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Harris, Butler lead first ever 76ers win in OKC

Jimmy Butler’s magnanimous presence in the locker room is unmistakable. He walks around singing loudly along to songs, taking his personal portable speaker to the showers and barely missing a lyric while he courts a lighthearted debate with Mike Scott and Jonathon Simmons — a debate drowned out by Butler’s country music.

There has been a lot written, said and assumed about how Butler fits with the Philadelphia 76ers and what happens beyond this season, but as coach Brett Brown said after their 108-104 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder, Butler was the one trying to bring everything together.china nike nfl jerseys cheap

“There was an unselfishness,” Brown said. “I think that connects the dots to so many things. It’s a very unselfish group, and I thought Jimmy Butler tonight, especially, went way out of his way to live by that standard we’ve set. He was our bell ringer tonight.”7

The Process methodically, incrementally, painstakingly built the 76ers, but this group has sort of been assembled on the fly this season. Butler’s addition was the first significant shake-up, but following that with adding Tobias Harris right before the trade deadline is the big swing. And without Joel Embiid, the Sixers leaned on Butler’s playmaking (20 points, 8 rebounds and 8 assists) and Harris’ scoring (32 points on 11-of-19 shooting). After the Thunder tied the game 93-93 with with 4 minutes, 40 seconds left, Harris went on an 8-0 run by himself as the Sixers took control.

“Take the shots you’re comfortable making, and he made ’em,” Butler said of Harris. “We want him to continue to be that player for us, and he’s going to win us a lot of games.”cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

The win broke a 19-game losing streak to the Thunder. It was the Sixers’ first win against OKC since Nov. 15, 2008, and only the second ever against the team since it relocated to Oklahoma City. Looking around the Sixers’ locker room, the longest tenured player is T.J. McConnell, but he has been with the team since only 2015, part of seven of those losses. How different were things on that November day in 2008? The teams took 21 3-pointers

Fantasy NBA Daily Notes: LeBron vs. Giannis

The Magic outscored the Warriors 14-2 in the final three minutes to pull out a compelling victory on Thursday. Orlando missed just one shot from the field during this clutch stretch, while Golden State went 1-of-7. This stretch is tied for the Warriors’ worst point differential in the final three minutes of a game under Steve Kerr.cheap nfl jerseys china nike

The Magic finished 8-3 in February and led the NBA in defensive efficiency (100) and net efficiency during that span (plus-11.9). Thursday also marked the Magic’s 18th outright win as underdogs, second most in the NBA behind the Hawks (19).6

It’s best to embrace variance when it comes to the Magic’s scoring microwave, Terrence Ross. The former Washington Huskie scored 28 points a week ago in Toronto against the team that drafted him and yet followed that with a three-point showing against the Knicks on Tuesday. Against the Warriors, Ross bounced back yet again with a team-best plus-17 net rating and scored 16 points off the bench in the critical win, evidence he’s going to shoot his way through any interim cold stretches.china nike nfl jerseys cheap

During Orlando’s stellar recent stretch of play, Ross has averaged 17.8 PPG, 4.2 RPG, and most importantly 3.2 3PG the past 12 games. Another quietly crucial element to Ross’ game is elite free throw efficiency, as he’s made 87 percent for the season and 96.6 percent from the stripe the past month. Ross doesn’t do much beyond shoot and score, but he’s a difference-maker in those categories and remains available in free agency in more than 60 percent of ESPN leagues. Ross should continue to thrive as Orlando’s version of Lou Williams in the weeks ahead.

How Matthew Dellavedova is inspiring the Cleveland Cavaliers

Matthew Dellavedova finds himself in a different situation in his second stint with the Cleveland Cavaliers than when he left in the summer of 2016. Back then, the team was coming off its first NBA championship win, and would subsequently make the Finals for another two years after Dellavedova signed with the Milwaukee Bucks.cheap nfl nike jerseys from china

Now, back at the Cavs after a mid-season trade, Dellavedova returned not to a championship — or even a playoff caliber team — but to a squad struggling to find its identity, not to mention wins.

Dellavedova says it was “different” coming from Milwaukee back to Cleveland.5

“I guess coming from Milwaukee where they’re top of the East, we’ve got some work to do here,” Dellavedova tells ESPN. “You just got to look at it as a challenge and see the long term vision, and make sure we’re working on getting better.”

A new, but familiar, environment also means that Dellavedova has gotten a chance to play more after falling out of the Bucks rotation towards the end of his tenure there. In just 12 appearances for Milwaukee, Dellavedova averaged 8.1 minutes and 1.7 points per game – both career lows. Since being traded in early December, he’s played 33 games for the Cavs — mainly as a backup to Collin Sexton — but Dellavedova has seen his own productivity increase. So far he’s averaging 7.5 points, 4.4 assists in just over 20 minutes a night.

Dellavedova says he’s enjoying the opportunities to help the young Cavalier players develop further.cheap nfl jerseys china nike

“It’s been great getting out there and playing, especially the last couple of months you can see the improvement,” he said.

Wherever he’s been, Dellavedova has been lauded for his leadership skills. In Milwaukee, coach Mike Budenholzer praised Dellavedova for being one on the locker room leaders, despite not playing many minutes. Back in Cleveland, it’s no different. Head coach Larry Drew appreciates having a player with Dellavedova’s pedigree to mentor the young players on his team.

Colts center Ryan Kelly expects to play in AFC wild-card game

The Colts are on their way to having their starting offensive line back together for the AFC wild-card playoff game against the Houston Texans on Saturday.

Center Ryan Kelly, the anchor of the offensive line, was a full participant in practice Wednesday. The Pro Bowl alternate said he has every intention of playing against the Texans after missing the regular-season finale at Tennessee with a neck injury.

Kelly suffered the neck injury, which caused pressure on his nerves and impacted his arm strength, against the New York Giants in Week 16.nike nfl jerseys cheap china

“It was a big week last week, and I felt after the [Tennessee] game and going through some walkthrough stuff [Tuesday], I felt like the strength was back,” Kelly said. “Doing some things to hopefully help my neck stay in the same spot and not move around too much. Other than that, I feel well.”6

The Colts will practice Thursday and have a walk-through Friday before departing for Houston. As long as Kelly doesn’t have any setbacks, the Colts will have their starting line back together for the first time since Nov. 18.

The Colts tied New Orleans for the fewest sacks allowed in the NFL with just 18 during the regular season.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

To no surprise, wide receiver T.Y. Hilton did not practice Wednesday as he continues to nurse his injured ankle. He originally suffered the injury during the second quarter of the Dec. 9 game at Houston.

Hilton said Tuesday that he will be playing vs. Houston, where he has 932 yards receiving and seven touchdowns in seven career games. He has only practiced twice, albeit as a limited participant, since the week leading up that Dec. 9 game due to ankle and shoulder injuries.

“[The ankle is] not allowing me to practice, which I love doing,” Hilton said. “I just have to rest it and get it as healthy as I can for Saturday.”

Where Lakers and Celtics can look for inspiration

Even with a disappointing loss Monday in Detroit where officiating upset them, the Pacers are 8-2 in February. They’re back in third place in the East. They’re second in defensive rating in the league for the month (speaking of teams you probably haven’t been paying attention to, the Orlando Magic are first).

Coach Nate McMillan has sold his team on role definition, which is hard enough with your average NBA squad. Considering McMillan has six key players who will be free agents this summer and another, Domantas Sabonis, playing for an extension, that’s a stacked deck that he has been able to manage.cheap nike nfl jersey

McMillan, president Kevin Pritchard and GM Chad Buchanan have an open-door policy when discussing free agency internally. If a player wants to talk about it, management is unafraid. They run a business, and in Indiana it’s not a bottomless money business, but they’ve tried to be transparent when the topic arises.6

Whether that’s a secret to success or not, the Pacers don’t play like a team full of guys worried about their next paycheck. They happily play an egalitarian offense that spreads it around with seemingly minimal ego or agenda issues. They’ve had at least five double-figure scorers 52 times in 61 games, the highest number in the league. They’ve had seven players in double figures 12 times; they’re 11-1 in those games.

They have veterans who are leaders, Thaddeus Young especially according to those around the team, and players who seem to be agreeable to platooning — particularly their point guards and big men — depending on matchups. And if they aren’t, it hasn’t become public.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

Their March schedule is brutal and they might not hang on to the No. 3 seed until the wire. But their professionalism during some challenges has been exemplary. And frankly, it could be an example to some of their peers out there.

Namely, one of the teams that’s eating their dust at the moment is Boston. The Celtics have been anything but together for so much of this season. A root has been Kyrie Irving and some of his younger teammates, who have grated on one another as they’ve looked to work toward opposite purposes repeatedly during the season.

Aaron Hicks signs 7-year extension with Yankees

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman estimated that he and Hicks’ representatives began discussing the extension in December. Within the past few days, the conversations picked up.

Cashman’s message to Hicks once the deal was complete? “I’m betting on you.”cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

“He has more gas in his tank, he has more mountains to climb,” Cashman said. “We’re excited by a player who came here that wasn’t a finished product and had a lot of upside. We engaged him on a lot of levels about the talent that we thought he possessed.”

A .236 career hitter, Hicks was traded to the Yankees from Minnesota after the 2015 season.6

After scuffling to a .217 batting average his first season in pinstripes and struggling to stay healthy his second year in the Bronx, Hicks had a career year in 2018. He set career highs in games played (137), homers (27), RBIs (79), runs scored (90) and WAR (4.7).
“I want to win a World Series,” Hicks said then. “I’m tired of losing. We’ve come so close, but I’m tired of saying we came close.”

Hicks echoed those sentiments Monday when he said he believes the Yankees are constructed well enough to contend for nike nfl jerseys cheap chinachampionships throughout the entirety of his new contract.

Other Yankees feel the same way now that Hicks and the recently re-signed Luis Severino are locked into their long-term future.

“[Hicks] is a big part of this team and a big part of our success. … I always love playing by him,” Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge said. “To hear he got seven years, we’ll be playing together for a long time.”

Colts name former OL coach Howard Mudd as senior offensive assistant

Colts coach Frank Reich is doing his best to make sure his offensive line doesn’t have a drop-off next season.

The Colts have hired longtime offensive line coach Howard Mudd as a senior offensive assistant, the team announced Thursday. Mudd will work with newly hired offensive line coach Chris Strausser and assistant line coach Klayton Adams.china nike nfl jerseys cheap

Reich surprised many when he parted ways with Dave DeGuglielmo last month after the Colts’ line gave up an NFL-low 18 sacks and was arguably the league’s best overall unit last season.5

Mudd, who has more than 40 years of NFL experience as a coach, will provide added experience for Strausser, who spent the past two seasons in Denver, first as the offensive tackles coach in 2017 and then assistant offensive line coach last season.

Mudd spent 12 seasons as Indianapolis’ offensive line coach from 1998 to 2009, when the group consistently was ranked as one of the NFL’s best. During that timespan, with Peyton Manning as quarterback, the Colts gave up more than 23 sacks in a season just once. They gave up 15 sacks or less in a season five times.cheap nfl nike jerseys from china

That’s all good news for quarterback Andrew Luck and a starting offensive line that’s currently under contract for next season.

The Colts also announced Thursday that Marcus Brady has been promoted from assistant quarterbacks coach to quarterbacks coach.

Don’t tell James Conner he’s Steelers’ RB of the future

But James Conner doesn’t exactly feel settled. His 13 touchdowns in 13 games in his first full season as a starter won’t make him ease up. Nor will Le’Veon Bell’s yearlong holdout, which makes Bell likely too caustic for a locker room return.cheap nfl jerseys china nike

In efforts to keep the edge that got him this far, Conner will enter his third season with the hunger of a rookie looking for a job.

“You’ve got to earn it every day,” he said in late December when asked if he’s the tailback of the Steelers’ future. “It’s never enough when you think you’ve done enough. That’s when you start to get on the decline. … You’ve got to earn it every day, practice hard and show you belong. I definitely don’t feel like I’ve done enough yet.”6

That’s exactly what the Steelers like to hear, but Conner is selling himself a bit short. From teammates up to ownership, the Steelers have praised Conner’s development in a sophomore season that included 973 rushing yards, 12 rushing TDs and an AFC Offensive Player of the Month award. Conner added 55 catches for 497 yards in a Steelers offense that relied heavily on the back for easy yardage off dump-offs.

It’s not that Conner hasn’t enjoyed the journey. He savored the moment of his first Pro Bowl, the culmination of what he calls a “fun ride.” The Steelers needed to look no further than the sideline of the Pro Bowl practice fields at Disney’s Wide World of Sports on Thursday, when Conner and wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster took selfies with fans in the same row while linebacker T.J. Watt conducted interviews nearby. Three of the team’s top draft picks from 2017 are now All-Stars.nike nfl jerseys cheap china

After surviving Hodgkin’s lymphoma at Pitt to captivate college football, only to outplay his third-round billing, Conner doesn’t overlook his impact on others.

“Did a little reflecting. Pro Bowl is a big honor, just from everything I’ve overcome,” Conner said. “It’s an honor, really, to be a Pro Bowler. From where I’ve come from, being drafted late, overcoming surgeries and diagnosis and things like that. Everybody’s got their own story. I’m just trying to add to mine. It’s cool to be an inspiration to others.”

Steelers’ ‘perfect catch’ turns 10: When Santonio Holmes won a Super Bowl

After Larry Fitzgerald split a sea of Pittsburgh Steelers defenders to give the Arizona Cardinals the lead with 2:37 left in Super Bowl XLIII, Santonio Holmes told himself he wouldn’t be denied again.

He thought of missed opportunities in his football career, from underwhelming performances in meaningful high school games to redshirting during Ohio State’s 2002 national championship season.cheap nfl nike jerseys china

He had to be the difference this time, so he walked up to his quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger, who was positioned close to offensive coordinator Bruce Arians, and tapped him on the hip.5

“I said, ‘[No.] 7, I want the ball right now,'” Holmes, 34, recalled of his words before the game-winning drive. “‘No disrespect to the other guys. I want the ball.’ He never said anything. He just threw it to me.”

Ten years ago Friday, Holmes made a play that will forever live in black-and-gold folklore. The freeze frame says it all: Holmes tapping his two feet on the Cardinal-painted end zone as three defenders closed in, securing the ball while bracing for the fall out of bounds from the far corner.

Roethlisberger delivered the kind of throw that inspires shoe ads. The brilliant 6-yard touchdown with 42 seconds left gave the Steelers a 27-23 lead, secured their sixth world championship and changed Holmes’ life forever.cheap nfl jerseys china nike

“Millions are watching you. What are you going to do now?” Holmes said about his mentality before the play. “You didn’t ask God to put you in this place for you not to do what you were supposed to do.

Premier League will lose its most unique player when Mousa Dembele leaves Tottenham

Promising young footballers are regularly compared to a current or former great and it’s usually based upon a couple of attributes: the new Thierry Henry, the new Lionel Messi, the new Ronaldo. They rarely live up to the billing, but it’s a useful shortcut for describing their style. It’s difficult, though, to imagine anyone being an accurate “new Mousa Dembele” — not because the Belgian was so magnificent that no one could possibly come close, but because Dembele is unlike anyone else before or since.
Rewind to summer 2010, when Dembele joined Fulham. They’d just been defeated in the Europa League final, had lost Roy Hodgson to Liverpool and appointed Mark Hughes as their new manager. Dembele was a promising signing, having won the Eredivisie with Louis van Gaal’s AZ, but he was regarded as a forward. The Guardian’s report described him as “the Belgium striker” while noting that “he can also play on the wing.” Hughes said he was “strong and quick, and will add another dimension to our attacking options.”nfl cheap jerseys nike

Dembele came off the bench against Manchester United and then made his full debut at Blackpool, where he played just off Bobby Zamora and assisted both goals in a 2-2 draw. The next weekend he was again Zamora’s strike partner in a home clash with Wolves. Zamora suffered a broken leg in the first half but Dembele came to Fulham’s rescue with two goals, securing a dramatic 2-1 win.

“We hope Moussa can get the goals — there’s a big onus on him now that Bobby’s out,” said Hughes. That made sense: he’d managed two goals in two starts. Yet despite playing the remainder of the season up front, Dembele didn’t manage another goal until his final game of the season, a 5-2 home defeat to Liverpool. In fact, he was so lacking as a goal-scoring threat that his position changed entirely.6

The crucial change came in a home contest against Stoke the following February. When one journalist dared to tweet (presumably having been tipped off by a dressing room source) that Dembele would be starting alongside Danny Murphy in the engine room, he was widely mocked. This was a forward and a relentless dribbler; Fulham played two aggressive wingers. How would Martin Jol, who had replaced Hughes, be brave enough to use him in a midfield duo? But, sure enough, that’s what happened. With new signing Pavel Pogrebnyak playing up front and scoring on debut, Dembele was now a deep central midfielder.

“Dembele was playing in a deeper role than usual and the Belgian was clearly enjoying being able to dictate the play,” read the match report on Fulham’s website.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

“Dembele was impressing for the hosts despite playing in an unusual role alongside Danny Murphy in central midfield,” read the Daily Express. “The Belgium international was leading the Stoke defenders a merry dance.”

That set the tone for the rest of Dembele’s Premier League career: opponents found themselves unable to get close. This was 2012, a period when Barcelona still dominated European football and Spain were about to complete their hat-trick of international successes, a period when midfielders were essentially all about passing. But Dembele, while very reliable in possession, was largely about dribbling. It’s difficult to think of another central midfielder so adept at turning away from pressure, at slaloming past opponents to launch a quick break.