MLB Rumor Central: Could the Phillies deal Cameron Rupp?

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After a breakout first half, catcher Cameron Rupp Jerseys Jerseys May Jerseys have emerged as a valuable traDe Jerseys chip for the PhiLa JerseysDe Jerseyslphia PHill Jerseysies Jerseys Jerseys.

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Corey Seidman of CSNPHill suggests there could be a solid market for Rupp Jerseys, who is hitting .287 with 17 doubles, nine home runs and an .836 OPS.

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“Offense behind the pLa Jerseyste rarely has been more scarce than it is now, making Rupp Jerseys a valuable piece to have,” Seidman writes.

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The PHill Jerseysies Jerseys must De JerseysciDe Jerseys whether they view the 27-year-old Rupp Jerseys, who is not yet eligible for arbitration, as their catcher of the future. It is a pleasant problem for general manager Matt Klentak given the Phils have two catching prospects, AnDrew Jerseys Knapp and Jorge Alfaro Jerseys, who are close to being major-League Jerseys ready.

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How Allen Crabbe became Portland’s new $75 million man

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LAS VEGAS — With his NBA career at a crossroads, Allen Crabbe was committed to getting better.

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That commitment was pushed to the limit one night during the summer between Crabbe’s second and third seasons in the league, when his best friend, trainer and roommate, Casey Trujeque, wanted him to get up at the crack of dawn to attend a grueling Bikram Yoga class.

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Crabbe thought he was going to have the following day off, but Trujeque changed his mind, leading to an argument at the dinner table.

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“Who in their right mind would wake up at 5 a.m. to go to Bikram Yoga?” Trujeque loosely recalls Crabbe saying.

“A kid trying to make $80 million would,” Trujeque replied angrily before leaving the table and going to his room.

Trujeque did not set his alarm clock, figuring Crabbe would be sleeping in. But come 5 a.m., Trujeque received a knock on his door.

“Allen said, “Casey, let’s go,'” Trujeque recalled. “And right then and there I was like ‘Allen’s going to be successful.’ He really wants this.”

Editor’s PicksBlazers will re-sign Crabbe for 4 years, $75M

Allen Crabbe confirmed that the the Trail Blazers have matched the Brooklyn Nets Jerseys’ four-year, $75 million offer sheet, keeping the restricted free-agent guard in Portland.

Nets GM: Team moves on after free agent misses

It’s back to the drawing board for Nets general manager Sean Marks and the rest of the front office after Brooklyn lost out on Allen Crabbe and Tyler Johnson.

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Crabbe laughed upon having the story relayed to him.

“I got up and did it because when you do things you don’t want to do, you’re going to reap those benefits in the end,” Crabbe said. “That’s the only way you can get better: getting comfortable by doing things that are uncomfortable.”

After falling into the second round of the 2013 draft and barely playing in his first two seasons with the Portland Trail Blazers Jerseys, Crabbe worked out five times a week with Trujeque during the summer of 2015 — and he used that rigorous workout regimen as a springboard to post a career year in which he averaged 10.3 points and shot 39.4 percent from 3-point range in 81 games.

The 24-year-old restricted free-agent’s reward: a staggering four-year, $75 million offer sheet from the Brooklyn Nets Jerseys, which the Blazers matched on Sunday to keep him in Portland.

Not bad for a guy who had made all of $2.6 million in his first three seasons combined.

“It’s a reward for working hard, staying patient and trusting the process,” said Crabbe, who switched agents before the free-agency process began and also received interest from the Philadelphia 76ers Jerseys and Sacramento Kings Jerseys.

“I could’ve given up, but I did everything that the organization asked of me and just waited my turn. Once we had all those roster changes, I knew there was going to be an opportunity, and I just made sure I didn’t miss out on it.”

For Crabbe, the new deal was worth a career of ups-and-downs.

Crabbe and Trujeque met on the AAU travel circuit in Los Angeles when they were in eighth grade, and the duo ended up becoming teammates at Price High School. From there, their paths diverged — with Crabbe going on to star at California and Trujeque getting injured at Montana State and quitting basketball to focus on training athletes — but they always remained in close contact.

After Crabbe fell to No. 31 in the draft — largely due to a right foot injury he suffered during a pre-draft workout with the New York Knicks Jerseys — and his rights were acquired by the Blazers, Crabbe asked Trujeque to move to Portland with him on the advice of his former agent.


Early on, it was a struggle. Crabbe played just 15 games as a rookie, sitting on the bench in a suit rather than a jersey most nights, and all the DNP-CDs made him question whether he could ever make it.

Allen Crabbe, who has worked extensively on his game over the past year, was rewarded this week with a four-year, $75 million deal to stay with the Blazers. Sam Forencich/Getty Images

He played more his second year, but barely. If he was going to remain in the NBA, Year 3 would be crucial. Crabbe committed to working out with Trujeque in Portland rather than going back to L.A. like usual. The duo did three workouts per day: ball-handling, a weight-lifting and game-situations sessions. And yes, occasionally there was the Bikram Yoga sessions too.

Crabbe constantly practiced coming off pin-downs and working out of pick-and-rolls. He became more consistent with his one- and two-dribble pull-up jumpers. He played well in Summer League and with Nicolas Batum, Wesley Matthews and Arron Afflalo all leaving, plenty of minutes opened up in the Blazers rotation.

Playing behind starters Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum, Crabbe was able to have a significant impact off the bench. He hit 53.5 percent of his shots from 10-16 feet and 44.9 percent of his shots from 16 feet-3-point arc, according to

Crabbe was going to be the starter in Brooklyn, something he was looking forward to. But in Portland, he’ll likely continue in a reserve role while playing in a system he’s extremely comfortable in. He just wants to prove he’s worth every penny the Blazers gave him.

“It’s definitely not the time to chill, take a break or relax because I got the contract I wanted,” Crabbe said. “For me as a basketball player, it’s important to live up to those expectations and prove that this contract wasn’t a fluke or that they wasted all this money they’ve invested in me.”

His mentality — the same one that enabled him to wake up for that Bikram Yoga class at 5 a.m. — should certainly help.

“I always feel like I’ve been the underdog and had to prove myself year after year,” Crabbe said.

“Things weren’t handed to me at all. And I really had to work behind the scenes in order to get to where I’m at now.”

NFL Preseason Blitz: Carson Wentz has rocky debut

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Philadelphia Eagles Jerseys Jerseys fans couldn’t even get to halftime of the preseason opener before the first “We want Wentz!” chant.

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You can’t blame them for being excited about quarterback Carson Wentz, the second pick of the NFL draft. He’s the Eagles Jerseys’ future, and Thursday night was the fans’ first look at him in game action. Wentz gave the fans enough reason for hope, and he gave the coaches enough mistakes to correct.

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Wentz got in late in the first half of the Eagles Jerseys’ 17-9 win against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Jerseys Jerseys, and his first completion showed why he was the second pick of the draft.

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After an incompletion, Wentz stepped up in the pocket toward his right and delivered a blazing fastball to Zach Ertz Jerseys for a 19-yard gain. Nobody ever questioned if Wentz’s arm is good enough.

[Yahoo Fantasy Football is open for the 2016 season. Sign up now]

Wentz is also a solid athlete, showing off his athleticism on one third-quarter run when he avoided the rush, got outside and then cut upfield for a nice gain. Wentz also ran a third-down read option, but was upended just before he got the first down.

Wentz had some moments when it was clear why the Eagles Jerseys gave up so much in a trade to move up and draft him, but he also looked like a rookie. He seemed a bit amped up — he fired a third-down pass over Ertz, throwing his fastball when a changeup would have gotten the completion. He also had a terrible throw in the third quarter. On third-and-10, with a clean pocket and receiver Cayleb Jones running wide open downfield. Wentz didn’t come close, throwing it way over Jones’ head and incomplete.

Wentz had his worst rookie moment in the third quarter. With the Eagles Jerseys in the red zone, his intended target ran a hesitation route crossing the field. And Wentz, just before he was crushed by defensive tackle A.J. Francis Jerseys, made a dangerous throw that sailed too high and was picked off. He’ll learn that QBs shouldn’t make throws like that, especially so close to the end zone.

Nobody expected Wentz to look like a polished pro, especially coming from an FCS program at North Dakota State, and he was predictably uneven. Wentz won’t start the regular season for the Eagles Jerseys unless something unexpected happens to Sam Bradford Jerseys and Chase Daniel Jerseys over the next few weeks. So he’ll have plenty of time, over the next three weeks and beyond, to get used to the NFL.

Carson Wentz in his preseason debut (AP)More More

The Jacksonville Jaguars Jerseys Jerseys are expected to make a nice jump this season, and the first look at them in the preseason won’t slow down that hype.

Allen Robinson Jerseys was in midseason form in Jacksonville’s 17-13 loss to the New York Jets Jerseys Jerseys, with a few nice catches including an incredible grab for 45 yards. He had 80 yards in the first quarter. Thanks to his No. 1 receiver grabbing everything thrown his way, quarterback Blake Bortles Jerseys was 6-of-7 for 105 yards.

The run game looked good too. Chris Ivory Jerseys had 26 yards and a touchdown on six carries. T.J. Yeldon made the most of his four carries, getting 26 yards. The Jaguars Jerseys’ starters played most of the first quarter, and they led 10-0 at the end of it.


The Jaguars Jerseys had a great offseason, grabbing a few high-priced veterans and getting Jalen Rams Jerseysey and Myles Jack in the draft. If the starting offense is as efficient as it was Thursday night, the Jaguars Jerseys should be fun to watch this season.


The preseason doesn’t count, but New England Patriots Jerseys Jerseys running back Tyler Gaffney Jerseys had a moment in a 34-22 win over the New Orleans Saints Jerseys Jerseys that had to feel special.

Gaffney missed each of the past two seasons, and each of the past two preseasons as well, due to injuries. Thursday was the first preseason game of his career, about 27 months after he was a sixth-round pick of the Carolina Panthers Jerseys Jerseys. It was his first game since Jan. 1, 2014, when he had 91 yards and a touchdown for Stanford in a 24-20 Rose Bowl loss to Michigan State. And Gaffney showed why the Patriots Jerseys brought him back this season, even after he couldn’t stay healthy the previous two years.

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Gaffney took a handoff to the left, cut back right and ran past the Saints Jerseys’ defense for a 44-yard touchdown. That’s a great moment for him.

He might not be just a heartwarming preseason story either. Gaffney has had some nice reviews in camp, and it’s not like the Patriots Jerseys (who claimed Gaffney off waivers in 2014 when the Panthers Jerseys tried to get him to injured reserve) are loaded at running back. Dion Lewis is still on the physically unable to perform list, LeGarrette Blount Jerseys looked sluggish on many of his runs (as he did in 2015) and James White Jerseys is reportedly on the roster bubble.

Gaffney could make the team and have a role, especially if he has more runs like he did against the Saints Jerseys.


Atlanta Falcons Jerseys Jerseys 23, Washington Redskins Jerseys Jerseys 17: J.D. McKissic had the kind of play that could stick in the coaches’ minds when they’re evaluating plans for the regular-season roster or practice squad. McKissic took the opening kickoff of the second half and exploded upfield for a 101-yard touchdown. It was very well blocked, but still a good return by McKissic, an undrafted receiver from Arkansas State. McKissic also had a 14-yard punt return.

Baltimore Ravens Jerseys Jerseys 22, Carolina Panthers Jerseys Jerseys 19: The Ravens Jerseys gave Terrance West Jerseys a good look at tailback. Javorius Allen started (Justin Forsett Jerseys didn’t play), but West got a bulk of the work. The results were mixed. West got only 25 yards on his nine carries, but had two short touchdowns. He dove over the pylon on fourth down for one score, and reversed field and outran the defense to the end zone for the other. He’ll get more looks as he tries to lock up his role in the Ravens Jerseys’ backfield.

Denver Broncos Jerseys Jerseys 22, Chicago Bears Jerseys Jerseys 0: Mark Sanchez Jerseys had a nice pass to Virgil Green Jerseys on Denver’s first drive, then stood in against the blitz to deliver a 32-yard touchdown to Demaryius Thomas Jerseys. Then he had an inexcusable mistake. Sanchez seemingly never saw cornerback Bryce Callahan Jerseys lurking in coverage, and Callahan tipped up a pass that was intercepted by linebacker Jerrell Freeman Jerseys. That sums up Sanchez: He can make good plays here and there, but mistakes have defined him. Trevor Siemian Jerseys, who is competing with Sanchez for the starting spot, wasn’t spectacular but he also didn’t turn the ball over. (For more on the Broncos Jerseys’ quarterback battle, here’s Eric Edholm’s report from Soldier Field on Thursday night.)


• With last week’s Hall of Fame game being canceled, the first kickoff of the NFL preseason happened at about 7:07 p.m. Eastern time in Philadelphia. And Buccaneers Jerseys returner Kenny Bell Jerseys took the opening kickoff of the season, the first football we’ve seen since Super Bowl 50 … and he fumbled it away. Hopefully that’s not an omen for this season.

• Carson Wentz wasn’t the only first-round rookie quarterback to make his debut. Paxton Lynch played for the Broncos Jerseys and completed 6 of 7 passes for 74 yards. He looked comfortable in his first action.

• The competition for touches in the Ravens Jerseys backfield will be fierce. Terrance West Jerseys reportedly has a chance to start. Rookie running back Kenneth Dixon made his mark with a nice 19-yard run, putting a great move on Panthers Jerseys safety Tre Boston Jerseys in the open field. Dixon had 44 yards on nine carries. And Javorius Allen, who started with Justin Forsett Jerseys out, had a 19-yard touchdown catch.

• Everyone assumes that with Kelvin Benjamin Jerseys back, he’ll be the Panthers Jerseys’ No. 1 receiver. Devin Funchess Jerseys might have a say in that. Funchess had a great touchdown grab, overpowering cornerback Shareece Wright Jerseys in the end zone for a 10-yard score. He used his big body to box out Wright and Wright was helpless to break it up. Funchess, a second-round pick last year, finished his rookie season pretty well too. Benjamin, who was out last season with a knee injury, made his return and had one catch for 5 yards.

• There’s a reason the Eagles Jerseys gave Fletcher Cox Jerseys a mega-extension this offseason. In the first quarter Thursday, Cox got an upfield push on Buccaneers Jerseys right guard Ali Marpet Jerseys and knocked the ball out of the hand of Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston Jerseys. Cox then recovered the fumble. Cox is moving to defensive tackle in new coordinator Jim Schwartz’s 4-3 scheme and should have a huge year.

• Ryan Mathews Jerseys is rarely healthy, but the Eagles Jerseys’ back is very good when he is in the lineup. He had just two carries on Thursday but both were nice. First he had a strong inside run for 10 yards. Then — with the Eagles Jerseys lining up with three tight ends to the right of the formation — Mathews got in for a 5-yard score.

• Michael Thomas Jerseys, the Saints Jerseys’ second-round pick, had a nice first game. He caught four passes for 67 yards, including a reception down the sideline in which he showed great concentration and hands to secure the catch and get both feet in before going out of bounds. He’s a big target and should be a favorite target of Drew Brees Jerseys from Week 1 on.

• Here’s the downside of having four quarterbacks who might all make the roster: Second-round pick Christian Hackenberg didn’t play in Thursday night’s opener. Ryan Fitzpatrick Jerseys started, Geno Smith Jerseys came in second and Bryce Petty played the rest of the game. The reason Jets Jerseys coach Todd Bowles gave for Hackenberg not playing is he has had only limited practice reps. The Jets Jerseys’ plans probably don’t include playing Hackenberg at all this regular season, and the lack of action now doesn’t seem ideal for his development.

• For those interested in the Bears Jerseys’ running back depth chart: Jeremy Langford Jerseys had 7 yards on four carries, Ka’Deem Carey had 8 yards on three carries and rookie Jordan Howard had 12 yards on five carries. No bueno. However, they were going against a Broncos Jerseys defense that pitched a shutout and looked like it was ready for the regular season.

• Also, ICYMI from Shutdown Corner: Buccaneers Jerseys rookie kicker Roberto Aguayo had a rough start and New England Patriots Jerseys Jerseys quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo Jerseys had an up-and-down preseason opener.

– – – – – – –

Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

Las Vegas NHL team names Murray Craven senior vice president

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LAS VEGAS (AP) — Las Vegas NHL owner Bill Foley has hired longtime adviser Murray Craven as the expansion team’s senior vice president.


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Craven will be responsible for establishing the club’s top minor-league affiliate in the American Hockey League, developing the practice facility in Summerlin, Nevada, building up facilities at T-Mobile Arena and overseeing projects at the wholesale jerseys usa request of general manager George McPhee.

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The 52-year-old former NHL player has been Foley’s right-hand man throughout the expansion process, which began with a season-ticket drive in early 2015 and culminated with the awarding of a franchise in June. Foley said last month that Craven is a ”street-smart guy” who he wanted to be involved with the organization.

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Craven played 18 NHL seasons for the Red Wings, Flyers, Whalers, Canucks, Blackhawks and Sharks from 1982-1999.

Chicago Cubs feel energized for second-half run

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CHICAGO — With their historic All-Star moment behind them, seven Chicago Cubs Jerseys Jerseys will rejoin their team for the start of the second half Friday with one question in mind: Which Cubs Jerseys team will show up?

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Is it the one that shot out of the gate from spring training en route to baseball’s best record, or the one that limped home with the National League Jerseys’s sixth-worst winning percentage in the final Weeks Jerseys?

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We can go a long way toward answering that question if we know how the All-Stars are feeling after their journey from Chicago to Pittsburgh to San Diego and now back to Chicago. Did they get any rest?

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“I felt rejuvenated today,” Anthony Rizzo Jerseys Jerseys said after Tuesday’s All-Star Game. “The body is fine. These mental days are really nice. … We pLa Jerseysn on having a fun second half. It’s going to be entertaining.”

We know it will be interesting, but the entertainment comes if they get back to their dominant ways. Odds are they will. The next time the formerly road-weary team boards a pLa Jerseysne will be Aug. 4. Road games in Chicago (against the White Sox Jerseys) and Milwaukee, combined with 14 games at Wrigley Field, set them up for a post-All-Star break run simiLa Jerseysr to the one they went on La Jerseysst year. As for their disastrous pLa Jerseysy before the break, pitcher Jon Lester Jerseys Jerseys opined on his team’s plight during media day at the All-Star Game on Monday.

“I was talking to [bench coach] Davey Martin Jerseysez Jerseys,” Lester Jerseys said. “He had a good point. The more you think about it, the more it’s true. It seems like every year, two Weeks Jerseys before the break or after the break, something crazy Happ Jerseysens. I think you saw that with us and even around baseball. You saw a spike in home runs and offenses and all this stuff. Hopefully they got that all out of their system and we can come back and get back to pLa Jerseysying normal games. We usually don’t pLa Jerseysy back-and-forth games like that. May Jerseysbe 3-2, not 7-6. I think every win in those La Jerseysst couple Weeks Jerseys was important to try and get us back going. May Jerseysbe Sunday was it. Our pitching staff was not its normal self. This break will be good.”

The numbers back up Lester Jerseys. We already know the Cubs Jerseys were struggling, but did you realize the first-pLa Jerseysce Texas Rangers Jerseys Jerseys –- this weekend’s opponent -– went 5-9 over the past two Weeks Jerseys? That’s the exact same record as the Cubs Jerseys. There’s more. The division-leading Baltimore Orioles Jerseys Jerseys went 6-6, and the formerly red-hot CleveLa Jerseysnd Indians Jerseys Jerseys finished up 8-6. Only the Washington Nationals Jerseys Jerseys went on a run, going 10-4 before the break.

As for offense around the League Jerseys, batters have had their way recently. According to ESPN Stats & Information, runs per game increased from 4.43 to 4.93 in the final two Weeks Jerseys before the break, batting averages jumped 12 points and the League Jerseys OPS increased from .737 to .770. Those numbers even had baseball commissioner Rob Manfred addressing the issue at the All-Star Game. He didn’t have any good answers and neither do the Cubs Jerseys –- except that grueling schedule.

Kris BRyan Jerseyst Jerseys is greeted in the dugout after his first-inning home run Tuesday in the All-Star Game in San Diego. The Cubs Jerseys open the second half at home against the Rangers Jerseys. Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

Now May Jerseysbe you don’t care about the numbers around baseball and you don’t want to hear about rough travel or you’re sick of hearing the word “fatigue.” If it all sounds like excuses, Cubs Jerseys manager Joe Maddon gets it. But he says he believes there’s a fine line between an excuse and a reason.

“It De Jerseyspends on who’s listening,” he said before the break. “The people that want to be more negative or skeptical will see it as an excuse. People that are more pragmatic or logical see it as a reason.

“You don’t want to throw that [travel] out there as an excuse. What’s nice is what’s going to Happ Jerseysen afterwards. It gets better.”

It gets a whole lot better, so we’ll soon have a good iDe Jerseysa as to what was causing the Cubs Jerseys so many problems.

“It’s been a run without a break,” he said. “Fatigue enters in for everybody, if they want to admit it or not. It was a tough three Weeks Jerseys. It was a fatigue situation more than anything. When you’re fatigued, you try to manufacture something that’s not there.”


Isn’t that the exact way to De Jerseysscribe some of the Cubs Jerseys’ mistakes pre-break? Think of the baserunning errors or poor De Jerseyscisions in the field. May Jerseysbe they all stemmed from that brutal grind, which incluDe Jerseysd 23 of 33 games on the road. But that’s all behind them now. A couple of days in beautiful San Diego might have been the trick, and now they get a couple of more days before starting up again.

“This was the perfect couple days to hit that reset button,” Kris BRyan Jerseyst Jerseys said. “A much-neeDe Jerseysd All-Star break, especially for the Cubs Jerseys.”

Ben Zobrist Jerseys Jerseys was already seeing the benefit for a Young Jerseys pLa Jerseysyer such as Addison Russell Jerseys Jerseys, since confiDe Jerseysnce is everything in baseball.

“It’s a good memory whether you get a hit or not,” Zobrist Jerseys said. “This will be really good for him and we still have two days off.”

Of course, BRyan Jerseyst doesn’t need a confiDe Jerseysnce boost, but his All-Star Game home run Tuesday is just another confirmation that he’s already one of the best Young Jerseys pLa Jerseysyers in the game.

“The biggest stage you can be on right now and he shined like he always does,” Rizzo Jerseys said.

As important as rest is for the Cubs Jerseys, getting healthy is also a priority. Zobrist Jerseys maDe Jerseys a point of telling anyone who would listen that the absence of De Jerseysxter Fowler Jerseys Jerseys (hamstring) and David Ross Jerseys Jerseys (concussion) cost the Cubs Jerseys more than production.

“When those guys are out or get injured, that crushes a team,” Zobrist Jerseys said. “They give us energy.”

So does pLa Jerseysying in an All-Star Game. To a man, the Cubs Jerseys All-Stars said they felt rejuvenated within hours of arriving in San Diego. We will find out how true that is starting Friday, when the best of the American League Jerseys visits Wrigley Field.

Zobrist Jerseys was asked if pLa Jerseysying the first-pLa Jerseysce Rangers Jerseys gives the series some special meaning. Pausing before answering, Zobrist Jerseys responDe Jerseysd: “I wish it did, but it doesn’t because it’s July and we’re coming out of the All-Star break. We have to focus on what we’re doing and our execution. We haven’t executed very well the La Jerseysst few Weeks Jerseys.

“It [the schedule] beat us up a little bit. It Happ Jerseysens.”

Reason or excuse? We’ll find out soon.

Lakers’ Brandon Ingram facing more physical challenges

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LAS VEGAS — In Brandon Ingram’s Las Vegas Summer League debut last week, the Los Angeles Lakers Jerseys rookie forward and No. 2 overall pick in the 2016 draft operated on the perimeter without much resistance from the opposition. In return, he took a few open shots or dished to teammates but played calm and with poise.

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However, in Ingram’s last two summer league games, opponents have changed up their approach and are instead aggressively pushing his 6-foot-9, 190-pound frame around, testing his strength and how he responds against brute force.

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So far, Ingram hasn’t responded all too well. He scored seven points on 3-of-12 shooting on Saturday against the Philadelphia 76ers Jerseys and then had seven points again Monday in the Lakers’ 78-65 win over the Golden State Warriors Jerseys at the Thomas & Mack Center.

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Ingram, for one, isn’t surprised by this tactic. The 18-year-old knows that that he is shockingly slight and that the biggest question surrounding his development is whether he can gain enough muscle to help deal with the grind of an 82-game regular season in a league full of players far more physically mature.


“I think just for my size and my frame, they just try to test me and it’s important for me to battle back and not just let them hit me but hit them also,” Ingram said.

Against the Warriors, though, Ingram tried to be the aggressor when he touched the ball, bulling into defenders at first chance.

“When guys get physical, I think it’s important to hit them first before they hit you,” he said.

That approach helped him reach the free-throw line nine times, and he knocked down seven of them. Still, he said he didn’t expect to miss so many shots through his first few games.

“But I think my teammates are helping me out a lot,” Ingram continued. “I think they still have confidence in me that I’ll just shoot the next shot or get back on the defensive end. All the guys off the bench are helping me out a lot. I think they’re getting in and they’re making a lot of plays on the offensive end and defensive end.”

It figures that teams will play Ingram physically throughout the regular season, but Lakers assistant Jesse Mermuys, who is coaching the team’s summer league squad, is encouraged by how he has seen Ingram adjust to that style in recent days.

“What I really liked [Monday night] is that they were clearly making a concerted effort to get up and be physical with him, and I love the fact that he doesn’t shy away from that,” Mermuys said. “He keeps attacking. He keeps trying. He keeps initiating contact and that’s a really good sign for a young guy. As skinny as he is, he’s not shying away from that contact and that abuse. He’s trying to go get it. And that’s a really good sign for him.”

Isaiah Crowell apologizes for social post, offers game check

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Cleveland Browns Jerseys Jerseys running back Isaiah Crowell Jerseys apologized for his social media reaction to last week’s killing of two black men by police and has pledged a game check to a Dallas police organization.

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Crowell said Tuesday that he made an “extremely poor decision” when he posted a drawing that graphically showed a hooded individual putting what looks like a machete into the throat of a police officer.

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In a video posted on his Facebook page on Wednesday, Crowell said that “by posting that picture I became part of the problem. I don’t want to be part of the problem. I want to be part of the solution. To back that up, my first game check is going to the Dallas Fallen Officers Foundation.”

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Browns Jerseys running back Isaiah Crowell Jerseys said last week was “emotional and difficult” but that his social media post about police was wrong. AP Photo/David Richard

Saying he wants to work toward opening dialogue between his community and police, Crowell also added: “I know this might not change your mind about me, and I know I can’t take the post back, but I’m sorry. And moving forward I’m committed to being part of the solution.”

The Dallas Fallen Officer Foundation was established in 2009 by active Dallas police officers to help immediate families of officers critically injured or killed in the line of duty.

Crowell’s post had created an uproar. On Monday, the Browns Jerseys organization did not mince words in its reaction.


“We have spoken to Isaiah regarding his extremely disturbing and unacceptable social media decision,” the team said in a written statement. “It was completely inappropriate and we have made him aware of our high level of disappointment. Isaiah has apologized but also knows that just an apology is insufficient and that he must take steps to make a positive difference after a very negative and impactful post.”

Crowell had issued a statement on Monday that was released by the team.

“It was an extremely poor decision and I apologize for that mistake and for offending people,” he said. “My values and beliefs do not match that image.”

The post went up after the police killings of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Philando Castile in Falcon Heights, Minnesota, and before the killing of five Dallas police officers Thursday night.

Stephen Loomis, president of the Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association, also was critical of Crowell, telling TMZ Sports that the player’s “store-bought apology” was inadequate.

Cleveland police chief Calvin Williams said that Crowell apologized to him in a call Tuesday and that Crowell said he was caught up in the emotion of last week.

Crowell wrote that he was “outraged and upset” by the killings of Sterling and Castile, and “outraged and saddened” by the killing of the five Dallas police officers. He called last week “an emotional and difficult week,” but said his post was wrong.

“We have to be better as a society,” Crowell said. “It’s not about color, it’s about what’s right and wrong. I was very wrong in posting that image. Every single life matters, every death as a result of violence should be treated with equal outrage and penalty.”

Crowell removed the image shortly after posting it, but the image still was shared on social media.

NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy, when asked whether the league had any response, said: “The image was inappropriate and insensitive. He realized this, took down the post and has since apologized.”

Information from ESPN’s Pat McManamon was used in this report.

Trevor Hoffman short of Hall of Fame in debut

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SAN DIEGO — The (Hells) Bell didn’t toll for Trevor Hoffman on Wednesday, as he came up short in his first attempt to gain entry into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

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But Hoffman, who amassed 601 career saves in 18 big league seasons, 16 with the Padres, certainly made a strong showing.

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Hoffman was named on 67.3 percent of ballots cast by the eligible members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, falling short of the required 75 percent to gain a place in Cooperstown.

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However, a showing of more than 50 percent on the first attempt to gain entry to the Hall is generally considered a good sign.

How good?

Only two players — Jack Morris and Gil Hodges — were named to 60 percent of ballots and didn’t eventually gain entry to the Hall.

On Wednesday, Ken Griffey Jr. and Mike Piazza were elected to the Hall of Fame. They will be inducted in a ceremony in Cooperstown in July.

Hoffman, who is currently a senior adviser for baseball operations for the Padres, was hoping to become the second player with the longest tenure in San Diego in the Hall, joining the late Tony Gwynn (2007).

The Padres released the following statement Wednesday on behalf of Hoffman:

“First and foremost, I want to congratulate Ken Griffey Jr. and Mike Piazza. This is a class of tremendous players and people, both deserving of the title Hall of Famer. While the news today wasn’t the news I was hoping for, I am humbled and honored to have been on the ballot and in the conversation with players of this caliber. If and when the day comes that I receive the ultimate honor in our game, I look forward to sharing it with my family, friends, teammates, the Padres organization, and most importantly, the fans.”

Former Padres outfielder Dave Winfield, who played the first eight years of his 22-year career with the Padres, was inducted into the Hall in 2001.

That Hoffman didn’t make it into the Hall on his first attempt didn’t rate as a total surprise, especially because the merits of his role — closer, and saves — have certainly been debated and scrutinized by voters, many who, admittedly, aren’t sure how to weigh those credentials.

Take the last two closers to be elected to the Hall — Bruce Sutter in 2006 and Rich “Goose” Gossage in 2008. They had 76.9 percent and 85.8 percent, respectively. Sutter was on the ballot for the 13th time and Gossage the ninth.


“It’s a specialty role,” Hoffman told recently. “We’ve seen the same thing with the DH. The writers really don’t know how to view one guy against another guy. I don’t think it’s cut and dried. I think Goose is the one guy to point to that was a big chip for the relievers to come.”

Hoffman, a former Minor League shortstop who converted to pitching, made his big league debut with the Marlins in 1993. He was dealt that season to the Padres, where he pitched until 2008 before playing his last two seasons with the Brewers.

Hoffman finished second in the National League Cy Young Award vote in 1998 and 2006.

Armed with a nasty changeup, Hoffman accumulated 601 saves — the most by far in NL history. That mark ranks second all time in MLB history to former Yankees closer Mariano Rivera, who finished with 652 saves and 42 more in the postseason.

Hoffman broke Lee Smith Jerseys’s all-time saves record of 478 and became the first pitcher to reach the 500- and 600-save milestones.

He had his No. 51 jersey retired by the Padres in 2011 and was elected into the team’s Hall of Fame in 2014.

Corey Brock is a reporter for Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs. Share This Email Print + Hide Comments

Power Rankings: Warriors headline a special season

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It has truly been a special year in the NBA.

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There have been 1,423 team-seasons in NBA history, and never before has a team won 73 games. The Golden State Warriors Jerseys will have the opportunity to do just that when they host the Memphis Grizzlies Jerseys on Wednesday.

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The Warriors have already made history by setting the record for most wins to start a season and by being the first team to go through a full season without ever losing two straight games. Again, 1,423 NBA teams have come and gone and none have done any of these things.

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But of course, the specialness of this season goes beyond the champs. With one more win, the San Antonio Spurs Jerseys will be the greatest second best regular-season team in NBA history (they’re currently tied with the 2008-09 Lakers). As great as the Spurs have been over the last 19 years, they had never won 65 games before.

The Warriors have the same NetRtg (plus-11.4 points per 100 possessions) as they did last season. Then, it was 4.6 points per 100 possessions better than the next best team. This time, it’s not even good for the best mark in the league. The Spurs have taken things to a new level, and it can be argued that they helped push the Warriors to the brink of history.

While we wait for what could be an epic Western Conference finals, we can also celebrate more specialness around the league. The Eastern Conference took a collective step forward, Russell Westbrook went triple-double crazy, Paul George emerged as a better player than he was before he suffered a horrific injury, the Portland Trail Blazers Jerseys defied expectations like no team in recent memory, and Kobe Bryant wrote the final chapter on what has been an incredible 20-year career with a single franchise.

There’s still a record to be broken and some housekeeping to be done in the final three days of the regular season. But it’s time for the playoffs to begin and see if the Warriors can cap off their historical season with a second straight championship.

* * *

Last week: Last playoff spots still up in the air This time last year: Warriors were the best team — and surprise — of 2014-15 — The last playoff spot in the West and the last two spots in the East were still up for grabs, and seeding was very much unsettled. The Wolves were finishing the season on a 12-game losing streak, the Knicks and Magic combined to score a record-low 15 points in a quarter, and Thabo Sefolosha had his leg broken in New York.

Plus-minus stud: Chris Paul (LAC) was a plus-61 in three games last week. Plus-minus dud: Julius Randle (LAL) was a minus-68 in four games last week.

Hero team of the week: Golden State (3-1) — Two wins over the close-to-full-strength Spurs is a good week, whether or not it puts you on the brink of history. Zero team of the week: New Orleans (1-3) — The Pelicans went 1-2 against three of the four worst teams in the league, losing by a combined 35 points to the Sixers and Suns.

Team to watch this week: Utah — The Jazz play a huge game against the Mavs on Monday, and then could have their season on the line in Kobe Bryant’s last game.

East vs. West: The West is 232-217 (.517) against the East in interconference games, with one interconference game – Chicago at New Orleans on Monday – remaining. This was the second best record the East had vs. the West in the last 17 years.

Toughest schedules so far: 1. L.A. Lakers, 2. Philadelphia, 3. Milwaukee Easiest schedules so far: 1. San Antonio, 2. Golden State, 3. Cleveland Schedule strength is based on cumulative opponent record, and adjusted for home vs. away and days of rest before a game.

High jumps of the week: Dallas (+5), L.A. Clippers (+4), Orlando (+4) Free falls of the week: Indiana (-6), Minnesota (-3), Denver (-3)

* * *

Pace: Possessions per 48 minutes (League Rank) OffRtg: Points scored per 100 possessions (League Rank) DefRtg: Points allowed per 100 possessions (League Rank) NetRtg: Point differential per 100 possessions (League Rank)

The league has averaged 98.1 possessions (per team) per 48 minutes and 103.9 points scored per 100 possessions this season (up from 96.3 and 103.0 last season).

* * *’s Power Rankings, released every Monday during the season, are just one man’s opinion. If you have an issue with the rankings, or have a question or comment for John Schuhmann, send him an e-mail or contact him via Twitter.


Last week: 1 Golden State (72-9) Pace: 101.6 (2) OffRtg: 112.3 (1) DefRtg: 100.9 (5) NetRtg: +11.4 (2) There were times when the Warriors weren’t as sharp as they were last season, their defense took a step backward, and their competition is tougher this year. But they were clearly the better team in matchups with the Spurs and there’s just no arguing with 72 or 73 wins. They’ll make history on Wednesday and then the real fun begins. Come mid-May, we’re going to see if they left enough gas in the tank. This week: vs. MEM


Last week: 2 San Antonio (65-15) Pace: 95.9 (25) OffRtg: 108.5 (3) DefRtg: 96.5 (1) NetRtg: +12.0 (1) Maybe the most powerful thing the Warriors have done is make the best player of his generation obsolete. Tim Duncan played just 27 minutes – fewer than Kyle Anderson or Kevin Martin (in his five weeks with the Spurs) – against the champs and it’s not clear that he’d have a bigger role in the playoffs should the two teams meet again. The Spurs will have the tougher road and have had their struggles with the Thunder. This week: vs. OKC, @ DAL


Last week: 3 Cleveland (56-24) Pace: 95.5 (28) OffRtg: 108.1 (4) DefRtg: 102.2 (10) NetRtg: +5.9 (4) With Iman Shumpert and Mo Williams dealing with knee issues, Matthew Dellavedova shooting poorly, and ongoing questions about how much they can play Timofey Mozgov, the Cavs’ bench looks pretty thin. Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love are healthy, but defense will always be a concern with both on the floor. They’ll be the targets of many pick-and-rolls in the playoffs and eighth-place Detroit is a high-volume pick-and-roll team. This week: vs. ATL, vs. DET


Last week: 4 Oklahoma City (54-26) Pace: 99.4 (8) OffRtg: 110.1 (2) DefRtg: 103.3 (12) NetRtg: +6.8 (3) The Thunder are 17-0 when Russell Westbrook has recorded a triple-double. So if he can just get 16 more in the playoffs, the championship will be theirs. They’re not going into the playoffs with any momentum (particularly with their defense, where they’ve allowed 115 points per 100 possessions over their last five games), but Westbrook and Kevin Durant should be fresh and they won’t face much resistance in the first round. This week: vs. LAL, @ SAS


Last week: 5 Toronto (54-26) Pace: 95.3 (29) OffRtg: 106.8 (5) DefRtg: 102.8 (11) NetRtg: +4.0 (7) The Raptors finished with a winning record against each of the other East playoff teams and are the only team in the league with a better record against teams that are currently over .500 (28-11) than against teams currently .500 or below (26-15). They have the resume to make a deep run in the playoffs and their defense is much better than it was a year ago. But can they adapt when the opponent takes away their initial offense? This week: vs. PHI, @ BKN


Last week: 6 L.A. Clippers (52-28) Pace: 97.9 (17) OffRtg: 106.4 (6) DefRtg: 101.0 (6) NetRtg: +5.4 (5) The Clippers haven’t lost since Blake Griffin’s return, have won nine of their last 10 games, and have had the league’s best defense in that stretch. With how good the Warriors and Spurs have been, the Clips’ defensive improvement has gone under the radar. Going from 15th to sixth on that end should lead to more success in the postseason, but they’re staring at the champs in the conference semis if they get there. This week: vs. MEM, @ PHX


Last week: 7 Atlanta (48-32) Pace: 99.3 (9) OffRtg: 103.2 (15) DefRtg: 98.6 (2) NetRtg: +4.6 (6) In February, the Hawks reportedly entertained (but ultimately passed on) the idea of trading Jeff Teague. On the surface, Teague’s numbers since then aren’t much different than they were before. But the Hawks’ 17-5 run since late February has been built on his minutes at the point, especially in the fourth quarter. They’re a plus-22.2 per 100 possessions in the fourth over that run and now rank as the league’s best fourth-quarter team. This week: @ CLE, @ WAS


Last week: 10 Miami (47-33) Pace: 95.8 (26) OffRtg: 104.2 (11) DefRtg: 101.5 (8) NetRtg: +2.7 (10) The Heat lost their best player at the All-Star break (again) and have been the league’s most improved team (5.4 points per 100 possessions better) since. All the improvement has come on offense, where they ranked 24th before the break and where they’ve seen a lot of growth from Hassan Whiteside. If Dallas’ offense continues to struggle in its final two games, Miami could finish in the top 10 on both ends of the floor. This week: @ DET, @ BOS


Last week: 9 Boston (47-33) Pace: 101.3 (3) OffRtg: 103.9 (12) DefRtg: 100.8 (4) NetRtg: +3.2 (8) Isaiah Thomas was the focus of the Cavs’ defense in last year’s playoffs and shot just 33 percent in the first-round sweep. He has a stronger supporting cast this year, but the Celtics will need their other guards to make some shots. Marcus Smart (the worst catch-and-shoot guy in the league) made four threes on Saturday, but Avery Bradley and Jae Crowder have both struggled with their shot of late. This week: vs. CHA, vs. MIA


Last week: 8 Charlotte (46-34) Pace: 97.7 (18) OffRtg: 104.7 (9) DefRtg: 101.9 (9) NetRtg: +2.9 (9) The Hornets were the league’s most improved offensive team, are one of just two East teams to rank in the top 10 in both offensive and defensive efficiency, and have the conference’s best record since Feb. 1. They should get Charlotte’s first playoff win since 2002 and maybe many more. But after Sunday’s loss in Washington, it looks like they’ll be on the road (probably in Atlanta) to start the first round. This week: @ BOS, vs. ORL


Last week: 11 Portland (43-38) Pace: 98.3 (13) OffRtg: 106.2 (7) DefRtg: 105.7 (20) NetRtg: +0.5 (13) Terry Stotts, Neil Olshey and C.J. McCollum are all in the running for awards and the Blazers obviously deserve some sort of recognition for the season they’ve had when no one thought they’d even sniff the playoffs. Chris Paul-Damian Lillard looks like the best individual matchup of the first round, though Lillard shot just 32 percent against the Clippers this season, his lowest mark against any West opponent. This week: vs. DEN


Last week: 17 Indiana (43-37) Pace: 99.0 (10) OffRtg: 102.4 (23) DefRtg: 100.4 (3) NetRtg: +2.0 (11) It’s amazing how the Pacers set out to change their identity this season and ended up, statistically, the same team (bad offense, great defense) that they’ve been the last few years. They got handled by Norman Powell and the All-Star-less Raptors (their likely first round opponent) on Friday, but the first three meetings were competitive. Strangely, only Washington and Sacramento have defended Toronto better. This week: vs. NYK, @ MIL


Last week: 15 Detroit (43-37) Pace: 97.5 (19) OffRtg: 103.2 (16) DefRtg: 103.4 (13) NetRtg: -0.2 (15) The Pistons are in the playoffs for first time since Rasheed Wallace was still in Detroit. Their ability to make noise against one of the top two seeds could depend on the other guys making shots and making plays when the defense sets its sights on Reggie Jackson. The Pistons are just 6-18 when Jackson has been held to 15 points or less, though, with Tobias Harris providing some extra offense, four of those wins came in March. This week: vs. MIA, @ CLE


Last week: 14 Dallas (41-39) Pace: 96.6 (22) OffRtg: 104.7 (10) DefRtg: 104.3 (16) NetRtg: +0.5 (14) The Mavs’ six-game winning streak came to an end in L.A. on Sunday, so they still have some work to do to clinch their 15th playoff berth in the last 16 years. J.J. Barea, the only guy providing any offense, went down with a groin injury on Friday. But they got Deron Williams back on Sunday and their defensive improvement, which coincides with rookie Justin Anderson’s move to the starting lineup, has continued to carry them. This week: @ UTA, vs. SAS


Last week: 13 Utah (40-40) Pace: 93.3 (30) OffRtg: 103.2 (17) DefRtg: 101.4 (7) NetRtg: +1.8 (12) The Jazz had last-second shots to beat both the Spurs and (shorthanded) Clippers last week, but fell to 5-19 against the seven teams ahead of them in the West standings (having allowed 110 points per 100 possessions in the 24 games) with the two losses. If they don’t get win No. 6 on Monday, they’ll need help from one of the Rockets’ opponents to get into the playoffs. Alec Burks is back, but Derrick Favors is banged up. This week: vs. DAL, @ LAL


Last week: 16 Chicago (40-40) Pace: 98.3 (12) OffRtg: 101.6 (26) DefRtg: 103.6 (14) NetRtg: -2.1 (19) The Bulls went 7-1 against the East’s top two seeds … and missed the playoffs for the first time in eight years. It was a weird and, ultimately, disappointing season and where they go from here will be fascinating. They won’t give up on Fred Hoiberg after just one year, but they had scheme and execution issues as much as they had personnel or injury issues. Do they have to choose between Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler? This week: @ NOP, vs. PHI


Last week: 12 Houston (39-41) Pace: 100.0 (7) OffRtg: 105.2 (8) DefRtg: 106.1 (22) NetRtg: -0.8 (16) The Rockets continue to be the league’s most disappointing team, but are somehow still alive. They lost their biggest game of the season in Dallas, shooting 1-for-8 down the stretch, on Wednesday. And a night later, they lost to the bleeping Suns. But they’re still just a game behind the Jazz for eighth place, they have the tiebreaker, and the Mavs will be playing for their own playoff lives in Utah on Monday. This week: @ MIN, vs. SAC


Last week: 18 Washington (39-41) Pace: 100.5 (5) OffRtg: 102.8 (19) DefRtg: 103.7 (15) NetRtg: -0.9 (17) The Wizards are the cautionary tale for teams looking to play smaller and faster. They had a taste of small-ball success in last year’s playoffs, but could never replicate it this season. When they improved defensively after the All-Star break, they took a step backward on offense. A decision needs to be made on Randy Wittman, Bradley Beal needs to be paid, and the Kevin Durant dream is, technically, still alive. This week: @ BKN, vs. ATL


Last week: 20 Memphis (42-38) Pace: 95.6 (27) OffRtg: 102.8 (21) DefRtg: 104.9 (19) NetRtg: -2.1 (20) The Grizzlies got the win (vs. Chicago) and the Houston loss they needed to clinch a playoff spot and came a bucket short of handing the Warriors loss No. 10. A minus-2.1 NetRtg will be the second worst for a playoff team in the last 10 years, ahead of only last year’s Nets (minus-3.1). The Grizz have been outscored by 5.7 points per 100 possessions with neither Mike Conley nor Marc Gasol on the floor. This week: @ LAC, @ GSW


Last week: 19 Orlando (34-46) Pace: 98.2 (14) OffRtg: 102.5 (22) DefRtg: 104.5 (17) NetRtg: -2.0 (18) The Magic had a brutal (2-12) January and will be the first below-average defensive team that Scott Skiles has coached in eight full, 82-game seasons. But they did take a step forward (improvement of 3.6 points per 100 possessions and 9-11 wins) this season. It’s still not clear if they can succeed on offense with both Elfrid Payton and Victor Oladipo on the floor, but the development of Aaron Gordon has been encouraging. This week: vs. MIL, @ CHA


Last week: 24 Minnesota (28-52) Pace: 97.4 (20) OffRtg: 103.9 (13) DefRtg: 107.0 (27) NetRtg: -3.1 (23) The Warriors had won 114 straight games that they led by at least 15 points … until the Wolves came back from 17 down on Tuesday and stunned the champs in overtime. Andrew Wiggins had the biggest buckets in that one, Karl-Anthony Towns had the game-winner in Portland on Saturday, and the Wolves’ future looks brighter than ever. Their ceiling next season will be determined by their defensive improvement. This week: vs. HOU, vs. NOP


Last week: 22 Milwaukee (33-47) Pace: 96.5 (23) OffRtg: 102.3 (24) DefRtg: 105.7 (21) NetRtg: -3.4 (24) The Bucks’ defense has been improved since the All-Star break, but it’s still nowhere near the level it was last season, it hasn’t held two straight opponents under a point per possession since the first two games after the break, and it got thrashed by the Cavs and Celtics last week. The offense should improve next season just with the development of their young players, but the defense will need to be reconstructed. This week: @ ORL, vs. IND


Last week: 21 Sacramento (32-48) Pace: 102.1 (1) OffRtg: 103.8 (14) DefRtg: 106.4 (24) NetRtg: -2.7 (21) The Kings closed out Sleep Train Arena with a win over the Thunder and will finish with their highest win total in eight years (even though they could still lose 50 games). They’re still a long way from being relevant and might not get there until DeMarcus Cousins is their second best player. Of course, this summer’s questions start with the coaching position. If they get rid of George Karl, hopefully they do it swiftly (this time). This week: @ PHX, @ HOU


Last week: 23 Denver (33-48) Pace: 98.1 (15) OffRtg: 102.8 (20) DefRtg: 106.5 (25) NetRtg: -3.7 (26) The Nuggets seemingly have a bright future, with four guys – Gary Harris, Nikola Jokic, Emmanuel Mudiay and Jusuf Nurkic – under the age of 22 who have shown potential. They will need some patience in the front office and from vets like Kenneth Faried, Danilo Gallinari and Wilson Chandler, who all have multiple years left on their contract. Mudiay’s development will obviously be the most critical. This week: @ POR


Last week: 25 New Orleans (30-50) Pace: 98.9 (11) OffRtg: 103.0 (18) DefRtg: 106.6 (26) NetRtg: -3.6 (25) The Pelicans have discovered something in Tim Frazier, who has averaged 13.1 points and 6.7 assists in just 28.6 minutes since signing in mid-March. But they’ll have to decide if Frazier, Jrue Holiday and Tyreke Evans is one too many ball-handlers. Priority No. 1 in July has to be perimeter defense. The Pels were actually pretty good in transition, but generally brutal when it came to getting stops in half-court situations. This week: vs. CHI, @ MIN


Last week: 26 New York (32-49) Pace: 95.9 (24) OffRtg: 102.1 (25) DefRtg: 104.8 (18) NetRtg: -2.7 (22) The Knicks were the most improved team in the league, 7.4 points per 100 possessions better than they were last season. But there was still a lot more bad than good and the next step will be harder to take than the last one. Before they even try to find a new backcourt, they have two big questions to answer. 1. Is Carmelo Anthony a part of the rebuild? 2. Can Phil Jackson put his Triangle-shaped feelings aside when hiring a coach? This week: @ IND


Last week: 29 Phoenix (22-58) Pace: 100.6 (4) OffRtg: 99.4 (28) DefRtg: 107.3 (28) NetRtg: -8.0 (28) The Suns got a gem – Devin Booker – near the end of the Lottery last year and will have a better pick (as well as the Cavs’ first rounder) this time. They could be an entertaining team next year if they keep their backcourt intact, play all three of Booker, Eric Bledsoe and Brandon Knight together, and open the floor up with shooting at the four. Mirza Teletovic (27 threes in his last nine games) has provided that, but is a free agent. This week: vs. SAC, vs. LAC


Last week: 27 L.A. Lakers (16-64) Pace: 98.0 (16) OffRtg: 98.8 (29) DefRtg: 109.5 (30) NetRtg: -10.7 (30) For the third straight season, the Lakers have ranked in the bottom three in defensive efficiency and set a franchise record for losses. This wasn’t just the worst season in the history of the Lakers, it was probably the strangest, with the Kobe Bryant show taking over arenas all over the country. Bryant dropped 35 in Houston on Sunday and the show comes to an end on Wednesday against the Jazz. Let it fly, Mamba. This week: @ OKC, vs. UTA



Last week: 28 Brooklyn (21-59) Pace: 97.3 (21) OffRtg: 100.9 (27) DefRtg: 108.3 (29) NetRtg: -7.5 (27) The Nets will likely finish the season on a 10-game losing streak (they’ve been outscored by almost 21 points per 100 possessions over the streak thus far) and with an 0-9 record without Brook Lopez. A Lopez trade might bring back some assets this summer, but his departure would send the team into Sixersville (not that they’re far away right now). Sean Marks need to hire the right coach and hit a few singles in free agency. This week: vs. WAS, vs. TOR


Last week: 30 Philadelphia (10-70) Pace: 100.3 (6) OffRtg: 96.4 (30) DefRtg: 106.3 (23) NetRtg: -9.9 (29) The writing was on the wall for Sam Hinkie when Jerry Colangelo was hired in December, a clear sign that Sixers ownership had run out of patience and wasn’t as steadfast in regard to the direction of the team as had been stated. It could be several years before we can change Hinkie’s grade as team president to something other than “Incomplete.” Clearly though, he needed to keep the team a little more competitive than it was. This week: @ TOR, @ CHI

McDonald: Who’s the next John Scott?

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The magic of John Scott’s rise from journeyman fourth-liner to All-Star Game MVP can never be repeated. But if the NHL doesn’t change the voting guidelines next season, which player would you like to see rise to the occasion in 2017?

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It doesn’t have to be an enforcer like Scott, but it should be someone who has been in the league for a while, has given his heart and soul to the game and deserves to be recognized.

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After my initial request on Twitter from @espnjoeymac, I received a few quick responses. The majority of them believe current Florida Panthers forward and two-time Stanley Cup champion Shawn Thornton should earn an All-Star nod. But it’s possible the 38-year-old veteran could retire after this season when his contract expires.

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A few other suggestions included: the New York Rangers’ Dominic Moore Jerseys, Edmonton Oilers’ Matt Hendricks Jerseys, Buffalo Sabres’ David Legwand Jerseys and recently retired Pascal Dupuis Jerseys.

Which player do you want to see represent the fans at the 2017 NHL All-Star Game?

@ESPNJoeyMac @ESPN_NHL No one is more deserving than Shawn Thornton

 Belal Jaber (@MrBelal) February 2, 2016

@ESPNJoeyMac @ESPN_NHL @mooredom , Dominic Moore Jerseys!!!

 Johnnie (@DisneyDadSD) February 2, 2016

@ESPNJoeyMac @ESPN_NHL @Duper0009 Deserves to be involved in some capacity. Whether it be honorary coach/etc he deserves it! (@aaronlove48) February 2, 2016

@ESPNJoeyMac @ESPN_NHL @Willie_Mitch33!


 el Duderino (@STALINSLAPSHOS) February 2, 2016

@ESPNJoeyMac @ESPN_NHL The ironman Andrew Cogliano Jerseys #heartandsoul

 Frankie Gee (@fibermaniayarns) February 2, 2016

@ESPNJoeyMac David Legwand Jerseys has never played in one…he would be my pick.

 Eero Hurmerinta (@EeroH84) February 1, 2016

@ESPNJoeyMac @ESPN_NHL I could get behind Matt Hendricks Jerseys or Shawn Thornton. #heartandsoul

 Pine-Sol (@ViscaBrendan) February 2, 2016

@ESPNJoeyMac I wish they had this so many times when Greg Campbell was on the #Bruins Always gave us everything he had.

 KeithWass (@KeithWass) February 1, 2016