Thunder tame Spurs, take home 9th in row

Thunder Put Away Spurs

 

"Well, I'm sure we'd like to have Kawhi, but that happens to every NBA team at some point in the season, " Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "You don't lose just because of that. We would have loved to have had him, but they played better than we did tonight for more of the game. "

Kevin Durant, whom Leonard would have defended, only had 17 points while going 6-for-14 from the field.

 

Instead, it was Westbrook and reserve guard Reggie Jackson who proved difficult to stop.

 

Jackson had 21 points, four assists and only one turnover in 30 minutes.

 

"This is the second game he's been playing good against us, " Parker said. "We have to find a solution for him. Westbrook and Durant, they are going to score and take a lot of shots, but we can't let Jackson score that much. That's two games in a row that I felt he's the one that hurt us the most. "

 

Westbrook and Jackson were a combined 21-for-36 and handed out 12 assists.

 

Playing their seventh game in 10 days, the Spurs looked lethargic after a strong start.

 

The Thunder never trailed after Jackson's reverse layup put them up 21-19 with a minute remaining in the first quarter. Jackson had 10 points in the quarter.

 

"Once we move the ball the way we did tonight, everybody touches it, we're a pretty good team, " Durant said. "Once (the ball) gets sticky and try to play one-on-one, that's when we kind of struggle. Russell is doing a great job of getting everybody involved and picking and choosing his spots; when to score. "

 

The Spurs had won six of seven entering Saturday's game, but couldn't recover from the second-quarter pasting.

 

"They made a lot of shots, you have to give them credit, " Parker said. "I thought overall we played well, but they just played better. "

 

The Spurs committed five turnovers while taking only 17 shots in the period, which was one less than the Thunder made.

 

San Antonio was 20-for-49 in the paint, continually missing layups.

 

"That was tough, " Parker said. "We couldn't get a lead. We were playing well, we made some stops, but we missed a lot of layups, that's basketball. "

 

The Spurs pulled within a pair of baskets on several occasions in the second half, but the Thunder responded with a small run each time.

 

Jackson was usually at the forefront of the runs, going 8-for-14.

 

"I just told the guys to keep inspiring each other on the defensive end, " Brooks said. "I told them to help their teammates out when they needed help and I felt they did that extremely well tonight. We have improved in that area for the past few years, but tonight was really good. "

Game notes

Parker (shin bruise) was questionable, but started and played 33 minutes. He had eight assists while shooting 6-for-14… Entering Saturday's game, the Thunder were averaging 109. 9 points during their eight-game winning streak and shooting 50. 2 percent… Popovich was whistled for a technical foul after complaining to official Monty McCutchen about a non-call on

Tiago Splitter

's dunk attempt against Ibaka.

 

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Zab Judah vs. Paulie Malignaggi: Play-by-Play & Live Updates

Sherdog.com has reside updates from Brooklyn, N.Y., wherewelterweights Paulie Malignaggi and Zab Judah will clash in a12-round boxing bout.

Try the MMAForums to discuss the card or enter your feedback andpredictions beneath. Have a query for Sherdog.com’s medicalexpert? Tweet The Struggle Doctor via @FightMedicine.

Undercard Bouts

Zab Judah vs. PaulieMalignaggi

Round 1

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The Official Outcome

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Spurs pull away from Celtics, push win streak to eight

SAN ANTONIO – Although the San Antonio Spurs seem slightly methodical and downright boring to some, they are having fun with themselves this season and that’s ruining the fun for others.

Tony Parker scored 19 factors before sitting out the fourth quarter and the Spurs beat the Boston Celtics 104-ninety three Wednesday evening, profitable their eighth straight total and remaining undefeated at residence.

San Antonio had 27 assists and six players rating in double figures, rallying from a torpid begin to lead by as many as 19 factors within the second half.

“Those moments when we begin to play better `D,’ push the ball and be more aggressive, then it’s enjoyable to watch, it is exciting and that is what we’d like,” San Antonio guard Manu Ginobili stated. “We’re not exciting in a way that we will have alley-oops and windmills [dunking] and stuff like that, but we pass the ball very well. We penetrate and pitch, and all people gets involved and that is enjoyable.”

Kawhi Leonard had 16 factors and Tim Duncan rebounded from a poor outing in San Antonio’s previous home game to attain thirteen points. Boris Diaw had 12 factors, Tiago Splitter added 11 factors and 10 rebounds and Danny Green 11 points for the Spurs (10-1).

San Antonio shot forty eight p.c from the field and was eight for 21 on three-pointers as Boston struggled to close on the Spurs’ shooters.

“Phew,” Celtics ahead Jared Sullinger stated, exhaling when asked in regards to the Spurs’ ball motion. “They seem to be a powerful workforce to play. On any given night, anyone can go off. Honestly, they transfer the ball. They care less about scoring; they play together as a team.

“They’ve go-to players however they rarely use them because they transfer the ball so well and they play as a staff, so that they’re arduous to guard.

Sullinger, Avery Bradley and Jeff Green each had 19 factors for Boston (4-9), which has lost five straight.

There were 10 lead changes and 14 ties in the first half, as neither workforce was in a position to sustain any momentum.

While the Spurs weren’t proud of the early efforts, first-12 months coach Brad Stevens was pleased with the Celtics forging a 48-all tie at the half.

“The team that played tonight could be a very fun group to construct with,” Stevens mentioned. “I think that is what you take from right here. We talked about this early within the 12 months. There’s going to be nights the place we measure progress a bit bit otherwise.”

That progress was stunted within the second half, as San Antonio was capable of draw back midway via the third quarter behind robust particular person efforts by Leonard, Parker and Ginobili.

Leonard keyed the resurgence, scoring 10 of 12 points, together with a 3-pointer that put San Antonio ahead 61-52 with eight minutes left within the quarter.

“He can do this kind of factor,” Diaw said. “He’s really proficient and he proved that already final 12 months. This year is no completely different. Generally, when he gets it going, it’ll be very laborious to cease [him].”

Leonard had 12 factors, 5 rebounds and two steals in the third quarter, as San Antonio outscored Boston 32-22.

“I’m still having fun; that’s why I’m still taking part in,” Leonard stated. “We’re successful, you can’t have extra enjoyable than that, when you’re winning and on a superb team.”

Parker made two dazzling layups, first presenting the ball along with his right hand to attract a defender out of the lane and spinning again for a layup between defenders and then spinning away from a defender in the lane for a layup on the fitting facet of the basket.

Ginobili actually wrapped a cross round a defender, tossing behind around a charging Brandon Bass to seek out Diaw reducing to the basket for a layup. Ginobili finished with 5 factors and six assists.

After scoring only two points within the Spurs’ previous residence game against Washington, Duncan made the sport’s first two baskets because the group focused him early. He finished three for 13, however was 7 for 8 on free throws while additionally grabbing nine rebounds.

Notes

San Antonio is tied with Indiana for the league’s best file, however its victories have come against groups with a combined winning percentage of408 getting into Wednesday’s video games. Only two the Spurs’ wins have come towards groups above500. Their solely loss was against Portland, which is 10-2 after defeating Milwaukee… Boston’s Keith Bogans was not with the staff because of an undisclosed illness… San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich was issued a technical foul with four minutes left within the recreation after haranguing referee David Guthrie continually for an absence of calls. Popovich smiled, appearing amused by the technical… The Huge Three of Duncan, Parker and Ginobili have performed 629 games together, which is the most amongst lively teammates and fifth all-time. The trio surpassed Derek Harper, Brad Davis and Rolando Blackman of the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday and path the main trio of Robert Parrish, Kevin McHale and Larry Chook by one hundred video games performed collectively.

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LeBron, Heat handle Cavs, win 8th in a row

Warmth Top Cavaliers, Win Eighth Straight

CLEVELAND – LeBron James may finally be himself. He smiled easily, joked around and blew just a few kisses to the gang.

This journey residence was totally different than the others. There was much less pressure, fewer boos, nothing to worry.

This time, James virtually felt welcomed.

James scored 28 factors and appeared more relaxed than in previous games back in Cleveland, main the Miami Warmth to their eighth straight win, 95-84 over the Cavaliers on Wednesday night.

He added eight rebounds and eight assists in his fifth sport as a customer towards the Cavs, the workforce that drafted him and the one he led to the NBA Finals earlier than leaving as a free agent three years in the past to chase NBA championships in Miami. James improved to eleven-1 against Cleveland.

Not like his previous 4 visits, James wasn’t the goal of nonstop booing or taunts. There wasn’t the hatred that crammed Quicken Loans Enviornment the primary time he came back on Dec. 2, 2010.

“It has been much less and fewer for the reason that first time I used to be right here,” said James, soaking his ankles in an ice bucket and drinking a postgame smoothie. “Nothing may be worse than that.”

Dwyane Wade added 22 factors and Michael Beasley 17 for Miami, which coasted during lengthy stretches and never appeared threatened.

Dion Waiters, the topic of commerce rumors, scored a season-high 24 and Kyrie Irving had sixteen for Cleveland.

The Heat opened a 15-level lead in the third and responded to each spurt by the Cavs, who obtained inside eight in the remaining two minutes.

James outscored Cleveland’s starters 28-26, and except for arguing a couple of calls with the officers that did not go his manner, the four-time MVP and two-time champ enjoyed his go to house as he reminded Cavaliers followers what they have been missing.

After the ultimate horn, James waved to some fans and tossed his headband and wrist bracelets into the crowd the way he always did when he performed in Cleveland.

“Of late, there have been some cheers here,” Wade said. “At the finish of the day, he is from Ohio. I believe some followers are proud of that.”

The Cavs, who came in to the season with playoff expectations, have misplaced four in a row and seven of eight. Six of their eleven losses have been by greater than 10 factors.

“Everyone else can write us off,” Irving mentioned. “However on this locker room, we believe in each other. We’re going to figure this out.”

The ambiance inside the world was subdued compared to James’ earlier journeys.

There was energy, however not the identical anger as many Clevelanders appear to have moved on and are more concerned with the struggling Cavs getting better than venting at James.

The disgust has decayed. This time it was a sport, not an occasion.

In reality, issues have cooled to the purpose that a group of fans have started a campaign to bring again James, who can decide out of his contract and turn out to be a free agent subsequent summer. The group handed out neon inexperienced “Come House LeBron” T-shirts exterior the arena earlier than the game.

He obtained the usual boos when he took the floor, but he was quickly blowing kisses to fans within the seats as he acknowledged acquainted faces and mates. Earlier than the opening tip, James pointed toward Cavs coach Mike Brown, who nodded toward a former player who has completed a lot of rising up.

James began slowly, scoring simply 3 factors within the first quarter, which ended with the Cavs leading 28-22.

He changed footwear between quarters, swapping a red pair for black ones. In numerous kicks, his recreation kicked into gear. He scored 9 factors within the second quarter, when the Heat turned up their defensive strain and held the Cavaliers to 14 factors on 5 of 25 capturing.

“I did not feel good early on, however once I acquired back into the sport I started feeling higher,” James stated. “In the second quarter I bought into some good rhythm. We started knocking down some photographs and I acquired some rebounds and steals.”

James seemed intent on ending his evening early. He scored Miami’s first eight points of the third and fed Chris Bosh for 2 layups. James dropped a three-pointer and his free throw gave the Heat their greatest lead at 68-fifty three.

The Cavs came in reeling following a 30-level beatdown in San Antonio on Saturday.

Adding to their disarray was a report that the club is trying to commerce Waiters, who denied he requested to be moved and insists he loves playing in Cleveland.

“It’s simply nonsense,” Waiters stated. “There’s been issues thrown out there that have not been true at all.”

Game notes

James will host Thanksgiving for his teammates at his 30,000-square-foot mansion in Tub, Ohio, on Thursday. James determined to have his teammates over when he realized the crew was headed to Canada to play on the day after the vacation. “Toronto would not have fun Thanksgiving,” he said. “It was either do it at a resort or do it at my house. I would a lot relatively do it at my home.”.. Brown mentioned No. 1 total decide

Anthony Bennett

has been making regular progress. “He is a younger man looking for his way,” Brown stated… The Warmth have been without forwards

Shane Battier

(flu) and

Udonis Haslem

(again).

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Related Press

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Eight draft cliches to look out for

AFL Draft Day for 2013 has arrived, with nervous gamers from across the country waiting for his or her shot on the large time.

2003's No 1 pick Adam Cooney (left) rocks a blond mop at the Wildlife Park in Darwin after being selected by the Bulldogs.

2003’s No 1 pick Adam Cooney (left) rocks a blond mop on the Wildlife Park in Darwin after being selected by the Bulldogs. Supply: Information Corp Australia

 

The AFL draft is a sport in itself, the place the cliches fly as thick and quick because the choices.

While not all picks are predictable (particularly after the first dozen), you’ll be able to bet some issues by no means change.

 

Commentators will gush over the younger talent while club officials will do their best to try to temper fans’ expectations on that subsequent massive thing.

Here’s some issues to maintain your eyes out for. Tick them off as you watch and see how you go.

1. TEARY MUMS

Families of the probably Top 10 picks have jetted in from throughout the country to the Gold Coast for tonight’s draft. They’ve been flown there as a result of their son is among the hottest prospects in the country.

They know they’re going to be drafted. They’ve identified for fairly some time. So there is no cause to cry, is there? Incorrect.

Cameron Ling was famously chubby when drafted by Geelong recruiter Stephen Wells in 1999.

Cameron Ling was famously chubby when drafted by Geelong recruiter Stephen Wells in 1999. Source: News Corp Australia

2. PET FAT

Taking a look at pics from drafts of yesteryear, we couldn’t help however keep coming again to 1 factor: who are these pimply-faced porkers and the way come an AFL membership ever drafted them? We could also be exaggerating a tad there, however take a superb, hard look at these future stars immediately. They won’t look the identical in a couple of years’ time. They will be imply, lean running machines.

three. AUDIO ISSUES

“Sorry, can you repeat that please, North Melbourne?” With microphones perched on tables in any respect 18 AFL golf equipment – in addition to at the lectern of AFL boss Andrew Demetriou – it is amazing the occasion runs as smoothly as it does. But you may guess the league boss will have to get a minimum of one membership to repeat their desired choose at some stage all through the evening.

A young Western Australian who as soon as dreamt of taking part in within the NBA could be this season’s AFL draft bolter.

four. SNAP-GLAD COMPANIONS

The draft is all concerning the players, but don’t be shocked to see just a few girlfriends getting in on a few of the glitz and glamour of the event.

It’s a long haul from draft evening to the red carpet of the Brownlow Medal, but some young women might get their first style of the AFL footy highlight on draft evening.

5. THRILLED KIDS

Irrespective of how arduous they try to sell it, there’s most likely a hint of disappointment for a lot of draftees compelled to pack up and transfer interstate. But you wouldn’t comprehend it from interviews.

“I’m just thrilled to get a chance to play league footy.. I knew I could possibly be drafted anywhere.. I am unable to wait to get up/over/throughout there and meet the boys” is a typical response.

Occasionally we’d love to see a truthful reply, something along the lines of “I’m a little bit of a Mummy’s boy to be honest and I would have favored to have stayed at residence,” ideally while Brisbane-based mostly Irishman Pearce Hanley shakes his head and tuts disapprovingly in the background whereas Skyping his household sixteen,000km away. We can solely hope.

Brisbane-based Mayoman Pearce Hanley - no fan of mummy's boys. Picture: Jono Searle.

Brisbane-based Mayoman Pearce Hanley — no fan of mummy’s boys. Picture: Jono Searle. Source: Information Corp Australia

6. THE RANDOM CHOICE

There’s one every year. The decide that stuns even commentators. You understand one thing’s up when no photo seems on display screen and Kevin Sheehan, a Jedi Grasp among the draft, struggles to give you something about this “relative unknown”. Let’s hope there’s a few on Thursday night as they all the time boost the night.

7. SPECTACULAR HAIRCUTS

As for those who did not really feel old enough watching folks born within the mid 1990s (!) residing the dream while you munch Cheezels and scratch yourself on the couch, there’ll at all times be one or two haircuts on present assured to show you into your dad.

“What the hell is that!” you’ll yell before shaking your head and reminiscing about the glory manly-mullet-filled days of yore.

eight. EVERYONE’S A WINNER

It’s the one day (or night) of the AFL season when every membership wins. Just ask them.

“We were actually happy with how our night time went.. we expect we’ve managed to fill a couple of holes on our listing, and so on, and so on,” your club will say.

Like point 5, this is another case the place just once we might like someone to tell us that maybe their evening had been lower than preferrred, maybe…: “Every time we wished to select a bloke (insert membership of your choice) swooped in and selected that precise participant we wished! What a load of bull-! You wouldn’t read about it etc.”

 

A young Western Australian who once dreamt of playing in the NBA could possibly be this season’s AFL draft bolter.

 

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No. 1 UConn easily controls No. 3 Stanford

Mosqueda-Lewis Damage In UConn’s Win

 

STORRS, Conn. – Geno Auriemma was hoping for an early season test for his top-ranked Connecticut Huskies. He simply did not need it to come on the worth of dropping his All-America ahead.

Bria Hartley had 20 points, eight rebounds and six assists to assist No. 1 Connecticut beat No. 3 Stanford 76-fifty seven on Monday night.

Kiah Stokes added 10 points, thirteen rebounds and six blocks for the Huskies (2-zero), who bought a scare early within the second half when preseason All-America Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis went down attempting for a rebound.

She landed awkwardly on her proper elbow and was down screaming in pain for a few minutes before being helped to the locker room. Auriemma wasn’t positive how badly his star was damage.

“They’re simply going to maintain evaluating her (Tuesday) and see how she responds,” Auriemma stated. “They actually don’t know anything right now. She landed with her palm on the ground then when her arm bent her elbow hit the floor. There are two separate things she’s attempting to figure out.”

The injury didn’t slow down the Huskies, who were in the middle of a 22-6 run that spanned the halves.

Morgan Tuck, her substitute, scored eight straight points, together with two three-pointers, to make it 53-32 with 13:19 left. Stanford couldn’t get closer than 15 factors the remainder of the way in which.

Amber Orrange scored a profession-excessive 22 factors to steer the Cardinal (1-1). Chiney Ogwumike added 16 points and 13 rebounds, but Stanford got little other offense.

“I believe this sort of let our staff know we’re 20 factors away,” Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer said. “How do you make that up. We gave up too many ‘O’ boards for baskets. We despatched them to free throw line for no cause. We have to do little things accurately and deal with that for the remainder of the season.”

The Huskies should hope that Mosqueda-Lewis is not injured too badly. They’ve a busy week forward with a trip to No. eight Maryland on Friday earlier than a recreation at No. thirteen Penn State on Sunday.

“It looks as if these three video games usually are not exactly teams which can be going to allow you to do what you want to do. It’s tough. Possibly it’s purported to be difficult,” Auriemma mentioned. “Final 12 months was very simple in the beginning. We went down won by a bunch and the whole lot was going easily. This one’s not going to go smoothly. This one is hard.”

The Cardinal and Huskies have had numerous massive video games over the past few seasons. Final yr UConn snapped Stanford’s eighty two-recreation unbeaten run at Maples Pavilion with a simple sixty one-35 victory. Two years earlier the Cardinal stopped the Huskies’ NCAA record 90-sport successful streak. They also met within the Closing Four or NCAA championship game three straight years from 2008-10.

Lots much less was on the line Monday night. The game received off to a sluggish start with each teams missing open shots.

The teams combined to overlook 14 of their first 16 area goal attempts. To make matters worse for the Huskies, preseason All-America Breanna Stewart picked up two fast fouls and sat out the rest of the half. In stepped Stokes.

The 6-foot-3 junior was dominant on both ends of the court docket. Blocking photographs, grabbing rebounds and hitting free throws, Stanford had no reply for her.

UConn led 31-26 with 2:28 left within the half earlier than scoring the final eight factors of the period. Stokes received the run began with a turnaround jumper. She completed the first half with eight points, eight rebounds and five blocks and helped the Huskies pull away to a 39-26 lead.

“Kiah performed the most effective game she’s performed since she’s been at Connecticut,” Auriemma said. “She was unbelievably good in just about every space. I hope that’s the beginning of something that changes our crew tremendously.”

Stanford couldn’t muster a lot offense moreover Ogwumike and Orrange. The two combined for 22 of the crew’s 26 factors on the half. They had been 9 for 16 from the sphere whereas the remainder of the crew was simply 2 for 19.

“We’ll be a distinct staff come December, March, April. The purpose is to develop from this experience,” Ogwumike said. “This team (UConn) is the standard. Take that as motivation to get better all year long.”

With the loss, VanDerveer remained 5 victories wanting changing into the fifth coach to succeed in 900. She’s attempting to join Pat Summitt, Sylvia Hatchell, C. Vivian Stringer and Jody Conradt.

This was Stanford’s first journey to Connecticut’s campus since 1993. The Cardinal gained that game 68-54. The groups have performed their other video games in Connecticut in Hartford.

The Huskies celebrated last season’s eighth national championship one final time by unveiling a banner commemorating the title they gained in New Orleans.

 

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Big mistake on kickoff return leads to Packers’ first 14-point first-quarter deficit in eight years

(USA Right now Sports activities Pictures)

Back in 2005, or about 17 Brett Favre retirements ago, the Packers trailed by 14 points to Baltimore within the first quarter. Amazingly, in accordance with Fox’s broadcast, they’d not trailed by 14 points in the first quarter in any sport till Sunday.

The Packers did not simply fall behind by 14 in opposition to Cincinnati, they did so in (embarrassing) model.

After giving up a 7-zero lead on an extended drive to start out the game, the Packers lined up to obtain the kickoff and give the ball to Aaron Rodgers. But Jeremy Ross had different ideas.

Ross, the Packers’ kickoff returner, overran the kickoff and muffed it, leaving the ball on the ground inside the 5-yard line. The Bengals received to it, recovered on the 2, and on the subsequent play BenJarvus Green-Ellis bulled into the tip zone for a 2-yard touchdown.

With that Rodgers confronted a state of affairs he hadn’t seen in his NFL career, working again from a 14-point deficit in the first quarter.

  • Sports & Recreation
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Juggernaut Index, No. 12: The Detroit Lions

It takes a special participant to disappoint everyone, in a 4900-yard season (Getty Photos)

Things didn’t precisely end nicely for the Detroit Lions last season. The crew lost its last eight games, typically in improbable and excruciating trend. In Weeks 11-13, the Lions managed to lose three straight residence games in which they held leads inside the ultimate 2 minutes of regulation. That ain’t simple.

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Detroit had 9 single-digit losses last season, dropping 5 of these games by margins of 4 points or less. They lost a recreation when the top coach threw an unlawful problem flag, following a brutal non-call. They misplaced one other sport because they botched a possibility to kick a chip-shot OT discipline objective on fourth down. The Lions went 0-6 throughout the division final season and a couple of-6 at Ford Field, posting the worst house report in the NFC.

Without piling on any further, let’s merely say that 2012 was a messy year for this franchise, loaded with close to-misses.

Even the incomparable Calvin Johnson, within the midst of an all-time season, had a bizarre behavior of not quite breaking the airplane when he bought himself near the aim line. Johnson was tackled at the 1-yard line 5 times final yr, and he was introduced down inside the 5 on eight separate occasions. So whereas Megatron managed to determine a brand new NFL file for single-season receiving yardage, his fantasy production really dipped by almost 40 points in customary leagues from 2011 to 2012.

So yeah, um.. impressive vertical (Getty) Calvin still remains in a tier of one at his position, after all. It is virtually not possible to build a case for taking another receiver ahead of him, no matter your scoring system. (OK, I suppose if you happen to’re the sort of fantasy proprietor likes to take partial-season stats and extrapolate, then possibly you’re taking a look at Dez’s second-half and projecting 1700 yards and 20 touchdowns. But you are grossly oversimplifying the method of forecasting.) Johnson has finished as fantasy’s high-scoring receiver in every of the previous two seasons, and he is ranked within the high-eight in 4 of the past five years. He’s reliably brilliant, blessed with superhero-degree dimension and athleticism. ‘Tron ought to be drafted in the first-half of the first spherical in mainly all leagues.

In a typical year, the participant who leads the NFL in targets will see one hundred seventy-one hundred eighty balls. Last season, Johnson noticed 204. That’s just an absurd quantity — tough to wrap your head round, till you do not forget that Matthew Stafford put the ball in the air 727 times, obliterating the report for makes an attempt.

Stafford possesses high-of-the-charts arm energy, but for every wow throw he makes, there’s no less than one yikes throw. He was hardly a mannequin of effectivity final 12 months, finishing fifty nine.eight percent of his passes (down from sixty three.5) and gaining simply 6.8 yards per try (down from 7.6). He completed with only 20 passing touchdowns after delivering 41 the season before.

Still, quantity goes a great distance in fantasy. Stafford clearly remains a beginning-caliber quarterback in our sport, a terrific worth decide at his current Yahoo! ADP (sixty three.2). The man owns two of the all-time top-7 passing yardage seasons, he directs an offense that averages over 40 makes an attempt per sport, and he has Earth’s most dominant receiver at his disposal. So long as Stafford stays wholesome, he’ll have a troublesome time avoiding the highest-10 at his place. Unhealthy luck actually played a job in Stafford’s low TD total last year, as ‘Tron wasn’t the one Detroit wideout who was repeatedly tripped up close to the top zone. Final season, Lions receivers were tackled inside the 5-yard line a league-high 23 instances.

Detroit’s receiving corps is stuffed with acquainted faces, most of them low-ceiling fantasy choices: Brandon Pettigrew, Nate Burleson, Mike Thomas, et al. Pettigrew’s value crashed last yr, as he gave us a disappointing fifty nine-567-3 season after back-to-again seven hundred-yard campaigns. Drops were one issue (9), and a dip in targets didn’t help, either (126 to 102). Pettigrew is a member of one of the best-form-of-his-life club, in response to camp studies, so we’ll see if that makes a difference. He doesn’t must be owned in leagues of standard measurement, however a small bounce-again wouldn’t surprise.

Ryan Broyles‘s restoration from a late-season ACL tear — his second such damage within a thirteen-month period — has really been one of the extra impressive and under-mentioned NFL stories of camp season. Broyles tore the ligament on December 2, 2012, yet he participated in mini-camp simply six months later. This child set the FBS career receptions file at Oklahoma (349), so he has the potential to be a PPR machine. Keep him in your plans as an finish-game flier.

The most vital offseason addition to the Lions offense, with out query, was operating back Reggie Bush, a guy coming off back-to-again high quality seasons in Miami. Bush has re-written his scouting report over the previous two years, shedding a number of of his negative Saints-period tendencies and missing only one sport resulting from damage.

If you’re wondering how Reggie will be utilized in Detroit, check the film from the team’s preseason opener, a 26-17 win over the Jets. Bush lined up at each possible spot. On the workforce’s opening sequence, we first saw him in a two-again shotgun set, then as a single again behind Stafford, and then he was split out wide…

That’s Bush at the backside of the frame, inflicting Jets DBs to frantically flap their arms. From that formation, the Lions hit Calvin within the slot for a straightforward 8-yard acquire. Detroit went with an empty backfield on the following play, with Reggie within the slot.

So it appears doubtless that Bush shall be utilized in every single place, stressing opposing defenses in multiple methods. He is a robust candidate to catch 70-plus passes and achieve 1300-plus scrimmage yards. I’m a lot bullish. Let’s simply hope he escapes the preseason with out getting dinged.

Mikel Leshoure remains in the staff image, too, probably in a brief-yardage function (as a result of there is no such thing as a lengthy-yardage aspect to Mikel’s recreation). Leshoure definitely didn’t thoughts seeing all these Lions receivers tackled within inches of the purpose line final season; he scored six touchdowns on runs of two yards or less. Joique Bell was this workforce’s most impressive runner final 12 months (5.zero YPC), and he is the guy I’d want within the occasion of a Bush malfunction. Notre Dame rookie Theo Riddick has made some noise in camp, but he is only a man fighting for depth chart position for the time being.

The Lions protection ranked twenty seventh in factors-allowed final season (27.three), they usually rarely made huge performs. They intercepted only eleven balls, compelled just nine fumbles, and did not record a defensive TD. But this team’s D-line options three dudes who had been early first-spherical draft picks (Ndamukong Suh, Nick Fairley, Ziggy Ansah), so that you’d wish to suppose they may blow up a fair variety of performs this season. The camp stories have been encouraging to date. If security Louis Delmas may give us one thing close to a full season, perhaps this secondary will be less ordinary. For now, you need to consider the Detroit D/ST as a stream-only fantasy option, not approved for normal use.

2012 staff stats: 23.3 points per recreation (17), 321.2 passing yards per recreation (2), one hundred.eight speeding yards per recreation (23)

Previous Juggernauts: 32. NY Jets, 31. Oakland, 30. Jacksonville, 29. Buffalo, 28. Cleveland, 27. Tennessee, 26. San Diego, 25. Miami, 24. St. Louis, 23. Pittsburgh, 22. Arizona, 21. Minnesota, 20. Kansas City, 19. Chicago, 18. Baltimore, 17. Philadelphia, sixteen. Indianapolis, 15. Carolina, 14. Cincinnati, 13. NY Giants

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Colts TE Weslye Saunders suspended eight games for violating PEDs policy

Colts TE Weslye Saunders has been suspended (Getty Images)

The National Football League announced on Thursday that Indianapolis Colts tight end Weslye Saunders has been suspended without pay for eight games after violating the league’s policy against performance-enhancing drugs.

While a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Saunders was suspended for the first four games of the 2012 season for violating the same policy, a positive result attributed to Adderall. The Steelers released Saunders after his suspension was served and the former undrafted free agent out of South Carolina was signed by the Colts.

Saunders played in 14.84 percent of the Colts’ offensive snaps and 24.33 percent of the special teams snaps, totaling two receptions for 15 yards with one tackle in 11 regular season games (and four starts). Saunders also dressed for the Colts’ 24-9 loss to the Baltimore Ravens in the wild-card playoff game.

The eight-game suspension will cost Saunders $261,176 in base salary and likely jeopardizes his spot on the Colts’ roster moving forward. With Bruce Arians taking the head coaching position with the Arizona Cardinals in January, the Colts are changing offensive systems under new coordinator Pep Hamilton. Multiple tight end personnel groupings will still be utilized, but Saunders was behind Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen on the depth chart. The Colts also invested the final pick in the 2013 draft on Justice Cunningham, Saunders’ former teammate at South Carolina, who could earn the No. 3 role during training camp and the preseason.

Saunders’ suspension is the latest negative incident the Colts will have to deal with this offseason. In June, second-year wide receiver LaVon Brazill was suspended four games for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. Less than a week after Brazill was suspended, safety Joe Lefeged was arrested on weapons charges.

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Tuukka Rask re-signs with Bruins for $56 million over eight years

The Boston Bruins and Tuukka Rask have finally come to an agreement as to how much and for how long he should be paid.

The verdict: a lot. For a long time.

On Wednesday, Rask agreed to terms on an extension that will pay him $56 million over next eight years. It’s max term for the restricted free agent, and if there was such a thing as max money, this might be it. At $7 million per season, Rask ties Nashville Predators’ goalie Pekka Rinne for the league’s highest cap hit among goalies, according to CapGeek.

(One assumes Glen Sather wishes this was the max contract. Henrik Lundqvist going to get more than this.)

It couldn’t have worked out better for Rask, who’s coming off a one-year deal that paid him $3.5 million in 2012-13. It was something of a show-me contract, as the Bruins set him up for a massive payout this offseason if he could prove he was the franchise goalie he appeared to be.

Prove it he did, as Rask went 19-10-5 with a 2.00 goals against average and a929 save percentage, leading the league in shutouts and finishing fifth in Vezina voting for his work during a season.

He kicked it up a notch in the postseason, leading the Bruins all the way to the Stanley Cup Final. He would likely have been their Conn Smythe winner had they managed to eke out two more wins over Chicago.

That’s the sort of season that’ll get you paid, and man alive, did it ever.

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Claude Giroux, Flyers agree to eight year, $66.2 million extension

Claude Giroux is either going to spend the next eight years in Philadelphia or he’s one step closer to a lucrative buyout.

The star centre and the Philadelphia Flyers have finalized a massive, eight-year, $66.2 million extension, according to ESPN’s Pierre Lebrun.

Clearly, the buyouts of Ilya Bryzgalov and Daniel Briere have in no way discouraged the Flyers from handing out insanely large, long contracts.

The cap hit on this gargantuan contract is $8.25 million, putting Giroux in the company of Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf, Eric Staal, and Evgeni Malkin. Fortunately for the cap-strapped Flyers, it doesn’t kick in until next year.

Is Giroux worth this kind of money?

Going off his 93-point season, a season in which Peter Laviolette called him the best player in hockey and he outplayed Sidney Crosby in a legendary series, sure. But that’s Giroux’s only season above a point per game. This is a lot of money to give to a guy — not to mention power, as the deal comes with a full no-movement clause for its entirety — on the basis on one good season.

I’m not trying to say Giroux isn’t worth it. He’s a star, on par with all the names in his cap bracket, and it’s tough to measure anyone in Philadelphia by the lockout year. It was a strange one, and most believe it didn’t represent Giroux at his best.

But even still, this is a dizzyingly immense deal, and while Giroux is undoubtedly the best player on the Flyers, it’s going to take more than a point per game pace, and an improvement on last season, for him to justify it.

Granted, if it’s a slight overpayment, it’s not like the Flyers will mind. This organization is rich beyond their wildest dreams and appears to operate on a plane beyond the salary cap.

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Penguins come to terms with Kris Letang; also sign him for eight years, $58 million

Kris Letang and the Pittsburgh Penguins hit that relationship wall. You know the one. After some great years together, it was time for something more. They could take the next step, accept one another for who they both were, and commit to one another long-term. Or they could break up.

They chose the former. On Tuesday, the Penguins announced that they and Letang have agreed to an eight-year, $58 million extension. Expect the “save the date” in the mail.

From the Penguins:

The deal begins with the 2014-15 season and runs through the 2021-22 campaign, and has an average annual value of $7.25 million.

Letang, 26, is coming off his best season, finishing third in balloting for the Norris Trophy as the best defenseman in the NHL. Letang led all NHL blueliners in both points (t-38) and assists (33) while posting a plus-16 rating and in 35 regular-season games. His 1.09 point-per-game average led all defensemen.

The 6-foot, 201-pound defenseman established careers highs during the postseason with team-leading totals of 13 assists and 16 points in 15 contests. Letang’s 16 points were tops among league defensemen, while his 13 assists were second in the entire NHL behind only Boston’s David Krejci (17).

I hate to be too obvious here, but that’s a whole lot of money, especially for a defenceman that seems to occasionally struggle with what one assumes is his primary responsibility. Letang isn’t always the most reliable guy in his own zone, is what I’m saying.

Earlier in this process, it was reported that, due in large part to this one little glitch in Letang’s programming, Ray Shero didn’t believe Letang was worth more than $6 million per year. But Letang’s cap hit will stand at a gaudy $7.25. What happened?

I’d say reality set in, and they came to terms with the new CBA, as well as who their guy is. It’s tough to argue with what Letang can do offensively, and a player that can start the breakout and get the puck to the stars in dangerous areas the way he can is going to get paid handsomely, especially if the negotiations begin after a Norris nomination. (Meanwhile, as @BonksMullet points out, the Norris winner is probably doing this right about now.)

Letang’s ability to feed the stars is, I think, the big thing to remember about this massive contract: The Penguins now have Malkin, Letang and Crosby locked up through 2022, and while Letang can be a bit shaky defensively, there’s no doubting that his presence boosts production from the Penguins’ two star centres. If you want to get full value from your two scoring champions (and you’ve got $180 million committed to them, so it certainly behooves you to do so), you keep your best puck-mover around.

There’s a concern here, of course. When Malkin and Letang’s deals kick in, the Penguins will have $25.45 million of the cap — about 40% of this year’s — committed to three guys for a long, long time. That’s crazy, and it’s going to impede flexibility at times.

The good news: if Letang can tighten up, the Penguins are set for just shy of a decade. But if he can’t — if he continues to be a somewhat punchier version of Brian Campbell (who, it should be noted, got a similar contract in 2008) — Letang could turn out to be both a Penguin and an albatross for the next eight years.

UPDATE: For the Post-Gazette, “Letang’s contract allows him to stipulate 12 team before each season to which he CANNOT be traded.”

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