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Every episode seems to top the last, as Friday’s chaos proved yet again.

And while one of the NBA’s crown-jewel franchises was thrashed by its archrival at Staples Center, Lakers governor and president Jeanie Buss watched from her usual seat near the baseline. At one point in the third quarter, when the Boston Celtics led by 31, actress Dyan Cannon came over from her baseline seat.

The Hollywood icon placed both hands on Buss’s arms in a comforting embrace, and as she spoke, Buss nodded. Amid a painful 115-95 blowout loss, it wasn’t an uncommon scene, as Buss received many hugs and, no doubt, words of encouragement from friends as her family’s infighting continues to drag the Lakers down.

Jeanie Buss was on hand Friday to see the Lakers fall to 19-43 with a 20-point loss to Boston. AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill
But it’s hard to imagine the Lakers’ drama playing out in Cannon’s world just up the 101 freeway.

At this point, even Hollywood might think such a script strays too far from reality.

But Friday marks a fitting time to discuss Durant, specifically, with the Celtics in town. The Celtics were never considered a free-agent destination, yet as they’ve steadily risen in recent years, that notion has changed a bit. And Boston became one of a handful of teams with which Durant sat down last summer, and the Celtics ultimately reeled in All-Star forward Al Horford, the top available free agent after Durant.

The Celtics last reached the NBA Finals in 2010, when they faced the Lakers. Yet since that point, both organizations have headed in opposite directions, rapidly so. One is focused on basketball, the other on everything but.

The Lakers are reality TV, every episode more surreal than the last.

Saints vs. Cowboys 2014 final score: 3 things we learned from Dallas’ 38-17 win

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The last time the Dallas Cowboys and New Orleans Saints met up, the Saints set a record for most first downs in a game. Not so this go-around — Dallas manhandled New Orleans until deep in the fourth quarter, winning at home, 38-17.

Tony Romo had his best first half of the season, while Drew Brees was under constant pressure and Rob Ryan’s beleaguered defense couldn’t stop DeMarco Murray or Terrance Williams. That changed in the fourth quarter when the Saints forced Romo into poor throws, but New Orleans wasn’t able to capitalize and never pulled closer than 14 points.

The Chiefs picked up their first win of the season in Week 3, routing the Miami Dolphins on the road, 34-15. The win was even more impressive considering that it came with All-Pro running back Jamaal Charles and six other starters on the sideline with various injuries. Backup RB Knile Davis had a big game with a career-high 132 yards on 32 carries, while Joe McKnight had two touchdown catches.

After losing linebacker Bruce Carter to an injury on a big running play by running back Khiry Robinson, the Dallas defense had a much harder time defending Brees’ passing, enabling him to move laterally and make big passes in space. Brees went to tight ends Graham and Josh Hill in the fourth quarter, both for touchdowns to make the score 31-17. Receiver Dez Bryant scored late in the fourth quarter to finally put the game out of reach.

Manuel’s stat line was ugly — 21-for-44, 225 yards (80 on one play), two touchdowns and two interceptions. Buffalo had to rely on Manuel’s arm at the end of the game, and he proceed to throw an interception to during the Bills’ last-gasp drive. The Bills got off to a hot start this season because they were able to avoid need-to-throw situations. Unfortunately for them, they won’t get to play the Chicago Bears and Miami Dolphins every week.
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Kirk Cousins saved his best dad joke for when he got franchise tagged

There appears to be potential up front. The top three returning ends (Blain Padgett, Graysen Schantz, Brian Womac) combined for 19.5 tackles for loss and six sacks last year, and the top four returning tackles (Preston Gordon, Roe Wilkins, Carl Thompson, Zach Abercrumbia) combined for 12.5 and six, respectively. There isn’t enough size here — none of those ends are over 250 pounds, and only two of those tackles are over 280 — but the activity level could compensate.

Mario Lemieux Mens Jersey The biggest loss is probably McGaskey. He combined 11 tackles for loss with six passes defensed (a rare combination), and he was the only real play-maker in the back. Nickel back Destri White did have four tackles for loss, and three returnees had at least four passes defensed (four if you include sophomore Justin Bickham, who missed 2016), but there will need to be improvement there.
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Well, there will need to be improvement everywhere. Rice had the worst passing downs defense in the country even with a decent pass rush, and the Owls’ “strongest” primary rating was a No. 92 spot in Standard Downs S&P+. Even if the offense comes together, you don’t have a high ceiling with such a woeful defense. But we’ll see what better injuries luck can do.

Special teams made things neither better nor worse for Rice. The Owls were 87th in Special Teams S&P+ ranking between 54th and 96th in all five individual categories. The entire unit returns, so the extent that experience matters, it could boost the lineup a hair. But there probably won’t be significant shifts up or down here.

Kirk Cousins got slapped with the exclusive franchise tag on Tuesday, which ensures he remains with Washington ¡ª for now. Players react to the tag a great many ways. Some are angry and voice their displeasure, others act like it¡¯s no big deal. Cousins took a different route.

Tom Coughlin sounds noncommittal about giving Jaguars’ QB job to Blake Bortles

If Tom Coughlin is excited about the fact that Blake Bortles is Jacksonville’s starting quarterback, he definitely has an odd way of showing it.

During a news conference Friday, Coughlin was asked directly if he was “committed to [Bortles] as the starter,” and let’s just say he didn’t answer with a resounding yes.
“Well, there’s plenty of work for everybody to do, Blake included,” Coughlin said, via the Jaguars’ official website. “To raise the game to a higher level, it takes all components, though, as well. … People being in the right place at the right time, the timing, taking care of the football, which is paramount to that position.”
Bortles has been a turnover machine since 2014, when the Jaguars selected him with the third overall pick in the NFL Draft. Bortles has led the league in picks once (2015) and finished in the top four during his other two seasons.

Overall, Bortles has turned the ball over 63 times since his rookie year (51 interceptions, 12 lost fumbles), which leads the NFL over that span. The ugliest part about Bortles’ interception total is that it includes 11 pick-sixes, which means he’s basically giving free points to the opposition.
“There can be no way the ball is turned over to that extent,” Coughlin said. “I think he’d be the first one to say that he has a lot of work to do, but we all have a lot of work to do, so I’m going to put it that way.”

A source with extensive knowledge of the efforts to develop improved football technologies tells PFT that the question of where to place the chip also has vexed those trying to come up with a way to determine digitally the question of whether the ball crosses a boundary or breaks a plane.

“If we are counting on the chip to provide exact ball placement at the time the runner is ruled down that placement will oftentimes be inaccurate depending on how the ball is being carried,” the source explained. “Assume the chip is in the left tip of the ball and the runner has that end tucked in his elbow. When he’s ruled down it’s the opposite end that accurately places the ball.”

The task of remembering one¡¯s humanity is even more difficult in Cousins¡¯ case.

Game Brandon Thomas Jersey His apologists are fiercely loyal and his critics are relentlessly unforgiving. He¡¯s also much more than just his job. He didn¡¯t just pass through Sacramento, he became a pillar in the city. He matters to people.

Over the past six and a half years, Cousins has entrenched himself in the community. He¡¯s been praised on the floor of the House of Representatives for his charity work. He quietly paid the funeral costs of a slain high school football player. He donated $1 million to charity right after signing a contract extension. While he¡¯s temperamental on the court, he¡¯s by all accounts a generous pillar to Sacramento. He loves the city, and residents who come in direct contact with him return that passion.

That¡¯s why it¡¯s hard to watch him say goodbye to people who shouldn¡¯t matter to him, not with all of his money and fame. It¡¯s hard to see him on the verge of tears and not feel as if the sport is the smallest factor in this blockbuster trade.

Game Deion Jones Jersey What¡¯s their weakness? All four of their losses have come against stiff competition, and come March, that¡¯s all there is. Wichita State¡¯s success stems from their balanced offense. In this sense, their biggest strength is their biggest weakness. They rely on 10 players to contribute at least 13 minutes per game and about five points per game. When players one through 10 don¡¯t show up, they run into trouble. The constant in all four losses has been unbalanced point production. They can¡¯t afford to have any off days once the tournament rolls around.

Can get an at-large bid? Playing in the MVC, their best chance to make March Madness will be to win conference. Lunardi currently has Illinois State in his First Four Out. If the Redbirds win the conference, it would be up to the committee whether the rest of their schedule is enough to get the Shockers an at-large.

One reunion alley-oop can’t heal Westbrook-Durant split

Some 45 minutes before showtime, 11 Western Conference All-Stars warmed up on one end of the floor, while Russell Westbrook stood alone on the other side, shooting free throws.

Authentic Womens Karl Mecklenburg Jersey Westbrook has always despised crowds, deliberately standing in place to wait for media to move out of the way in scrums, or going out of his way to avoid any congestion with fans. He always shoots on his own basket — the same one, by himself — after practices and shootarounds at the Oklahoma City Thunder’s practice facility.

But with so much focus and attention on how Westbrook interacted with Kevin Durant as they reunited as teammates Sunday, it was a striking image. Eventually, a different former teammate, James Harden, joined Westbrook, and the two, who have spent most of the weekend together, warmed up, laughing, joking and gesturing throughout.
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For those tight ends who aren’t going to get drafted to be receivers, many NFL teams carry dedicated blockers, and that’s where strength comes in. There’s quite a bit to blocking, and although lower body strength and leverage are just as important as anything, how many reps a blocker can bench press is always worthwhile information for NFL scouts.

On Thursday, the tight ends assembled for the drill, and there were some impressive results. Many of the tight ends put up bigger numbers than the offensive linemen, though none of them managed to break 30, which multiple offensive linemen did. Louisville’s Gerald Christian recorded 28 reps, the most of any tight end, while Blake Bell of Oklahoma had just 14.

Maxx Williams of Minnesota and Clive Walford of Miami put up 17 and 20 reps, respectively. Those two are the consensus top tight ends coming out this year and those numbers are just about average for the position.

Draymond Green has a leg up on Defensive Player of Year award

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If the NBA season were to end at the All-Star break, Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green would be the favorite for his first Defensive Player of the Year award.

After promising anonymity, ESPN polled 80 media members who have postseason awards voting privileges. Every NBA market is represented. The league selects 130 media members to vote for its official postseason awards.

Even though our poll is 50 media members shy of the true figure, Green still holds a pretty decisive advantage. ESPN asked those 80 individuals to give their top three defensive player choices if the season were to conclude today, and 16 candidates were selected.

Using the NBA¡¯s point system of a first-place vote being multiplied by five, a second-place vote multiplied by three and a third-place vote multiplied by one, Green accumulated a total of 295 points.

Picollo’s mind still flashes back to September 2013, when the Royals summoned Ventura from their Triple-A Omaha farm club. Barely a week after Ventura’s arrival, the team held a banquet to honor its top minor leaguers, and Ventura texted Picollo and asked for permission to attend. A half-hour into the dinner, Picollo noticed Ventura paying close attention to Miguel Almonte, another top pitching prospect from the Dominican Republic.

Draymond Green could become the first Golden State Warrior to win the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year award.
He received 41 first-place votes, 28 second-place votes and six third-place votes.

Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert finished second with 193 points. He picked up 17 first-place votes, 31 second-place votes and 15 third-place votes.

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Andrés Iniesta’s struggles were the saddest part of Barcelona’s collapse against PSG

Paris Saint-Germain embarrassed Barcelona on Tuesday, 4-0. It seemed that every PSG player decided to play at their best in the same game that each Barcelona player, minus Marc-André ter Stegen, who tried his hardest to keep the scoreline respectable, and Neymar, who was a futile positive in the attack, was at their worst. There’s an abundance of disappointments in terms of players, some who can serve better as vehicles for the systematic failures of Barcelona this season than others. That’s you, André Gomes. You’re the hill that Luis Enrique wants to die on.

Gomes has played badly before. He’s tedious in movement, cowers under pressure and seems to always push the ball too far ahead of him, even with his long legs. Sergio Busquets had tough games in the first few months of the season, where he looked as he did now, like a store-brand version of the maestro that he is. Giving the ball away, late in tackles or otherwise a step too slow and overwhelmed by attacks. He’s already in the tasking position of killing attacks and counters before they start, in a Barcelona team that leaves him in a frightening amount of space, which makes the job more difficult than it already is, and his sense of timing and position more paramount. When he plays badly, it shows in the worst way possible, as it did against PSG.

For Syracuse, they used the press to rattle Virginia and cause uncharacteristic turnovers, but it took fearless and accurate shooting to quickly close the gap. Virginia Tech didn’t use the press, but they did start dictating their own offensive pace in the second half, and the points eventually followed.

Still, that oversimplifies it.

Pittsburgh is cruising to a spot in the dance and, despite how they played against the Lightning

Heck, go support the Rays. They¡¯ve done things in the off-season. Tickets are cheap and the building is air-conditioned.

Okay. So maybe you¡¯re not a baseball fan. Maybe you need hockey in your life. The next couple of months are a great time to figure out what team to root for in the postseason. It¡¯s okay. I¡¯ve checked the fan guidelines and it is perfectly acceptable to root for another team once yours has been eliminated from the playoffs.

Do you want to root for a former coach? Great, you have two choices right now. John Tortorella is leading a Columbus team that is defying expectations. Guy Boucher is doing the same in Ottawa.

Are you a fan of young, exciting players that are helping their teams break long playoff droughts? Again, you¡¯re in luck. Toronto and Edmonton are full of young guys (and Kris Russell) who are fun to watch on the ice.

Proven winners? Pittsburgh is cruising to a spot in the dance and, despite how they played against the Lightning, the Blackhawks should make it as well.

Limited Womens Paul Martin Jersey It¡¯s also probably fair to wonder how much more Pokka can really learn in Rockford. It¡¯s his third full season there since being acquired in the Nick Leddy trade, and he¡¯ll turn 23 years old in June. The Blackhawks will need to figure out exactly what they have in Pokka sooner than later, whether it¡¯s as an NHL player or as a trade chip.
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He¡¯s still a skilled, almost NHL-ready defenseman, though, which is valuable in a league that places a premium on good, cheap blue liners.

The Blackhawks tried to sign Hayden in the summer, but he opted to return to Yale for his senior year as team captain. He has no regrets so far, as he¡¯s continued elevating his game for the Bulldogs. His production has steadily risen over his four college seasons, and he¡¯s now third in college hockey in goals per game.