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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.”

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.

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 says Lakers trio urged 50-point effort

It wasn’t Anthony Davis’ idea to score 50 points Sunday in the Los Angeles Lakers’ 142-125 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Avery Bradley first suggested it to him at halftime, when Davis was already up to 27 points. DeMarcus Cousins then encouraged him to keep chasing it during second-half timeouts. And finally, Rajon Rondo instructed Davis to go get one more bucket when his point total was up to 48.

“The team was telling me, they weren’t telling me how much I had, but they were saying, ‘Get 50,'” Davis said after logging the fourth 50-point game of his career. “Usually I don’t really pay attention. I just go out there and play and try to get the win. But it’s hard when your teammates are constantly reminding you, ‘Go get 50! Go get 50!’ So they made sure I was constantly reminded.”

James finished with 32 points (including a 6-for-8 mark from 3-point range) and 13 assists. He assisted on eight of Davis’ field goals, including setting up the one that gave Davis the half-century mark with a 7-foot floater over the Wolves’ Jordan Bell.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

It was the most assists James has had to any one teammate in a game this season and the second most to any teammate in a game in his 17-year career, according to research by ESPN Stats & Information. (Last March, he dished 10 assists to JaVale McGee.)

“For me and AD, we just, it starts with us,” James said. “If we’re on the same page it makes it a lot easier for the rest of the ballclub, and that’s both on and off the floor. So we’re just trying to lead by example, lead by command, lead by our voices, lead by our play and see where it takes us. It’s been pretty good for us so far.”8

Davis became just the second teammate of James’ career to score 50 in a game. Kyrie Irving did it twice for the Cleveland Cavaliers during the 2014-15 season. James didn’t play in one of those games, and the other went to overtime.

Davis did his damage in 39 minutes, going 20-for-29 from the field and 10-for-10 from the line.

“Just keep feeding him,” James said. “He was efficient all night. Getting the ball exactly where he wanted it: midpost, low post, perimeter. He can do it all, so it’s our job to continue giving him the ball.”cheap nfl jerseys china nike

It was Davis’ third game with 40-plus points this season, and it came on the heels of a 39-point effort at Portland on Friday. He and James became the first pair of Lakers teammates to combine for 70-plus points in back-to-back games since Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal.

“The first thing that sticks out to me is that he has four steals, a block and great defense for all 39 minutes he was out there,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said of Davis. “He played strong on that end of the floor and anchored us, and to still go for 50 in what I feel like is an old-school, smashmouth way of getting 50 — no 3s? Right? [He shoots] 20-for-29 and then living at the free throw line. Post-ups, offensive rebounds, crashes, all those types of things. Just an old-school performance and one for the ages.”

Raptors’ Masai Ujiri won’t be charged for shoving deputy

California prosecutors announced Tuesday that they won’t charge Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri for shoving a sheriff’s deputy after the deciding game of the NBA Finals in Oakland in June.

The Alameda County district attorney’s office announced the decision Tuesday afternoon, when the Raptors were in Toronto receiving their championship rings for defeating the Golden State Warriors.

The DA’s office said it met with Ujiri and his attorneys on Monday and decided the matter was better handled “outside of the courtroom.”nike nfl jerseys for cheap

“I am extremely pleased with the decision,” Ujiri said in a statement issued through the team from Toronto, where the Raptors opened their regular season against the New Orleans Pelicans.

“While these past months have been difficult waiting for a determination on this matter, I understand the nature of the process and am appreciative of the efforts of all involved,” Ujiri said. “I am happy that this is now behind me and I look forward to the task of bringing another Championship to the City of Toronto.”6

The Raptors had just won their first title after taking Game 6 of the NBA Finals at Oracle Arena on June 13 when Ujiri went onto the court to join his celebrating team.

A sheriff’s deputy stopped him because Ujiri didn’t provide the proper on-court credential, leading to a shoving match that was partially captured on video.cheap nike nfl jerseys china

Several bystanders intervened, and Ujiri got onto the court without displaying any credentials.

An attorney for the deputy contended that the deputy suffered a concussion. The sheriff’s office said only that he was placed on medical leave. The office filed a report of misdemeanor battery with the district attorney’s office.

An effort Tuesday to contact a spokesman for the sheriff’s office was unsuccessful. Messages to the Deputy Sheriffs’ Association of Alameda County seeking comment from the deputy weren’t immediately returned.

Ujiri attorney Robert Beles said his client is gratified and said the DA’s office conducted a thorough investigation.

“It was definitely the right conclusion,” he said, calling Ujiri “a decent human being and a good man.”

How investing $150K in Spencer Dinwiddie would actually work

At the end of the 2018 NBA offseason, Brooklyn Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie was hanging out in Los Angeles with Jeremy Adams, a close friend from their days at the University of Colorado. The two played basketball at Boulder, and they share an enthusiasm for the world of blockchain technology and entrepreneurial pursuits.

Dinwiddie had thoroughly enjoyed the process of developing his own shoe the previous year outside the sneaker industrial complex. He and Adams wondered: What other opportunities existed out there?

“With the shoe, we started exploring ways to try to take control of the brand,” Dinwiddie said.buy nike nfl jerseys cheap

For years, Dinwiddie threw himself into the world of markets — both traditional sectors like financial services and newfangled corners of the ecosystem like cryptocurrency. These days, it’s normal to walk into an NBA practice facility and find a hard copy of a pitch deck lying around the locker room. But Dinwiddie isn’t just into investing; he is a guy with a more holistic interest in how money works. How is value transferred in an economy? How do you make markets more inclusive? What’s a cool way to bring liquidity to an illiquid, unrealized sector?4

On that last question, Dinwiddie realized the next step in his entrepreneurial journey was to create a financial instrument that would allow him and other athletes to fully maximize their upside. Why not just be the investment vehicle, allowing people who believe in that athlete to cash in when he makes good on his potential?

The idea of athletes or celebrities securitizing their talents has precedent. In 1997, musician David Bowie worked with an investment bank to sell “Bowie Bonds.” Investors were paid a fixed annual return of 7.9% over 10 years for bonds that were backed by Bowie’s intellectual property — in other words, his recordings and songs — and his rights to royalties. Chicago White Sox slugger Frank Thomas took a long look at securitizing his contract in 1998, but the plan got hung up over skittishness about clauses in his deal that would nullify the contract for scenarios like a non-sports-related injury or player strike.cheap nike nfl jerseys china

Dinwiddie plans to offer what he has named his Professional Athlete Investment Token (PAInT) as soon as this week. The offering has a minimum investment of $150,000, and it would be available only to accredited investors on a new platform that he hopes will eventually host dozens of athletes who follow his lead.

The NBA has taken issue with Dinwiddie’s efforts, and the two sides have been debating whether issuing a PAInT would violate the league’s collective bargaining agreement (CBA). Dinwiddie is hopeful that the measures he has taken over the past few weeks will persuade the league of its permissibility under the CBA.

Jets’ Darnold cleared, to start against Cowboys

New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold was cleared for contact and will start Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys, the team announced.

Darnold, diagnosed four weeks ago with mononucleosis, had been dealing with an enlarged spleen — a residual effect of the illness. He said he felt well enough to play last week, but there was still some swelling in his spleen, the team said.

Darnold, speaking Monday afternoon in his weekly radio spot on The Michael Kay Show on ESPN New York, said: “I feel good. Energy is awesome. Just looking forward to playing this week, but have to wait for doctor’s orders.”cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

His return should provide an emotional boost for the reeling Jets (0-4), who have scored only two touchdowns on offense. The tension in the locker room prompted a players-only meeting on Monday. Players said they called the meeting in an attempt to remain unified.

Also returning is tight end Chris Herndon, who served a four-game suspension for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy. Herndon hasn’t yet been added to the roster; he has an exemption.5

The good news for Darnold is that he had two full days of practice last week. He and the team were so confident he’d be cleared that he worked exclusively with the starters on Wednesday and Thursday. Late Thursday, he was ruled out after an ultrasound and blood test.

Scrambling, the Jets had to start Luke Falk for the second straight week. He was manhandled in a 31-6 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. He was sacked nine times and committed three turnovers, two of which were returned for touchdowns.

Fearing a concussion, the Jets pulled Falk after his ninth sack. They inserted David Fales, their fourth quarterback of the season. Falk cleared concussion protocol, the team said, and is available this week.cheap nfl jerseys china nike

The Jets, off to their worst start since 2003, hope Darnold can galvanize a punchless and mistake-prone offense.

“It’s probably more than just Sam getting out there — we’ve got a lot of other things to clean up — but Sam is able to hide things sometimes for us,” Gase said. “If we make a mistake, he covers it up. We just need to do a better job as a group, making sure we’re all on the same page.”

Fantasy fallout: Goodbye Saquon Barkley, hello Daniel Jones

Normally you can’t accuse this column of any sort of East Coast bias. But the New York Giants changed that this week by becoming the center of the fantasy universe. For better and for worse.

We lost the consensus No. 1 draft pick, Saquon Barkley, to a high ankle sprain for an estimated 4-8 weeks. But we gained “Danny Dimes,” thanks to the surprisingly explosive debut of rookie quarterback Daniel Jones — which should also boost the value of tight end Evan Engram and receivers Sterling Shepard and Golden Tate, according to ESPN Giants reporter Jordan Raanan.

“Engram and Shepard, they’re like on Cloud 9 right now,” said Raanan, who said it’s no coincidence that both of them had 100-yard games in Jones’ debut — because not only does he throw the ball deep with accuracy, but he also keeps plays alive with his legs longer than previous QB Eli Manning did.5

Raanan had a great breakdown of how Jones’ mobility played such a big role in the Giants’ 32-31 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, in which he threw for 336 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 28 yards and two more TDs.cheap nfl nike jerseys china

Raanan stopped short of predicting Shepard will become a top-20 fantasy receiver, because he thinks Shepard and Tate could be somewhat interchangeable when Tate returns from a suspension in Week 5.

However, Raanan does believe that Jones himself can be a legitimate fantasy asset — especially when you throw in those bonus points he can provide in the running game.

“I mean, he’s done it pretty consistently,” Raanan said. “He completed 85% of his passes in the preseason. That’s really good no matter who you’re playing against. And he’s not throwing dink and dunks — he’s willing to throw it down the field. That’s probably the thing he does best. He averaged 9.8 air yards per attempt.

“And he’s gonna put up numbers because their defense is not very good. So they’re gonna have to score points.”cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

Raanan did offer some notes of caution, though. For one thing, fumbling has been an Achilles’ heel for Jones, with three of them in the preseason and three of them already in limited regular-season action. And, of course, the Giants’ offense will lose some potency while Barkley is sidelined, especially when they face top defenses such as New England and Minnesota in Weeks 5-6.

As for replacing Barkley, Raanan said he thinks third-year RB Wayne Gallman is “their guy” and that he should see around 15 carries per game. He certainly won’t replace the production level of Barkley — and Raanan doesn’t think he will see nearly as much work in the passing game, some of which could go to fullback Elijhaa Penny. But Raanan said he’s a little higher on Gallman’s running ability than others seem to be and thinks he could have moderate success because the opportunity will be there.

James Conner, Steelers’ running game struggling to help ailing offense

The key to a successful offensive game plan for a first-time starting quarterback is generally simple enough.

Run the ball.

With quarterback Mason Rudolph starting for the first time, the Pittsburgh Steelers entered Sunday’s game against the San Francisco 49ers with the intention of leaning on third-year running back James Conner.

The 49ers loaded the box early and often with eight defenders, trying to force Rudolph to throw. Pittsburgh, however, couldn’t get anything going in the passing game, settling for short throws barely past the line of scrimmage. And with the 49ers’ stacked front, the Steelers couldn’t run the ball effectively, either, creating a lackluster offense in Rudolph’s starting debut.cheap nfl nike jersey

Conner ran the ball just once on the first two drives before opening up the third drive with back-to-back carries. He got the ball once more on the drive, one that ended in a punt just before halftime. That capped off a half in which he carried the ball seven times for 18 yards. His longest run went for just 5 yards.6

It wasn’t until the fourth quarter that Conner finally had a double-digit run, picking up 10 yards to open a drive that ended with Rudolph’s 39-yard touchdown pass to Diontae Johnson.

It was the kind of run the Steelers needed from Conner all afternoon but got just once.

When his number was called again in the fourth quarter to milk the clock after the 49ers’ fifth turnover, Conner ran for 5 yards and then fumbled it away two plays later, giving the 49ers the ball just outside the red zone.cheap nfl jerseys china nike

“That never happens to James,” Rudolph said of the fumble. “James is an unbelievable player. We were still being aggressive in that situation and mixed the run with the pass.”

Those were Conner’s final three carries of the afternoon, and the only three carries of the fourth quarter.

Conner finished the game with 45 yards on 13 carries — the most he’s had this season. But it’s a far cry from his standard a season ago.

Last season, he had only three games in which he carried the ball fewer than 13 times, and the Steelers went 1-2 in those games. The Steelers were 7-2-1 last year when Connor rushed at least 13 times.

Through three games this season, Conner is averaging an anemic 2.9 yards per carry. He has rushed just 34 times for 97 yards — far from his numbers through three games a season ago. In the 2018 three-game opening stretch, Conner rushed for 213 yards on 54 carries and scored three touchdowns. He has just one this season.

Curry commits to Olympics: ‘That is the plan’

Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry is committed to playing for Team USA in next summer’s Olympic Games in Tokyo.

“That is the plan, for sure,” Curry said in an interview with ESPN’s Rachel Nichols. “You know, obviously knock on wood, you don’t want any injuries or things like that to interfere.”

“Definitely wanna go,” Curry said. “I’ve never been on the Olympic team. I’ve been on two World Cup championship gold-medal teams. But the Olympics is the experience that I want. And next year will hopefully be it.”nfl nike jerseys cheap china

Team USA recently finished seventh in the FIBA World Cup, the country’s worst finish ever. The roster was composed mostly of players put together at the last minute, after multiple high-profile players backed out of playing. The embarrassing finish for the proud basketball country prompted Team USA managing director Jerry Colangelo to say that he would “remember” players who “didn’t show up.” Curry’s declaration figures to be the first signal that other American superstars will join the former MVP in trying to win a fourth straight Olympic gold medal for Team USA.5

Curry says he is confident that the Americans can still reign supreme when they put their best players on the floor.

“We’re still the best,” Curry said. “If we get the guys that are supposed to be there, in terms of, you know, representing us in the Olympic stage and the commitment’s been there, and I think it’ll be there next year.”

Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard said during a trip to Sydney this week that he planned on being a part of Team USA’s gold medal try.

“I plan on being a part of that. I plan on playing,” Lillard told news.com.au.cheap nike nfl jerseys from china

Curry would join his head coach, Steve Kerr, on Team USA. Kerr is an assistant on Gregg Popovich’s Team USA staff.

Curry also is sorting through his new reality as a member of a Warriors squad that comes into the season after a massive roster reconstruction that started when Kevin Durant signed with the Brooklyn Nets at the beginning of the free-agency period.

“At the end of the day, we live in an age where choice at the forefront, and K, you know, made a decision for himself and you can’t argue that,” Curry said. “I wish we could still play with K. He’s an unbelievable talent, unbelievable person. We accomplished a lot together. But — you know, things have changed a little bit. So you obviously wish him the best, obviously with his recovery first and foremost and things on and off the court. But we’re gonna have to battle down the road. So this should be a fun, new experience on that front, too.”

Curry acknowledged that he found out about Durant’s decision to sign with the Nets as he flew to New York to check in on his now former teammate.