How Bill Belichick, Patriots continued to dominate rookie QBs against Jets' Zach Wilson

NFL Jets v Patriots Patriots Jets American Football

Zach Wilson got his first taste of what life would be like playing against Bill Belichick and the Patriots twice a year. Needless to say, it was difficult for him.

Wilson struggled throwing the ball and reading the Patriots’ defense. That resulted in him throwing a whopping four interceptions. Four of his first eight passes were picked off, including his first two of the contest. The Jets scored just six points against the Patriots and lost 25-6 as a result of Wilson’s struggles.

It also illustrates what we already knew: Belichick simply knows how to rattle rookie quarterbacks.

Belichick improved his record against rookie passers to 22-6 via the Patriots’ victory over the Jets. Belichick’s defenses have now allowed just 9.5 points per game in their last six games against rookie quarterbacks. His opponents in those contests include Wilson, Tua Tagovailoa, Justin Herbert, Daniel Jones, Sam Darnold and Josh Allen. All were top-10 selections.

The Patriots have also allowed just 20 TD passes to rookie QBs under[……]

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Wolves owner Glen Taylor signs letter to buy Star Tribune

NBA

MINNEAPOLIS — Minnesota Timberwolves owner and printing magnate Glen Taylor has signed a letter of intent to buy the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Publ夜网论坛isher Michael Klingensmith announced the letter in a note to staff Tuesday.

Klingensmith says Taylor is going through due diligence that should lead to the sale of the company.

He gave no other details. Taylor told the Star Tribune he has made a cash offer without any other investors but declined to say how much. He told the newspaper he expects the sale to close in May.

The Star Tribune emerged from bankruptcy in 2009. A pair of investment companies, Wayzata Investment Partners and GE Capital, together own about 80 percent of the newspaper’s shares.

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LeBron James shares NBA 2K15 player intros for new-look Cavaliers

NBA

Expectations for the atmosphere surrounding the Cleveland Cavaliers’ first game of the 2014-15 season are ex夜网论坛tremely high, as they should be. The player introductions will be highlighted by LeBron James’ return and Kevin Love’s debut.

In anticipation of this day, NBA 2K15 simulated that first moment, when fans get their initial shot at cheering on James, Love and the other starters. James shared the video on his personal Twitter account, releasing introductions that started with Anderson Varejao, followed by Dion Waiters, Kyrie Irving, Love and, finally, James.

MORE: Nike revealing LeBron’s new shoe | Rubio loyal to Wolves | NBA highest paid

 

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Steve Kerr takes subtle shot at Rockets GM

NBA Basketball

The MVP debate is easily one of the most heated discussions every year, but Warriors coach Steve Kerr has bigger fish to fry.

Despite having the front-runner for this year’s MVP in Stephen Curry, Kerr told ESPN he’s focused on team goals and took a shot at Rockets GM Daryl Morey and his push for James 夜网论坛Harden.

MORE: Refs missed foul on Harden | Curry as an 8th grader | Clothes don’t make Sager

“We’re trying to win games. We’ve got a lot of work to do,” Kerr said on Thursday. “So, if Daryl Morey wants to run his own one-man campaign for James Harden, he can do that. That’s fine. But we’re focused on other stuff.”

After hearing of Kerr’s remarks, Morey responded on ESPN Radio.

“I would say that myself and James are only focused on winning the championship, so I think that’s a bit of a straw-man argument he set up,” Morey said.

The Warriors own the top spot in the Western Conference at 47-12, while the Rockets hold the fourth spot at 41-20.

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Kyrie carries Cavs with franchise-record 57-point effort

NBA

If LeBron James is using words like “special” and “incredible” to describe your play, you’re doing a lot of things right.

Kyrie Irving did almost everything right Thursday night in San Antonio. The Cavaliers point guard scored a career-high, franchise-record 57 points in Cleveland’s 128-125 overtime victory over the Spurs. Irving also set a league high for the season, two more than the 55 he dropped in late January.

MORE: KYRIE 1 flytrap shoe | Kobe still plans to return next season | ‘Good 夜网论坛chance’ Rose will play again this season

Irving was 20-for-32 from the floor (62.5 percent), 7-for-7 from 3, and 10-for-10 from the line. Twenty of his points came in the final six minutes, including a 3 at the buzzer that sent the game into OT.

“A few of those shots, it just left my hands and I kind of threw them up at the rim and I was lucky enough and blessed enough that they went in,” Irving told reportrers, per The Associated Press.

James knows it was more than luck.

“The kid is special, we all know it, we all see it,” James said, per the AP. “For him to go out and put on a performance like he did tonight was incredible.”

Irving, who’ll turn 23 on March 23, has made the adjustment to playing with King James. His averages this season (22.0 points, 5.2 assists, 46.9 percent shooting) are about the same as his career norms, but he’s compiling them as a second option. On Thursday, he stepped into the go-to role, even as James[……]

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Dwight Howard takes 'big step' toward return from knee injury

NBA Basketball

Almost one week after returning to practice, Rockets center Dwight Howard received encouraging news when the team upgraded his status from “out” to “doubtful” to play against the Pacers on Monday in Indianapolis, the Houston Chronicle reported Sunday.

“That’s a big step,” Howard said after being informed of the injury report change, per the Houston Chronicle. “I haven’t circled a day, but hopefully the next couple games I’ll be back.”

MORE: Doc Rivers uncertain on Crawford return | Blazers’ Aldridge aggravates hand injury | Curry’s circus shot

Howard夜网论坛 was expected to miss six to eight weeks after receiving a bone marrow aspirate injection in his right knee in February. Since the procedure, he has resumed on-court activities, working out alone and participating in two-on-two drills. Howard has been sidelined for Houston’s last 24 games with swelling in his knee. He additionally missed 11 games from Nov. 19 to Dec. 11 with a right knee strain and one game on Nov. 8 with flu-like symptoms. In total, he has sat out 36 games this season.

“I would love to,” Howard said of returning on Monday or Wednesday, “but it’s going to depend on how I feel later on today after the workout I just had and how I feel in the morning.

“I don’t know. Hopefully. We’ll see.”

Howard, 29, was the first overall selection of the 2004 NBA Draf[……]

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Cavaliers are spending ridiculous money for all the right reasons

NBA

It took all of one day of free agency to get there, as the Cavaliers demonstrated what their new look as defending Eastern Conference champs will be: much the same as their old look.

Cleveland has now doled out a max contract for Kevin Love, a $16 million-per-year deal for Tristan Thompson and $10 million-per-year for Iman Shumpert. A max-money deal for LeBron James is coming, too. The payouts are extraordinary, as the Cavs will have an NBA-record payroll of about $115 million next year, which would bring a luxury-tax bill of $85 million.

MORE: 12 affordable free agents who can really help | NBA free agency tracker

That could get worse next year, when they will be eligible for the repeater tax, which tacks another $1 onto the tally for each $1 over the tax. But, hey, it is Dan Gilbert’s money, and whatever can be said about his tenure as Cavs owner, it can’t be said that the man is not willing to spend to win these days.

An important offshoot in Gilbert’s willingness to keep this band together, though, is the fact that he’s also committing long-term to this band, with very little opportunity to change the roster going forward. Paying the luxury tax doesn’t just cost you money—it lessens the payouts available in the mid-level exception, limiting flexibility.

The Cavaliers are now about as flexible as peanut brittle.

But there was not much choice. Cleveland was already locked into Kyrie Irving’s contract, at $14.7[……]

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Warriors couldn't be undefeated without their ever-deepening bench

NBA

BOSTON — Golden State center Festus Ezeli was feeling a bit philosophical, so he turned to a presidential quotation — originally from Harry Truman, but co-opted by late UCLA coach John Wooden and subsequently by Warriors general manager Bob Myers. “It goes like this,” Ezeli said. “’It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.’ That is perfectly applicable to this team, because everyone is genuinely happy for each other when we succeed or when someone is down, everybody picks him up.”

Hard as it may be to believe, there are some overlooked storylines when it comes to the 23-0 Warriors, who attracted a rarely-seen-in-December throng of more than 50 local and national media for their Thursday morning practice here at Emerson College in Boston. But one of those story lines stretches beyond the play of star Stephen Curry and his top two honchos, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson. It’s in the deeper part of the rotation, the kind of guys who fill in the small cracks. Those guys are the difference between a great but mortal team with a few scattered losses, and the already legendary juggernaut the Warriors have become.

MORE: Bold predictions for the Warriors, this year and beyond  | Last season’s title parade

“Coming into this year, we all had to accept the challenge of getting better because the league got better as a whole, both in personnel and individually,” Ezeli said. “That’s how we had to[……]

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Kristaps Porzingis lives with family, stays out of limelight away from court

NBA null Basketball

Kristaps Porzingis may be the toast of the town in New York these days, but don’t expect him to take a sip from the cup. 

The Knicks rookie revealed that not only does he not drink, but that he lives with his parents in White Plains to stay out of the limelight and away from trouble.

“My family’s around to make sure I’m doing the right thing and staying out of trouble and focused on basketball,” Porzingis told the New York Post. “For me, it’s great to have family around.”

MORE: NBA scout breaks down top rookies | Dirk praises Porzingis

Two of Porzingis’ teammates have found trouble in The Big Apple in the past two weeks. Derrick Williams was robbed 夜网论坛of $750,000 worth of jewelry after taking two women back to his apartment two weeks ago and Cleanthony Early was robbed and shot outside a strip club in Queens on Wednesday morning. 

“It’s sad that things like that happen,” Porzingis said. “It shows how careful you have to be in those situations.”

The 20-year-old from Latavia has had success on the court, averaging 13.2 points and eight rebounds per game. He’s been a success off the court so far by taking heed to info he was given at the NBA’s rookie orientation in August. 

“A lot of good information in the program,” Porzing[……]

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Cavaliers receiving trade calls for benched big man Timofey Mozgov, report says

NBA Basketball

Cavaliers center Timofey Mozgov recently lost his starting role, and teams have noticed.

According to Yahoo Sports, several are interested in trading for Mozgov. The Cavaliers, however, have little incentive to trade the 7-1 big man whom they acquired from the Nuggets just last season, because he offers depth in the frontc夜网论坛ourt and might be the team’s best shot blocker.

MORE: Bold predictions for 2016 | LeBron says Kyrie ‘automatic All-Star’

On the other hand, he will be an unrestricted free agent this offseason and could garner a lot of interest, so the Cavaliers might be tempted to get something for him while they can.

Mozgov, who was replaced in the starting lineup by Tristan Thompson on Dec. 28., hasn’t played more than 17 minutes in a game since heading to the bench. He played a season-low five minutes Wednesday against the Wizards. After playing a big role last season for the reigning Eastern Conference champions, Mozgov has averaged just 6.3 points and 4.1 rebounds per game this season.

One contender that could be interested in Mozgov is the Pistons, who lack depth behind Andre Drummond. Detroit has a potential trade candidate in Brandon Jennings, who could provide guard depth with Mo Williams ailing.

At the end of the day, though, it seems unlikely Cleveland will trade away one of its assets while it is i[……]

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