Jamahl Mosley.

“I just want to go back on the court to play, because I’m competitive,” Doncic said. “I just wanted it to get better quick, get back as soon as possible.”

Sources: Lakers’ LeBron James, Anthony Davis expected to play vs. Clippers

The Los Angeles Lakers will have their stars on the court for a Christmas Day showdown with the LA Clippers.

LeBron James and Anthony Davis are expected to play on Wednesday, league sources told ESPN. James missed a game for the first time all season Sunday with a thoracic muscle strain and discomfort in his groin; Davis tweaked his right knee during that game, a loss to Denver.nfl nike jersey cheap

James and Davis encouraged an impromptu early-morning practice on Christmas Eve, sources told ESPN, in preparation for the Lakers’ first game against the fully formed Clippers with both Kawhi Leonard and Paul George available to play.

The Lakers, who recently completed a stint of 12 out of 15 games on the road, also practiced Monday, but both James and Davis were held out of on-court participation.7

With an early 5 p.m. PT tip on Christmas making it too much of a time crunch to hold a morning shootaround on game day, the two Lakers leaders brought the group in on Tuesday so they could join their teammates in the walk-through to prepare for the Clippers.

Lakers coach Frank Vogel lamented his team’s overall lack of practice time and conceded that it could be a contributor to the three-game losing streak L.A. is mired in.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

“We went a 10-day trip without a single practice, really,” Vogel said Monday. “One shootaround, I think. Sometimes that benefits your legs, but usually it leads to a little bit of slippage in your execution and togetherness, particularly on the defensive end.”

The Clippers beat the Lakers 112-102 on opening night in a game that the Lakers admit did not feature their best execution. “I think we were super emotional in the first game, and it showed,” Dwight Howard said this week, looking back at the loss.

James and Davis’ extra practice time would seem to be a step toward drilling down the game plan to have that knowledge to fall back on when the atmosphere gets charged at Staples Center for Lakers-Clippers, Part 2.

“It’s a little bit like the playoffs,” Vogel said. “You want to be jacked up. But sometimes the best mental approach to the playoffs is managing your adrenaline and managing the edge. But let’s start with the edge first. Bring the juice first. If we’re overboard with it, we can always pull back. But you don’t want to be it the other way around. And it won’t be.”

Lions win despite loss, moving up to No. 3 in 2020 NFL draft

The most dramatic moments for the Detroit Lions on Sunday came hundreds of miles and two time zones away from Empower Field at Mile High. For the purposes of this flailing Lions season and everything that is to come in the future, what happened in Maryland and Miami mattered much more.cheap nfl jerseys china nike

As games between fellow top-five draft contenders went to overtime — actually overlapping with a quarter of Detroit’s 27-17 loss to Denver on Sunday — there were questions about how high or how low the Lions could go, at least in terms of the 2020 NFL draft.

As the Miami Dolphins kicked a field goal at the end of overtime to beat the Cincinnati Bengals and the New York Giants scored an overtime touchdown to best the Washington Redskins, the Lions moved from No. 5 in the draft to No. 3. And the chase for potential defense-changing Ohio State edge rusher Chase Young remains on in earnest.8

In the Super Bowl era, they now have the worst record of any team that went unbeaten in the team’s first three games, snapping a 50-year-old mark held by the Bengals, who went 4-9-1 in 1969 after starting 3-0. Coincidentally, they lost at Denver in their season finale. While this isn’t the last game for the Lions, the loss did lock up this mark for Detroit.china nike nfl jerseys cheap

A loss Sunday in the season finale against Green Bay would give the franchise its worst season since a 2-14 record in 2009 — one year removed from the franchise’s winless 2008 season.

But a loss to the Packers on Sunday combined with a Washington win over Dallas would give the Lions the No. 2 overall pick and a really, really good chance at Young.

Silver lining: The Lions activated starting running back Kerryon Johnson on Saturday and he ended up being a decent part of the team’s game plan. He didn’t take his first snap until late in the first series, but had 10 carries for 42 yards — including the bulk of the work in the third quarter on a drive that ended with a Kenny Golladay touchdown. It’s still reasonable to question why Johnson was playing in a game with little meaning, but the duo of Johnson and Bo Scarbrough showed promise, combining for 76 yards and 4.2 yards per carry.

Bold prediction for next week: One unexpected player is going to have a standout performance with more playing opportunity. The pick here is linebacker Steve Longa, who might see increased work if Jahlani Tavai’s shoulder injury keeps him out. Should that happen, don’t be surprised if Longa has a double-digit tackle day to show he can play some defense along with his role as one of Detroit’s top special-teams standouts.

Describe the game in two words: One. Left. The 2019 Lions season mercifully comes to an end Sunday against the Packers. Green Bay could be playing for a bye or a division title. The Lions will be playing for the last time until the 2020 season.

Patrick Mahomes won’t admit connection between finger counting and draft

So maybe Patrick Mahomes does feel snubbed for being the 10th player and the second quarterback selected in the 2017 NFL draft.

The Kansas City Chiefs’ quarterback was seen counting to 10 on his fingers after throwing a touchdown pass to Travis Kelce late in the first half of Sunday night’s 26-3 win over the Chicago Bears. Ten, as in the 10th player drafted, on the same night he and the Chiefs were facing the only quarterback selected ahead of him that year.

The Bears’ Mitchell Trubisky was drafted second overall.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

“I don’t know if there was necessarily a meaning,” Mahomes said later. “I was just kind of in the moment and just enjoying it. … I knew it was a big moment in the game and you look to take advantage of it when you get that opportunity against that defense.

“I was just out there having fun. … We had a big score before the half and I was just trying to enjoy it. You’ve seen me play. I play with emotion. I like to just go out there and have fun with my teammates.”7

Perhaps. But the timing, with the Chiefs facing the Bears and Trubisky, seemed to make Mahomes’ gesture more than a coincidence.

Even one of his teammates, running back Damien Williams, seemed to understand the significance. Williams offered Mahomes congratulations as the quarterback was heading off the field while counting and approaching the sideline.

Mahomes was the clear winner in the quarterback battle with Trubisky. He completed 23 of 33 passes for 251 yards and two touchdowns and also ran for a score. Trubisky completed 18 of 34 passes for 157 yards.cheap nfl jerseys china nike

Kelce said he didn’t see Mahomes’ 10 count.

“I can’t really see Pat doing that,” Kelce said. “He’s a humble guy. You know what drives everyone sometimes is something deeper. I’m sure he’s happy where he is, but that probably helped him in his early years. Kind of gave him some motive and gave him some fire.

“I think he’s the type of competitor that he feels, every single game, every single time he touches the football he’s trying to prove something. Well, not necessarily prove something but be the best he can and show the world that you know that he is the best.”

That just hadn’t been Mahomes’ way, until Sunday night. He’ll celebrate after a touchdown with his teammates, but is quick to deflect any credit to his coaches and teammates.

Mahomes, while not acknowledging the meaning of his 10 count, did indicate he remembered being the second quarterback drafted two years ago.

Wolves come from behind to win at Norwich

Wolverhampton Wanderers got back to winning ways as they punished relegation-threatened Norwich City with a second-half comeback to win 2-1 in the Premier League on Saturday.

Wolves, whose 11-match unbeaten run was ended by Tottenham Hotspur the previous week, were dreadful before half-time, but goals by Romain Saiss and Raul Jimenez sealed victory.

Roared on by the Carrow Road faithful, Norwich outplayed Wolves in the first half and had they been more ruthless the points could have been in the bag before the interval.cheap nike jerseys nfl

Wolves keeper Rui Patricio produced a smart early save to deny Kenny McLean and then turned Alex Tettey’s low drive against the post as Norwich swarmed forward.6

Norwich took the lead in the 17th minute when Wolves failed to clear McLean’s cross and Todd Cantwell smashed the ball home.

Teemu Pukki was twice denied by the over-worked Patricio as Wolves staggered to halftime only a goal in arrears.

Predictably, Wolves were a different proposition after the break and equalised after 62 minutes when the increasingly influential Joao Moutinho whipped in a cross that Saiss met with a powerful header.

Norwich were deflated and Wolves snatched victory in the 81st minute with Jimenez on hand to convert a rebound after keeper Tim Krul saved Matt Doherty’s point-blank effort.cheap nfl jerseys from china nike

“Football can be the most unfair sport in the world,” Norwich manager Daniel Farke said. “You have to grab your reward and we didn’t. We missed too many chances today.”

The defeat leaves his side second from bottom, six points below the safety zone, while Wolves climb to sixth with the win, two points off fourth-placed Chelsea who face Tottenham on Sunday.

Sheffield United beat Brighton to close in on top four

Oliver McBurnie scored the only goal of the game as Sheffield United extended their superb unbeaten away record in this season’s Premier League with a 1-0 win over Brighton and Hove Albion on Saturday.cheap wholesale nike nfl jerseys

The visitors had already had a goal ruled out by VAR when McBurnie exploited indecision in the Brighton defence to take control of a long ball and lash home the winner midway through the first half.

After a toothless first-half performance, Brighton boss Graham Potter made a double substitution at half-time, introducing Aaron Connolly for Leandro Trossard and Glenn Murray for Pascal Gross.

But it was David McGoldrick who almost made it 2-0 early in the second half, snapping up another poor header and rounding the goalkeeper before shooting into the side netting with the goal at his mercy.5

Brighton’s attacking fortunes improved slightly in the second half as the rain poured down, with teenage striker Connolly proving a handful with his quick feet and direct style, but the home team could not force an equaliser.

“We didn’t play well today,” Potter said. “They made it difficult for us and we weren’t as good as we’d like to be.

“Sheffield United did what they did well. First half they were better than us and deservedly it was 1-0.”

The result marked United’s third win in a row in the league and lifted the Blades to fifth in the table on 28 points, one behind Chelsea, who play Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday. Brighton remain in 13th on 20 points.cheap nike jerseys nfl

United boss Chris Wilder said he was pleased with his side’s performance, but was not sure their good run of away form could continue much longer.

“We did a job on them, should have had more possession, but we had the better chances on the counter-attack and we’re delighted to keep the away run going,” he said. “But the next two [away games] are at Manchester City and Liverpool.”

Angels’ Shohei Ohtani completes Tommy John rehab, eyes 2-way role in ’20

Los Angeles Angels star Shohei Ohtani has completed his throwing program, the final step in his rehabilitation from Tommy John surgery, and was cleared to return to his native Japan, where he will rest and recover for his anticipated return to a two-way role in 2020.

Ohtani spent the 2019 season as a designated hitter, rehabilitating from surgery to reconstruct the ulnar collateral ligament in his right (throwing) elbow in October 2018. He had been throwing off a mound for more than two months before having to undergo season-ending surgery to address a rare knee condition around the middle of September, which prompted him to shut down his throwing progression for a couple of months.china nike nfl jerseys cheap

The Angels did not disclose how often Ohtani threw off the mound when he restarted his throwing program. They are still working to define a blueprint for building him back up as a starter for the 2020 season.8

The assumption is that Ohtani, 25, will start once a week rather than every five games, which would prompt the occasional need for a sixth starter. An innings limit might be implemented. Ohtani can DH on the days he doesn’t start, though new manager Joe Maddon floated the possibility during the winter meetings of Ohtani also hitting on his start days.cheap nfl nike jerseys from china

Ohtani currently makes up one-fifth of an Angels rotation that also includes Andrew Heaney, Griffin Canning and the recently added Dylan Bundy and Julio Teheran. Ohtani’s recovery, combined with Heaney’s injury history and Canning’s youth, motivated the Angels to add durable starters in Bundy and Teheran, with the latter agreeing Thursday on a one-year, $9 million contract.

The Angels still have the financial flexibility to add a top-tier free-agent starter such as Hyun-Jin Ryu or Dallas Keuchel, though they also have a hole at catcher.

Joe Smith, Astros agree to $8 million, 2-year contract

Reliever Joe Smith and the Houston Astros have agreed to an $8 million, two-year contract.

The 35-year-old Smith spent the last two seasons with the Astros and is 6-1 with a 3.06 ERA in 84 appearances for Houston. Smith missed the beginning of last season recovering from Achilles tendon surgery before returning in July and posting a 1.80 ERA in 28 regular-season appearances.cheap nfl nike jerseys from china7

Smith didn’t allow a run in eight of his 10 postseason appearances in 2019 and finished the playoffs with a 3.12 ERA.china nike nfl jerseys cheap

The right-hander has a 2.98 ERA in 782 career appearances. He gets $4 million in each season under the deal announced Monday.

He was coming off a $15 million, two-year deal with the Astros.

For Giannis and Bucks, a challenging week is only beginning

Their 18-game win streak was snapped two wins shy of the franchise record of 20 set during the 1970-71 championship season. Now Milwaukee’s focus shifts to Thursday, when the Eastern Conference leaders will welcome the West-leading Los Angeles Lakers to town.

“Yeah, obviously. It’s gonna be a good game, gonna be a test for us,” said Giannis Antetokounmpo, who scored a game-high 48 points to go with 14 rebounds and four assists Monday against the Mavericks. “The Lakers are one of the best teams in the league.

“We’ve gotta bring it, gotta play good basketball, gotta move the ball, but obviously as a team, we don’t wanna lose two in a row,” he added. “We’ve just gotta go out there and try to get a win.”

The Bucks have lost consecutive games in the regular season just once since Mike Budenholzer took over as head coach entering the 2018-19 season. To avoid doing so a second time will mean beating a team led by LeBron James and Anthony Davis.cheap nfl nike jerseys china

“They’ve got two of the top-five players in the world, so …” Antetokounmpo said.8

The Lakers have a top-five offense, but they’re average at taking care of the ball, ranking 17th in turnover percentage entering Tuesday’s road game against the Indiana Pacers. Only the Bucks and Mavericks shoot better, but the Lakers aren’t nearly as potent from 3. They’re more about interior offense.

That actually fits the Bucks’ strengths defensively. The Bucks allow 12.9 field goals made per game inside the restricted area and only 54.5% in that zone, both league-wide lows.

However, for the Bucks to beat the Lakers will require more than the one-man show that was on display Monday. Antetokounmpo is capable of stuffing the stat sheet, as he showed in the loss. But he got little help. Against Dallas, he scored or assisted on 59 of Milwaukee’s 82 points (72%) when he was on the floor, per ESPN Stats & Information research. He scored 48 points, and the rest of the starters scored 23.nfl nike jersey cheap

The Bucks can’t afford to shoot 41.9% from the field and 26.8% from 3 again. Some of the poor shooting Monday can be attributed to missing good looks. According to Second Spectrum tracking data, the Bucks had an effective field goal percentage (eFG%) of 47.1, despite a quantified shot quality (qSQ) of 54.1, meaning Milwaukee had an eFG% much worse than expected given the quality of the attempts.

Still, even if the open looks start falling Thursday, the Bucks can’t rely as heavily on Antetokounmpo versus James and Davis. They’ll need a total team effort. 2019 All-Star Khris Middleton, former Laker Brook Lopez, Wesley Matthews and Donte DiVincenzo (stepping up in the absence of the injured Eric Bledsoe) have to make an impact.

Anthony Davis sits with ankle sprain in Lakers’ loss to Pacers

Anthony Davis did not play in the Lakers’ 105-102 loss to the Indiana Pacers on Tuesday due to a mild ankle sprain.cheap nfl nike jersey

It was the second game Davis has missed this season. He is leading the team in points (27.4), rebounds (9.3) and blocks (2.6) per game.

In Davis’ absence, Jared Dudley made his first start of the season for the Lakers (24-4), who are tied with the Milwaukee Bucks for the NBA’s best record.7

Davis tweaked the ankle during Sunday’s win against the Atlanta Hawks. He grabbed at his right ankle when fouled on a layup in the closing minutes, but he was able to finish the game.

He was listed as questionable on the injury report leading into Tuesday’s game.cheap nfl nike jerseys china

Davis has dealt with rib and shoulder soreness this season.

Kyle Kuzma (ankle) was also out for Los Angeles, as previously announced.