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CHICAGO — The Chicago Blackhawks will return to action after a five-day break to host the New York Islanders on Saturday night at the United Center.

Chicago (22-17-6) sputtered into its bye week with two losses in its past three games. The Blackhawks regrouped Friday with an afternoon practice and hope fresh legs and clear minds can rejuvenate the team.

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Article continues below ... New York (23-20-4) has lost back-to-back games after winning the previous three in a row. The Islanders favor an up-tempo playing style, as evidenced by their 161 goals scored (second-most in the NHL) and 173 goals allowed (most in NHL).

The Blackhawks remain without No. 1 goaltender Corey Crawford, who is suffering from vertigo-like symptoms, according to a report in the Chicago Sun-Times. Minus Crawford [url=http://www.dolphinsauthorizedshops.com/authentic-customized]Authentic Customized Dolphins Jerseys[/url] , Chicago has alternated between Anton Forsberg and Jeff Glass in net.

Forsberg is 3-6-3 with a 2.92 goals-against average and a .911 save percentage this season. He is 0-2-0 with an unsightly 5.10 GAA and .872 save percentage in his career against the Islanders.

Glass is 3-2-1 with a 3.18 GAA and .910 save percentage. He never has faced New York.

Islanders goaltender Jaroslav Halak is expected to make his 29th start of the season. He is 13-14-2 with a 3.25 GAA and .905 save percentage. In 12 career games against the Blackhawks, he boasts a 7-1-3 record with a 2.06 GAA and a .930 save percentage.

Halak’s backup, Thomas Greiss, is 10-6-2 with a 3.89 GAA and .886 save percentage. In four career appearances against Chicago, he is 0-1-2 with a 3.50 GAA and .891 save percentage.

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The Islanders recalled forward Ross Johnston from the AHL on Friday. Neither Shane Prince (lower body) nor Andrew Ladd (upper body) will make the trip to Chicago. Meanwhile, Johnny Boychuk (lower body) and Casey Cizikas (upper body) are getting closer to returning but not ready yet.

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Former company President Mark Hazelwood and former account representative Heather Jones were found guilty of conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud, news outlets reported.

Former company Vice President Scott ”Scooter” Wombold was convicted of one count of wire fraud. But he and former account representative Karen Mann were found not guilty of conspiracy.

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The verdict followed about four days of deliberations in U.S. District Court in Chattanooga, where the trial has been going on since November.

Hazelwood was also convicted of wire fraud and witness tampering and found not guilty of one count of wire fraud. Wombold was also found not guilty of two counts of wire fraud and three counts of making false statements to federal agents. Jones was found not guilty of four counts of wire fraud.

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Collier then gave them an instruction designed to prompt jurors to re-examine their individual votes and try one more time for a unanimous decision.

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TAMPA [url=http://www.falconscheapstore.com/customized-cheap]Cheap Customized Atlanta Falcons Jerseys[/url] , Fla. — The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, woefully deficient away from home this season, already were facing a stiff challenge heading into Sunday’s game against the Buffalo Bills at New Era Field. Now they might be forced to play without quarterback Jameis Winston.

The Buccaneers (2-3) lost Winston to a sprained shoulder joint in a 38-33 loss against the Arizona Cardinals, when they fell behind 31-0 early in the third quarter. Bucs coach Dirk Koetter has not ruled out Winston as Sunday’s starter, but the third-year player has been limited at practice, leaving most of the work for veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick, who has made 116 NFL starts.

The Bills (3-2), whose hold on first place in the AFC East slipped away during their bye week, said they are preparing for both quarterbacks.

Article continues below ... “Jameis can make things happen with his arm and feet and Fitzpatrick, we’ve seen him before and know what he can do,” Bills linebacker Preston Brown said. “No matter who’s out there [url=http://www.dolphinsfootballauthentic.com/hats-authentic]Youth Miami Dolphins Hats[/url] , we have to be prepared and come in with a good game plan.”

Fitzpatrick passed for 290 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions after Winston departed with his injury against the Cardinals. Winston has made 37 consecutive starts for Tampa Bay since becoming the NFL draft’s No. 1 overall selection in 2015.

“The way I understand it, he (Winston) will be medically cleared to play,” Koetter said. “I know Jameis can handle a lot of pain. I think it will be, ‘Does Jameis feel like he can play at the level he needs to play at?’ The No. 1 thing in all of this is that Jameis’ long-term health has to be the No. 1 thing.”

Even if Winston isn’t the starter, it’s possible that the Bucs might roll the dice and feel confident with him as the backup. Ryan Griffin, injured in the preseason, isn’t eligible for a return until Week 9 and the Bucs didn’t immediately move to sign another quarterback.

Fitzpatrick has played for six other NFL teams, including the Bills from 2009-12, where he went 20-33 as a starter.

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But not good enough.

Koetter already was concerned with Tampa Bay’s road performance in Week 2, when the Bucs fell behind 28-3 in the third quarter en route to a 34-17 defeat at Minnesota. The first-half effort at Arizona was similarly dismal.

What would Koetter have done differently?

“Miss the plane,” he said in a non-smiling attempt at humor. “We did things that bad football teams do. Right now, we’re a bad football team.

“The lesson is we’ve got to start faster. We’ve turned into this team that looks like gangbusters in the fourth quarter, but does not look like gangbusters in the first quarter. It’s a four-quarter game. We’ve got to start faster.”

Tampa Bay’s defense will regain linebacker Kwon Alexander, who missed the past four games with a hamstring injury. Including a four-game suspension at the end of his rookie season in 2015, the Bucs are 1-7 without Alexander in the lineup.

Alexander’s return will bring Tampa Bay’s linebacker corps back to full strength. Lavonte David, who had missed two games with a sprained ankle, returned a fumble 21 yards for a touchdown against the Cardinals.

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Bills first-year coach Sean McDermott acknowledged his team’s strides, but said more work must be done.

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McDermott said he’d like to see more productivity from the running game, which is averaging only 3.4 yards per carry. LeSean McCoy (279 yards) is averaging only 3.2 yards per carry and hasn’t scored a touchdown.

“We need to move the chains and score,” McCoy said. “It’s time to get this thing going. It’s time to get myself going.”

Quarterback Tyrod Taylor, who has averaged 570 yards rushing in the past two seasons, has only 121 this season. Taylor has completed 62.5 percent of his passes for six touchdowns and two interceptions.

“Tyrod has had some very good days and playoff caliber moments,” McDermott said. “You want to see the offense move and grow as the season goes on. The most important thing to me is … that we are an effective offense that can move the ball. That’s all I care about. Whatever it takes, whether it’s the run or the pass, you have to be able to move the ball down the field in some way [url=http://www.chargerscheapstore.com/customized-cheap]Cheap Customized Los Angeles Chargers Jerseys[/url] , shape or form.”

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Regardless of the opposing quarterback, McDermott said the Bills are facing a difficult test.

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BALTIMORE (AP) On a day when he set a team record with 20 straight completions [url=http://www.packerscheapstore.com/jk-scott-jersey-cheap]JK Scott Jersey Packers[/url] , Matthew Stafford had nothing to show for it. Except a bruised and bandaged right hand and a lamentable defeat.

Stafford put on a quite a show against the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday in an effort to lead the Detroit Lions back from a 20-0 halftime deficit. Tossing one successful pass after another, the Detroit quarterback twice cut the margin to seven points.

But he couldn’t complete the comeback, and the Lions absorbed a 44-20 defeat – their most lopsided loss of the season.

Article continues below ... ”Guys stepped up and made some great catches,” Stafford said. ”Obviously, we just didn’t do enough of it to get it done.”

His streak of 20 straight completions ended with a fourth-quarter interception by Marlon Humphrey. The previous mark was 13, set by Stafford last season in a game against New Orleans.

Surely, the record would have meant a lot more to Stafford if it came in a victory.

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”I couldn’t really feel it too well, to tell you the truth,” he said. ”I had some burning nerve pain in there, so I didn’t know what it was going to be. But X-rays were negative.”

Though Stafford went 24 for 29 for 292 yards and a score, he also had that interception and lost the ball on a strip-sack. The fumble was particularly galling because it put Detroit in a gaping 17-0 hole.

”That’s on me. I got to make sure I do a good job of getting the ball out of my hands,” Stafford said. ”They had nobody covering Golden Tate, so I think they may have miscommunicated on their defense [url=http://www.texanscheapstore.com/martinas-rankin-jersey-cheap]Martinas Rankin Jersey Texans[/url] , too. The look I was getting, I didn’t think I could get what I got.”

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Regardless, the Lions (6-6) have dropped two straight and probably have to win out to have a shot at reaching the playoffs.

”Obviously, we need to do great from here on out to give ourselves a chance,” tight end Michael Roberts said.

Stafford had a couple of turnovers, but he certainly wasn’t the only one to have a bad day. Backup Jake Rudock threw a pick-6, Matt Prater missed two kicks [url=http://www.bengalscheapstore.com/cordy-glenn-jersey-cheap]Cordy Glenn Jersey Bengals[/url] , and the Lions gave up 370 yards to the league’s 31st-ranked offense.

”Wasn’t pretty. I can tell you I didn’t do a very good job,” coach Jim Caldwell said. ”We just didn’t go a good job: missed field goal, a couple drops here.”

With Stafford leading the way, the Lions closed to 20-13 in the third quarter and were at 27-20 with 10:20 left.

”We fought our way back in it. Third quarter was a pretty hot quarter for us,” Caldwell said.

Over the final 13 minutes, however, Baltimore put up 24 points.

”We’ve got to get this together [url=http://www.raidersfootballauthentics.com/p.j.-hall-jersey-authentic]Youth P.J. Hall Jersey[/url] ,” Tate said. ”There have been crazier things have happened, but we’ve got to get this thing popping.”

More AP NFL: http://pro32.ap.org and https://twitter.com/AP-NFL

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The rest of the Capitals joined him for a team photo after beating the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-0 on Wednesday night in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference final, a victory that sent Washington to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in 20 years.

A decade of playoff frustration is fading fast.

Article continues below ... ”I think Ovie has been on a mission,” Capitals coach Barry Trotz said. ”They wanted this game, no question.”

Ovechkin scored early and Andre Burakovsky added two second-period goals as the Caps continued to shed a label as postseason underachievers.

Braden Holtby stopped 29 shots for his second straight shutout and the Lightning, who led the NHL in goals during the regular season, failed to score in the last 159 minutes, 27 seconds of the series – a stretch of nearly eight periods.

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”The first goal was very important,” Ovechkin said. ”After that you could see we have all the momentum on our side. Holts was unstoppable today. He was special. Everybody was all in. Everybody was sacrificing their bodies. I think we all deserve the win.”

To earn a spot in the Stanley Cup Final, where they’ll play the Vegas Golden Knights, the Capitals beat the top-seeded Lightning three times on the road, improving to 8-2 away from home this postseason.

It’s Washington’s first Cup Final appearance since 1998, and the first during Ovechkin’s 13-year career.

”We played a great game,” defenseman John Carlson said. ”We deserved to win this.”

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The winger, who played two games in the first round against Columbus before sitting out 10 straight with an upper-body injury, added a breakaway goal to make it 3-0 heading into the last period.

Nicklas Backstrom had an empty-netter to complete the rout.

”What a game. What an experience. We had a lot of guys pitching in,” winger T.J. Oshie said. ”The biggest guy of all had to be Holts. He played fantastic, back to back shutouts.”

Tampa Bay, which rebounded from losing the first two games at home to win three straight for a 3-2 series lead, had plenty of chances. A couple of shots clanged off the post, Yanni Gourde was unable to get his stick on a loose puck in front on an empty net and the game gradually slipped away.

Washington was the more physical team in evening the series with a bruising 3-0 victory in Game 6. They played with urgency from the start again Wednesday night and never let up.

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”We’re here to win as team, no matter who gets the credit,” said Holtby, the fifth goalie to deliver a Game 7 shutout to clinch a spot in the Stanley Cup Final.

”I felt we could have won every game,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. ”We ran into a tough Washington team that was probably feeling the same thing, and once you get this far you’ve probably done some magical things on the way.”

It was the 33rd time in league history that a Game 7 was required to determine a Stanley Cup finalist. Home teams are 21-12 in those games.

Tampa Bay also played Game 7 in the Eastern Conference final in 2015, when they blanked the New York Rangers, and again two years ago [url=http://www.ravenscheapstores.com/kenny-young-jersey-cheap]Kenny Young Jersey Ravens[/url] , when they lost 2-1 to Pittsburgh.

Both of those deciding games were on the road. The Lightning had never lost a Game 7 at home before Wednesday night.

”It’s going to take a few days to digest this. It’s tough to sit here right now and think of positive things and how it was a pretty great season,” Lightning captain Steven Stamkos said. ”It doesn’t seem that way when you have this group – and we’ve been to this position before – and you can’t find a way to give yourself a chance a win. We thought we had that group. It’s just an empty feeling right now.”

Notes: Ovechkin and Backstrom made their 11th career Game 7 appearance, one shy of Boston’s Zdeno Chara for the most among active NHL players. In addition to Chara, only five other players in NHL history have appeared in more Game 7s: Patrick Roy (13), Scott Stevens (13), Glenn Anderson (12), Ken Daneyko (12) and Stephane Yelle (12). … Evgeny Kuznetsov’s assist on Ovechkin’s early goal extended his points streak to 10 games. … Vasilevskiy made 19 saves. The Lightning outshot the Capitals (29-23) for the first time in the series.

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Aaron Rodgers could only watch from the sideline.

Stafford passed for 361 yards and two touchdowns to Marvin Jones, and the Lions snapped a three-game losing streak with a 30-17 win on Monday night over the offensively challenged Green Bay Packers.

Article continues below ... ”Matt (made) some great throws … I just did what I love to do – go out there and get them,” Jones said.

Stafford was 26 of 33, including 12 of 14 in the first half with a 25-yard touchdown pass to Jones. Ameer Abdullah added a 4-yard touchdown run for Detroit (4-4).

Green Bay (4-4) finally got in the end zone on Brett Hundley’s 1-yard quarterback sneak with 9:52 left.

The Lions answered with Stafford’s 11-yard touchdown pass to Jones with 8:06 remaining, putting the game out of reach with a 17-point lead. Jones had seven catches for 107 yards.

The Packers have lost three straight games. Their once-potent offense has struggled since Rodgers broke his right collarbone on Oct. 15 at Minnesota.

Hundley finished 26 of 38 for 245 yards. Cornerback Darius Slay blanketed Jordy Nelson when the Packers did try to throw long while the game was still competitive.

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Abdullah fumbled the ball away in the third quarter, but the Packers went three-and-out on the ensuing drive. Familiar problems in the red zone popped up for the Lions when they were stopped on three plays at the Packers 1, forced to settle for a field goal for a 17-point lead with 12:25 left.

But without Rodgers, the Packers couldn’t keep up with the accurate, rocket-armed Stafford.

”I believe in Brett [url=http://www.authenticsbaltimoreravens.com]Ravens Elite Jerseys[/url] , that’s not just a press conference statement,” coach Mike McCarthy said about Hundley.

THIRD DOWNS

The Lions were 8 of 13 on third-down conversions, with Stafford burning the Packers with clutch throws. The Packers were just 2 of 9 on third downs and failed to convert both of their fourth-down chances.

”They controlled the third-down battle tonight,” McCarthy said. ”We have work to do. That’s the fact of the matter and we have to do it fast.”

CRITICAL PENALTY

The Lions’ opening score was set up by an unnecessary roughness penalty on Mike Daniels, after the defensive lineman appeared to head-butt Detroit center Travis Swanson. The flag negated an incompletion on third-and-15 that would have forced the Lions to punt from their own 25. Stafford connected with Jones for the touchdown pass five plays later.

MILESTONE

The first scoring strike to Jones was the 200th touchdown pass in 117 career games for Stafford [url=http://www.eaglescheapshop.com]Eagles Cheap Jerseys[/url] , the sixth-quickest in NFL history to reach the milestone. Stafford, who turns 30 in February, is also fourth in NFL history for career touchdown passes before age 30 behind Dan Marino, Peyton Manning and Brett Favre.

NOT SPECIAL

Special teams didn’t help the Packers.

Working in their third long snapper of the season because of injuries, Green Bay had a 38-yard field goal blocked in the first quarter on a play that started with a low snap. Trevor Davis didn’t get past the 22 on three kickoff returns in the first half.

STAT LINES:

Lions: WR Golden Tate joined Jones over the 100-yard mark with seven receptions for 113 yards. … Abdullah had 21 carries for 48 yards.

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”This game they were giving us the underneath stuff,” Hundley said. ”You have to take what’s given.”

INJURIES

Packers S Morgan Burnett left in the third quarter with a groin injury. He had returned from a two-game absence for a hamstring injury. RT Bryan Bulaga left in the fourth quarter with a knee injury.

ANTHEM

It appeared that all members of both teams stood for the national anthem, with many players and coaches locking arms on their respective sidelines.

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UP NEXT

Lions: Host the Cleveland Browns on Sunday.

Packers: Visit the Chicago Bears on Sunday.

For more NFL coverage: http://www.pro32.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP-NFL

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The Raptors, with six players scoring in double figures Saturday, took the opener of the best-of-seven series 114-106, led by 23 points and 12 rebounds from Serge Ibaka.

The teams play Game 2 on Tuesday night at the Air Canada Centre.

“I think their bench was great, especially (Delon Wright) and C.J Miles,” said Wizards guard John Wall, who had 23 points and 15 assists. “They played well, made some big shots for them, and that’s what they are going to do every game. We’ve got to make adjustments.”

Wright scored 18 points (11 in the fourth quarter) and Miles had 12 from a Raptors bench that did not have its leader, guard Fred VanVleet, who was out with a shoulder injury and is questionable for Game 2.

It meant starting point guard Kyle Lowry also played some time with the second unit and had 11 points and nine assists in 38 minutes.

Toronto’s bench outscored Washington’s 42-21.

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The Raptors shot 53.3 percent (16 of 30) from 3-point range, including 69.2 percent (9 of 13) in the second half. The 16 made 3-pointers were a franchise playoff record. The Wizards shot 38.1 percent (8 of 21) from beyond the arc.

Miles led the Raptors with four 3-pointers off the bench.

“We were prepared, we knew they were going to try and take out Kyle (Lowry) and DeMar (DeRozan), they had 15 or 16 assists between them, so we were prepared for that,” Raptors coach Dwane Casey said. “Other than that [url=http://www.packersfootballauthentic.com/josh-jackson-jersey-authentic]Youth Josh Jackson Jersey[/url] , we just tried to find energy, speed and quickness to match theirs.

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The teams split four games in the regular season, but the Wizards played those games without an injured Wall. The series is a matchup of two All-Star guard tandems in Toronto’s Lowry and DeRozan and Washington’s Wall and Beal. The Wizards must find a way to compensate for Toronto’s advantage in depth.

“They are the No. 1 seed for a reason. They have a lot of good players,” Wizards coach Scott Brooks said. “Guys off the bench came in and stepped up. VanVleet did not play (Saturday), but Wright came in and had a terrific game. That’s why they are hard to guard.

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Toronto is now 2-12 in the opening game of a playoff series.

“Whatever it was that first game was about hopefully we got it off our back,” Casey said. “We’re not satisfied; we’re in this for the long run. We know we’re in a tough series against a very athletic, fast team.”

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The winner Wednesday night earns a berth in the Stanley Cup Final opposite the Vegas Golden Knights, who will try for hockey’s biggest prize in their inaugural season.

Ovechkin and the Caps are hoping to shed a label as playoff underachievers, a franchise that dazzles during the regular season only to disappoint at the most important time of the year.

”I’m excited. We’re all excited. … We all want to be in this position and move forward,” said Ovechkin, who is playing in the conference final for the first time during his prolific 13-year career.

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Tampa Bay is playing Game 7 in the conference final for the third time in four years. It beat the New York Rangers on the road to advance to the 2015 Cup Final, but fell short the following year against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

”Experience is always a good thing, but it’s nothing I’m going to sit and lean on,” said Tampa Bay defenseman Anton Stralman, who is 7-1 in Game 7s during his career. ”It’s about doing your job at the highest level you possibly can.”

Washington forced Wednesday’s winner-take-all matchup with a dominating 3-0 victory in Game 6.

In a series where home ice has not been a clear advantage, the Lightning are hoping it provides an edge in Game 7.

Washington won Games 1 and 2 in Tampa, then dropped the next two at home. The Capitals are 7-2 on the road this postseason.

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Capitals coach Barry Trotz said after Monday night’s win in Washington that there’s no other team he has coached that he would rather lead into a seventh game.

”We just keep taking whatever challenge is thrown at us and build off it. This group doesn’t waver. It has a spirit about it, a strong spirit,” he said.

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And while that undoubtedly would be a major breakthrough for Ovechkin, Trotz reiterated the Capitals all have a lot invested.

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SAN FRANCISCO — The Miami Marlins will seek to continue to work their late-game magic against the San Francisco Giants when the teams meet for the second time in a three-game series Tuesday night.

Miguel Rojas capped a three-run rally in the ninth inning Monday [url=http://www.eaglesfootballauthentics.com/markus-wheaton-jersey-authentic]Youth Markus Wheaton Jersey[/url] , allowing the Marlins to overcome a 4-2 deficit and beat the Giants for the fourth time in five games over the past eight days.

All four wins have come in come-from-behind fashion.

Monday’s thriller could have a carryover effect on the rest of the series as Giants closer Hunter Strickland and Marlins outfielder Lewis Brinson, one of the heroes of the ninth-inning rally, exchanged words after the Marlins had taken the lead.

Brinson also had a hand in one of Miami’s rallies last week, smacking a game-tying hit off Madison Bumgarner in last Monday’s 7-5 win.

The Giants did not appreciate the way Brinson celebrated the hit, and it was no surprise when Strickland’s first pitch to him in the ninth this time around was under his chin.

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Brinson reached third on Rojas’ tie-breaking hit, after which Strickland was removed from the game, exiting the field toward the third base dugout and within 15 feet of Brinson.

The two then exchanged words again, setting the stage another possible encounter before the end of the series.

It was Strickland’s fourth blown save of the season [url=http://www.chiefsfootballauthentic.com]Kansas City Chiefs Jerseys Womens[/url] , but just the Giants first loss this season in a game in which it led going into the ninth inning. They’d been 31-0.

Afterward, Giants manager Bruce Bochy credited for Marlins for once again not going down without a fight.

“We’ve had the lead; we’ve got to finish it,” he said. “They keep themselves in the ballgame. Keep it close and anything can happen.”

Monday’s 5-4 outcome was identical to last week’s 5-4 Marlins win on Wednesday, a game also started by left-handers Caleb Smith of the Marlins and Andrew Suarez of the Giants.

Tuesday’s second game of the series also will feature a pitching rematch, with right-handers Dan Straily (2-2 [url=http://www.dolphinscheapstore.com/jerome-baker-jersey-cheap]Jerome Baker Jersey Dolphins[/url] , 4.23) of the Marlins and Dereck Rodriguez (1-1, 4.34) of the Giants going head-to-head for the second time in six days.

The Giants prevailed the first time around last Thursday despite blowing an early 3-0 lead. They needed 16 innings to win 6-3.

[img]http://www.sndpic.com//nike_nfl_jerseys/nike_oakland_raiders/nike_raiders_3610.jpg[/img] Rodriguez worked 6 2/3 innings in the win, allowing two runs and seven hits. It was just the third start and fourth big-league appearance of his career.

He’ll take an 0-0 and 2.70 ERA against the Marlins into the game.

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The 29-year-old has never lost to the Giants, going 4-0 with a 2.82 ERA in six career starts. He’s 2-0 with a 1.13 ERA in two starts in San Francisco.

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Nikola Jokic and Will Barton grew up worlds apart.

Their paths [url=http://www.authenticshoustontexans.com]Texans Elite Jerseys[/url] , though, followed a similar route to a big payday with the Denver Nuggets. Jokic signed a max contract worth around $147 million for five seasons, and Barton returned on a four-year deal that could earn him more than $50 million.

As bench players a few years ago, Barton made a comment that stuck with his center.

”He called us Kobe and Shaq,” Jokic recounted Monday at a news conference for the pair. ”We kind of grew together.”

Bonded by similar roads.

From Serbia, Jokic was a second-round pick by Denver in 2014 (41st overall) – a 6-foot-10 project who needed to lose about 30 pounds. He did and has blossomed into one of the top big men in the league.

From Baltimore, Barton was a second-round pick by Portland in 2012 (40th overall) – a sharp-shooter buried on the Blazers’ bench and just needing a chance. He got one when Denver traded for him and became a versatile reserve player/occasional starter.

”I don’t think we are a team that can follow other archetypes in how teams are built,” Nuggets president of basketball operations Tim Connelly explained. ”We have to find and develop guys. We have to find and develop guys who want to be here long term.”

Jokic is an unassuming star in the making. His 10 triple-doubles last season were the most in a single season for a Nuggets player since Fat Lever in 1987-88. In addition, Jokic is the fifth player in NBA history with 3 [url=http://www.jaguarscheapstore.com/logan-cooke-jersey-cheap]Logan Cooke Jersey Jaguars[/url] ,000 or more points, 2,000 rebounds and 1,000 assists in their first three seasons, joining names such as Oscar Robertson, Larry Bird, Maurice Stokes and Sidney Wicks.

”To see how quickly he’s made the jump and how comfortable he is producing against the elite of the league, it’s something I’ve never seen,” Connelly said. ”He’s one of the best players in the NBA.”

The spotlight really isn’t his thing. He’d much rather be back home in Serbia this time of year [url=http://www.authenticsneworleanssaints.com]Saints Elite Jerseys[/url] , where his routine goes something like this: Work out, lunch, go to the stables to check on his two horses and then work out some more. He doesn’t like the attention.

”He’s got this huge contract and life-changing money and everything, but he’s going to still be with his horses, still wear sweat pants, even though we tell him to wear a button-up shirt,” cracked his brother, Nemanja. ”He feels comfortable. I don’t think anything is going to change about it.”

It won’t. Connelly and Barton were recently talking about that very subject.

”I’ve never seen a guy less enthused about a contract this big – and I say that in a positive sense,” Connelly said.

Jokic even said as much with Josh Kroenke [url=http://www.patriotsfootballauthentic.com/trent-brown-jersey-authentic]Youth Trent Brown Jersey[/url] , the vice chairman of Kroenke Sports and Entertainment, flanked to his right.

”When I was younger, my dream was not to sign a big contract. My dream was to have fun and win big games, some championships,” Jokic said. ”Winning is the most important thing.”

The Nuggets are coming off a season in which they won 46 games, but the season came down to a winner-take-all scenario in Minnesota, where the Nuggets came up short in overtime to miss out on the playoffs. Jokic is trying to help the Nuggets reach the postseason for the first time since 2012-13 – an even more difficult task with LeBron James joining the Los Angeles Lakers.

”We’re not too worried about what anybody else is doing,” Kroenke said. ”We’re worried about what we’re doing and our process of winning. We started to hit on a few of those things last couple of years. A very underrated aspect of sports is continuity. These guys having played for several years now, that’s only going to benefit us.”

[img]http://www.sndpic.com//nike_nfl_jerseys/nike_oakland_raiders/nike_raiders_3610.jpg[/img] Especially the bond between Jokic and Barton [url=http://www.raidersfootballauthentics.com/nick-nelson-jersey-authentic]Youth Nick Nelson Jersey[/url] , who was acquired in a trade with Portland on Feb. 19, 2015. Barton averaged 15.7 points, five rebounds and 4.1 assists as he alternated between coming off the bench and being a starter.

A big reason he elected to stay in Denver was coach Michael Malone not trying to rein him in.

”Coach Malone lets me be me as a player,” Barton said. ”The style of play I have, a lot of coaches are scared of that, and they won’t let me be me. Coach Malone never boxed me in.

”I knew this is where I wanted to be.”

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It was just what Jon Lester needed.

The four-time All-Star won his fifth straight start, Javier Baez backed him with three hits and two runs, and the Cubs beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 4-0 on Wednesday.

”That’s what we’re capable of doing,” manager Joe Maddon said. ”In the past when we’ve won at a high level, we’ve played outstanding defense. It never gets old. It never gets old to watch that kind of baseball.”

Lester (9-2) gave up five hits over seven innings, though he didn’t have his usual pinpoint command.

Baez had two doubles and a triple for a career-high three extra-base hits. He also stole a base and made some big plays at shortstop and second.

Kyle Schwarber hit his 14th homer. Kris Bryant added two hits and an RBI in his third straight game batting leadoff. And the Cubs handed Ross Stripling his first loss since April 30, taking two of three in a rematch of the past two NL Championship Series.

”We’ll be somewhere (in the playoffs) in October [url=http://www.billscheapshop.com]Bills Cheap Jerseys[/url] ,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. ”I can’t speak to the opponent, but we’ll be somewhere.”

Lester walked three and struck out one batter. Anthony Bass worked the final two innings to finish the six-hitter.

”I really didn’t have much today,” Lester said. ”I was kind of grinding through that one.”

But he didn’t need his best stuff with the defense coming through in a big way.

Baez made a strong throw from deep in the hole at shortstop in the second inning to rob Logan Forsythe of a hit and had fans chanting his name in the eighth after a neat double play as the second baseman. He caught Justin Turner’s line drive and lunged to the bag to double off a diving Enrique Hernandez.

Right fielder Jason Heyward threw out Chris Taylor trying to score on Turner’s fly in the third.

Center fielder Albert Almora raced in for a diving grab on Yasiel Puig’s liner in the seventh. And the Cubs caught several balls on the warning track while winning for the 17th time in 25 games.

”Al comes in, dives for one and I’m just like, `OK, I’m done clapping for you guys,” Lester said. ”It’s expected now that these guys can make these plays.”

Stripling (6-2) had won six straight starts. The right-hander went six innings [url=http://www.billscheapstore.com/phillip-gaines-jersey-cheap]Phillip Gaines Jersey Bills[/url] , allowing three runs and eight hits while striking out seven without a walk. But the Dodgers dropped back-to-back games for the first time since they lost a season-high six in a row May 10-16.

STINGY STARTS

Cubs starters have allowed one run or less in seven straight home games, matching Chicago’s longest streak since May 11-June 7, 1919, according to STATS.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Dodgers: SS Taylor exited with a tight left hamstring in the sixth. He said it started bothering him running the bases in the third, and he expects to be available Friday, when the Dodgers open a three-game series at the New York Mets. … INF Chase Utley (sprained left thumb) was ready to return from the disabled list. But the Dodgers decided to wait until Friday to activate him. ”Kind of where we’re at with the pitching,” Roberts said. ”He’s healthy and ready to go with us [url=http://www.cardinalsfootballauthentics.com/christian-kirk-jersey-authentic]Youth Christian Kirk Jersey[/url] , but having some option-able players on the roster makes a lot of sense for us. Playing a doubleheader, three games in 24 hours, we’ve got to kind of see how things play out and give ourselves some options.”

Cubs: The Cubs placed closer Brandon Morrow (lower back tightness) on the 10-day disabled list. … RHP Yu Darvish (right triceps tendinitis) threw a simulated game. Maddon said he looked ”outstanding,” and the Cubs will see how he feels Thursday before announcing the next step as he works his way back. … Maddon also said the Cubs are ”very close” to mapping out a plan for Carl Edwards Jr. (right shoulder inflammation) to return from the DL.

UP NEXT

Dodgers: LHP Alex Wood (2-5, 4.22 ERA) tries to win his second straight start as the Dodgers open a three-game series against the Mets on Friday. RHP Zack Wheeler (2-5, 4.82) pitches for New York. [img]http://www.sndpic.com//nike_nfl_jerseys/nike_carolina_panthers/nike_panthers_593.jpg[/img] Cubs: The Cubs open a four-game series at Cincinnati on Thursday, with RHP Kyle Hendricks (5-6 [url=http://www.ravensfootballauthentics.com/anthony-averett-jersey-authentic]Youth Anthony Averett Jersey[/url] , 3.55) going against RHP Matt Harvey (1-5, 5.92)

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Carpenter hit a tiebreaking solo homer with two out in the ninth, helping the St. Louis Cardinals edge the Philadelphia Phillies 7-6 on Tuesday night.

Carpenter also had a tying two-run double in St. Louis’ four-run seventh. Tommy Pham homered and singled for the Cardinals, and Kolten Wong also went deep.

Odubel Herrera and Carlos Santana connected for the Phillies.

Seranthony Dominguez (1-1) struck out the first two batters in the ninth and had Carpenter in a 0-2 hole. But Carpenter lined the next pitch, a 98-mph fastball, over the wall in right to extend his homer streak to three games.

Carpenter noticed Dominguez shake off catcher Jorge Alfaro just before the 0-2 pitch and believed the right-hander wanted to throw a fastball.

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A hard-throwing rookie, Dominguez began his career by tossing 15 2/3 scoreless innings and entered with 27 strikeouts and a 1.27 ERA in 21 1/3 innings.

”You have to step in the box ready to go,” Carpenter said.

Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said Dominguez’s pace actually helped Carpenter.

”You’ve got a guy with that live of an arm, you just need to get the barrel to it,” Matheny said. ”It was a nice swing path.”

The Cardinals trailed 4-2 before rallying against Vince Velasquez and Tommy Hunter.

Velasquez got the first out of the seventh before a single and hit batsman brought manager Gabe Kapler to the mound. Hunter got pinch-hitter Greg Garcia to line out to left before Carpenter doubled, Pham singled and Jose Martinez made it 6-4 with another two-run double.

The Phillies tied it in the eighth on Rhys Hoskins‘ two-run double. Austin Gomber started the inning [url=http://www.lionscheapstore.com/sylvester-williams-jersey-cheap]Sylvester Williams Jersey Lions[/url] , but was lifted for Jordan Hicks (3-1) with two out and runners on first and second. Three of Hicks’ four pitches to Hoskins were fastballs that registered at least 100 mph, but the slugger drove the final 101-mph heater into the gap in right-center.

Hicks pitched a perfect ninth, striking out two, to secure the victory.

”Frustrating game to lose, obviously,” Kapler said.

The Phillies opened the scoring with Santana’s RBI groundout in the first. Pham extended his career-best hitting streak to 13 games with a two-out homer to deep left in the third [url=http://www.buccaneerscheapstore.com/vita-vea-jersey-cheap]Vita Vea Jersey Buccaneers[/url] , tying it at 1.

Herrera continued his hot hitting against St. Louis by driving the first pitch he saw in the third, a 79-mph curveball, into the seats in right for a 2-1 Phillies lead.

Cesar Hernandez’s bases-loaded walk in the fourth made it 3-1, but Philadelphia wasted a chance for more when Luke Weaver got Hoskins to pop out to shortstop before fanning Herrera to leave the bases full.

BAD BREAK

The Phillies also lost infielder J.P. Crawford for four to six weeks when he was hit by a Weaver pitch in the fourth, fracturing his left hand.

”It’s really tough,” Kapler said. ”I feel for him the man. I feel for him the player.”

ROAD RAKING

Carpenter has hits in 12 straight road games and is batting .412 with six homers and 11 RBIs over that streak.

FOR STARTERS

The Cardinals’ rally took Weaver off the hook. Weaver was in line for his fifth straight loss when he left after permitting four runs and six hits in five innings.

Velasquez was charged with four runs and four hits in 6 1/3 innings. He struck out eight and walked three.

CRAZY ABOUT CARDS

Herrera is batting .360 with five homers and 21 RBIs in 25 career games against the Cardinals.

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Cardinals: RHP Matt Bowman (blister right hand) was placed on the 10-day disabled list and replaced by RHP Greg Holland. Holland pitched a perfect seventh with a pair of strikeouts.

Phillies: OF Nick Williams suffered a broken nose in the field on Monday night [url=http://www.eaglescheapauthenticstore.com/josh-sweat-jersey-cheap]Josh Sweat Jersey Eagles[/url] , and Kapler said after Tuesday’s game that Williams would go through concussion protocol on Wednesday before getting clearance to play.

UP NEXT

Cardinals RHP Michael Wacha (8-2, 3.24 ERA) will oppose Phillies RHP Jake Arrieta (5-5, 3.33 ERA) in the series finale Wednesday afternoon. Wacha had his career-best eight-game winning streak snapped in a 13-5 loss to the Cubs in his last start. Arrieta will try to help the Phillies win their first series over St. Louis since August 24, 2014.

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“It’s going to be incredible being on the floor,” Indiana center Myles Turner said. “I think we’re in a great spot. We wanted to go 2-0 but we did our job and got one. I can’t wait to get in front of the Indy fans.”

Pacers point guard Darren Collison expects it to be loud Friday for Game 3 of the first-round playoff series that is tied at a game apiece.

“We can’t wait,” Collison said.

After winning Game 1 by 18 points, the Pacers fell behind 16-1 in Game 2 as LeBron James scored all 16 of those points, including the first 13 for either team. The Cavaliers, never trailed, but had to hold on at the end for a 100-97 victory Wednesday night.

James scored nearly half of the Cavaliers’ points with 46.

“We have to do a better job of containing him, which is easier said than done,” Collison said. “We made enough plays to give ourselves a chance to win despite his 46 points.”

Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue’s focus was to get James going early. Lue switched his starting lineup in Game 2 [url=http://www.49erscheapstore.com/dante-pettis-jersey-cheap]Dante Pettis Jersey 49ers[/url] , inserting shooters J.R. Smith and Kyle Korver in place of Rodney Hood and Jeff Green. Korver, who scored 12 points on 4-of-8 shooting on 3-pointers, started just four games in the regular season. Lue said he plans to stick with that lineup, praising the job Smith did on Victor Oladipo, the Pacers leading scorer, and the fact Korver took two charges from Oladipo.

Oladipo picked up two fouls in the first 62 seconds and had to go the bench. Oladipo finished with 22 points, 10 fewer than he scoring in the Pacers’ win in Game 1 on Sunday.

“I need to see more out of a lot of guys,” Lue said.

Lue understands he can’t expect James to shoot that well (17 of 24) the rest of the series.

“Them being aggressive is something we expected,” Pacers coach Nate McMillan said. “They put shooters on the perimeter [url=http://www.ravenscheapstores.com/lamar-jackson-jersey-cheap]Lamar Jackson Jersey Ravens[/url] , and LeBron was going to put his head down and go to the basket. We didn’t do a good job tonight of keeping the ball in front of us. We made adjustments and got back into the game. The first quarter they basically came out and hit us in the mouth.”

And James issued the biggest punch, scoring 20 in the first quarter as the Cavs led 33-18 entering the second period. It was a stark contrast to the Game 1 loss, when the Cavs trailed 33-14 after one quarter.

“I just felt like I was in a really good rhythm, so just tried to see how long I could stay in that zone and just try to make a mark on the game early on, especially after the way we started in Game 1,” James said.

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Pacers forward Thaddeus Young said the Pacers drew confidence from the fact that they had a shot to win despite James’ huge offensive outburst.

“In order for them to win this game, he had to be aggressive,” Young said. “He made some tough shots. In the first quarter, he made three or four fadeaway jumpers. He made some contested 3s. If he’s going to make those contested shots [url=http://www.texansauthorizedshops.com]Texans Game Jerseys[/url] , it’s going to be a long series.”

Cavaliers forward Kevin Love, who scored 15 points in Game 2, jammed his left thumb late in the game while deflecting a pass. X-rays after the game were negative. Lue and Love said they expect Love to be fine for Friday’s game.

Pacers reserve Joseph Young is listed as questionable with a sinus infection.

James, Smith and Love were on the Cavaliers’ 2016 NBA championship team. Korver joined the trio on the 2017 team, which reached the finals.

“It’s a fine line,” James told Cleveland.com, “because now all the new guys come off the bench. But, yeah, the lineup we had (Wednesday night) worked [url=http://www.tennesseetitansteamonline.com/customized]Customized Tennessee Titans Jerseys[/url] , we all know each other and play well.”

For the Pacers, more focused play is a must.

“We were sloppy with the basketball,” McMillan said. “With 17 turnovers, you are not winning. We’re better than that. You can’t give them 17 extra attempts. We’ll make adjustments and come back and be ready for Friday.”

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And thousands of Phoenix Suns fans roared.

In that one moment, they saw a glimpse of what their team’s future may look like. The No. 1 pick in this year’s draft made his debut at the NBA Summer League on Friday night, and he walked off a winner as the Suns topped the Dallas Mavericks 92-85.

Ayton played 22 minutes, scoring 10 points on 4-for-6 shooting, with the alley-oop in the opening minutes being his first basket. He also grabbed eight rebounds, blocked a shot and committed five fouls.

”A lot of energy,” Ayton said, when asked for the takeaway from his first NBA game – albeit just of the summer variety. ”I could feel the energy around.”

Davon Reed and Mikal Bridges made things easy for Ayton and the Suns, each shooting 4 for 5 from 3-point range. Reed led the Suns with 18 points, while Bridges added 14.

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Jalen Jones scored 16 points and Dennis Smith Jr. added 14 for Dallas (0-1). Luka Doncic did not play for Dallas, as he still awaits his clearance from his Real Madrid deal – which has to arrive before he can sign his contract with the Mavericks.

”I’m just excited to be here,” Doncic told ESPN in an in-game televised interview.

The Suns-Mavs game was part of a 10-game lineup on opening day in Las Vegas, where all 30 NBA franchises have sent a team for the first time. Leagues in Sacramento and Salt Lake City ended Thursday, with about 85,000 tickets sold over three days of play in each of those cities.

More than 125,000 fans went to the games in Las Vegas a year ago.

Friday’s summaries:

CELTICS 95, 76ERS 89

Furkan Korkmaz led all scorers with 40 points in a losing effort for Philadelphia (0-1). Korkmaz was 10 for 18 from the field, 8 for 14 from 3-point range and 12 for 15 from the foul line. Guerschon Yabusele and Semi Ojeleye each scored 16 points for Boston (1-0).

ROCKETS 92, PACERS 89

Trevon Duval scored 20 points and the rookie out of Duke also had three rebounds and two assists for Houston (1-0) in his summer league debut. Danuel House added 20 for the Rockets, while Isaiah Hartenstein finished with 12 points and 11 rebounds. Former UCLA point guard Aaron Holiday [url=http://www.brownscheapstore.com/denzel-ward-jersey-cheap]Denzel Ward Jersey Browns[/url] , the younger brother of NBA guards Jrue and Justin, had a game-high 23 points for Indiana (0-1).

PELICANS 90, RAPTORS 77

Trevon Bluiett came off the bench for New Orleans (1-0) and scored a game-high 24 points. The 6-foot-5 guard out of Xavier, who went undrafted last month, was 6 for 8 from 3-point range and had six rebounds and two assists. Alfonzo McKinnie and Rawle Alkins each had 12 points for Toronto (0-1).

MAGIC 86, NETS 80

Troy Caupain scored 22 points, Jonathan Isaac had 20 points and seven rebounds, and Mohamed Bamba, the No. 6 pick in last month’s draft, added 11 points and seven boards for Orlando. Isaiah Briscoe added 16 points for the Magic (1-0). Shawn Dawson scored 20 points and Tyler Davis, who went undrafted out of Texas A&M, had 13 points for Brooklyn (0-1).

HORNETS 88, THUNDER 87

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BUCKS 90, PISTONS 63

Christian Wood scored 23 for Milwaukee (1-0). Henry Ellenson had 16 for the Pistons (0-1), who shot 27 percent and trailed by as many as 32.

CAVALIERS 72, WIZARDS 59

Ante Zizic had 16 points, 14 rebounds and five assists for Cleveland, which led by double figures from the start of the second quarter on and prevailed. First-round pick Collin Sexton scored 15 points and grabbed seven rebounds, while Cedi Osman finished with 15 points and 10 rebounds for the Cavaliers (1-0). Devin Robinson led Washington with 14 points, while Troy Brown Jr. scored 13 and Aaron Harrison 12. The Wizards (0-1) shot 30 percent from the field and were outrebounded 51-35.

NUGGETS 70, TIMBERWOLVES 69

Monte Morris scored 15 points, Vlatko Cancar added 11 and Malik Beasley 10 to help Denver – which led by 21 points going into the fourth – hold on for the win. Keita Bates-Diop, a second-round pick who finished with nine points and seven rebounds [url=http://www.giantscheapstore.com/will-hernandez-jersey-cheap]Will Hernandez Jersey Giants[/url] , missed a potential winner from just inside half-court at the buzzer. Isaiah Cousins led the Timberwolves with 15 points and Amile Jefferson scored 12 and grabbed 14 rebounds. First-round pick Josh Okogie shot 2 for 10 and finished with 10 points, seven rebounds, four assists, two steals and three blocks.

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Kendrick Nunn, who went undrafted last month, hit 4 of 7 from 3-point range and finished with 18 points for Golden State (1-0). Josh Magette added 10 points, including a step-back 3 that made it 75-71 with 9.8 seconds to play. Sindarius Thornwell led the Clippers (0-1) with 18 points while first-round picks Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Jerome Robinson scored 13 and 12 points, respectively.

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A couple who survived the October shooting at a Las Vegas country music festival has named their newborn after one of the Vegas Golden Knights hockey players [url=http://www.titansfootballauthentics.com/luke-falk-jersey-authentic]Youth Luke Falk Jersey[/url] , saying the team brought positivity into their lives after the tragedy.

Lauren and Brad Sugars’ girl was born May 18, the same day the Golden Knights beat the Winnipeg Jets to advance to the NHL Stanley Cup playoffs, KLAS-TV reported .

The Las Vegas couple originally had Austin in mind as their daughter’s name, but decided to go with Riley – named after Knights player Reilly Smith.

The Sugars didn’t know they were going to become parents until after the festival.

”We know a lot of other friends that went through the same experience and had a lot of trouble moving on [url=http://www.ravenscheapshops.com/cheap-authentic-hoodie]Cheap Baltimore Ravens Hoodie[/url] , and I think we got a very clear reason to move on straight away,” Brad Sugars said.

On Oct. 1, 2017, a man opened fire on the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival and killed 58 people.

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”Route 91 was a very big negative, but our city turned it into a really big positive, and I think the Golden Knights has been a really big part of that,” Brad Sugars said. ”It’s helped immensely to have something positive to focus on.”

The Knights play the Washington Capitals on Monday in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

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Anthony Duclair is a bit embarrassed about bouncing around to various teams and taking a league-minimum [url=http://www.saintsfootballauthentic.com/hats-authentic]Youth New Orleans Saints Hats[/url] , one-year deal.

Duclair signed a $650,000 contract Friday for next season with the Columbus Blue Jackets, his fourth NHL team. He’s been traded twice and last week became an unrestricted free agent when the Chicago Blackhawks decided not to offer him a contract to retain his rights.

”It’s definitely a huge wake-up call,” Duclair said on a conference call. ”You’re a 22-year-old free agent, it’s not the best thing out there. Obviously [url=http://www.seahawkscheapstore.com/shaquem-griffin-jersey-cheap]Shaquem Griffin Jersey Seahawks[/url] , it’s going to raise some eyebrows and raise some questions.”

Columbus was one of a few teams interested in signing Duclair, a 2013 third-round pick who won a world junior gold medal with Canada and spent time with the New York Rangers, Arizona Coyotes and Blackhawks. The one-time 20-goal scorer remains unfilled potential after parts of four NHL seasons.

”Anthony is a skilled, young player with world-class speed, who has played in over 200 NHL games as a 22-year-old and was one of the league’s top rookies just two years ago [url=http://www.ravensfootballauthentics.com/mark-andrews-jersey-authentic]Youth Mark Andrews Jersey[/url] ,” Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen said. ”He is eager for an opportunity to improve as a player, and we think he has a chance to be an impactful addition to our hockey club.”

Duclair was traded by the Rangers to the Coyotes in 2015 and put up career highs with 20 goals, 24 assists and 44 points the next season. Arizona traded him to Chicago in January, and the Blackhawks declined to qualify him after eight points in 23 games.

Being demoted to the American Hockey League during the 2016-17 season was Duclair’s first taste of adversity as a professional. It may prepare him for the next step as a full-time NHL player.

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WASHINGTON — The Boston Red Sox will look to get a jump on the day and complete a sweep of the Washington Nationals Wednesday morning at Nationals Park.

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Boston (58-29) won for the seventh time in its last nine games Tuesday night, getting three-run homers from Eduardo Nunez and Xander Bogaerts, and a two-run shot from J.D. Martinez in an 11-4 rout.

The Red Sox took an early 3-0 lead on the Nunez homer in the second inning, pulled away with a six-run fifth and saw Martinez cap the offensive explosion in the ninth. Martinez drove in four runs, increasing his major league-leading RBI total to 71.

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Washington (42-42) matched Boston’s hit total (12) but couldn’t string them together or produce them at crucial moments. The Nationals remained seven games behind Atlanta in the NL East.

Washington’s Tanner Roark (3-10) saw his June struggles bleed into July as he allowed nine runs on 10 hits in seven innings while preserving a tired bullpen. After the Nationals closed to within 3-2 in the fourth, Roark was tagged in the fifth.

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Washington’s hopes for salvaging the finale rest with right-hander Erick Fedde (1-3, 6.00 ERA), who is replacing injured Stephen Strasburg in the rotation. Fedde picked up a win in his previous start despite allowing five runs and eight hits in five innings of a 17-7 win over the Phillies on Friday.

“My stuff wasn’t great today,” he told MASN.com. “But days like those it’s really nice when your team puts up 17 runs. I’ll take that. Hopefully next time when the games are close, I can be the one to keep it close.” [img]http://www.sndpic.com//nike_nfl_jerseys/nike_st._louis_rams/nike_rams_3631.jpg[/img] Wednesday will be Fedde’s first career appearance against Boston.

Boston left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez (9-3 [url=http://www.authenticstampabaybuccaneers.com/cheap-m.j.-stewart-jersey]M.J. Stewart Jersey Elite[/url] , 4.11) will try to snap a two-start slump Wednesday morning. Last time out he gave up five runs on seven hits — including two home runs — in six innings of an 8-1 loss to the Yankees on Friday. It was his second straight loss after winning six straight starts.

“I missed a couple pitches down the plate and they made an adjustment,” Rodriguez told the Boston Herald. “No matter who you face, if you miss on the plate that’s what happens.”

Rodriguez has never faced the Nationals.

The Nationals may get some offensive help Wednesday with the possible return of first baseman Matt Adams (fractured finger), who went 0-for-3 in a rehab game Tuesday night for Double-A Harrisburg.

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By the time he scored his second he had already added three assists.

And when the Bruins forward completed the hat trick , faking out a second goalie with a forehand deke before sliding the puck between his legs, it was just one more chance for the Boston fans to celebrate his playoff coming-out party.

”Six points in a Stanley Cup playoff game with a hat trick,” coach Bruce Cassidy said Saturday night after the Bruins beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 7-3 to take a 2-0 lead in their best-of-seven, first-round series. ”That’s special.”

Pastrnak shattered his previous career high of four points, scoring his third goal with 1:36 left to bring two trash cans full of caps and winter hats fluttering down to the ice. Only Wayne Gretzky (three times), Mario Lemieux and Patrick Sundstrom have recorded more than six points in an NHL playoff game.

”A lot of people in Boston already know how good he is,” linemate Patrice Bergeron said. ”I think people on the outside are getting to know.”

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”It’s not going to happen every night,” Cassidy said. ”At the end of the day, our guys do believe – from one to 12, I do believe our guys believe they can score.”

Two nights after Frederik Andersen allowed five goals in the series opener, he gave up three more on five shots in the first 12:13 before he was replaced by backup Curtis McElhinney. The Bruins added another power-play goal – their second of the night and fifth of the series – to make it 4-0 after one.

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The series moves to Toronto for Games 3 and 4 on Monday and Thursday. Game 5 would be back in Boston on Saturday, if necessary.

It doesn’t look like it will be.

”Look, we were outplayed for two games, certainly,” Maple Leafs defenseman Ron Hainsey said. ”We deserve every bit of criticism far and wide. Good news is: (the) story’s not totally written yet. … We can try to change the story come Monday night.”

Already struggling on offense, Toronto lost No. 4 scorer Nazem Kadri for three games when he was suspended by the NHL for boarding Tommy Wingels in Game 1. Wingels, whose injury was not disclosed [url=http://www.packerscheapstore.com/jaire-alexander-jersey-cheap]Jaire Alexander Jersey Packers[/url] , skated in practice Saturday but did not play.

The Leafs could have used Kadri – and a few other scorers like him.

Pastrnak gave Boston a 1-0 lead five minutes into the game when he corralled a bouncing puck in the slot with his back to the goalie, settled it down, spun around and backhanded it in. After DeBrusk made it 2-0 on the power play four minutes later, Miller bounced one in off the back of defenseman Nikita Zaitsev to give the Bruins a three-goal lead and chase Andersen.

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Notes: The Bruins donated $200,000 to the Humboldt Broncos relief efforts, the money from a luxury suite auction and the team’s share of the 50/50 raffle at Game 1 of the series. Sixteen people died and another 13 were injured when the team’s bus collided with a truck last week in Saskatchewan. … With two goals on four power plays, the Bruins are now five for 10 in the series. … Ryan Donato [url=http://www.falconscheapstore.com/calvin-ridley-jersey-cheap]Calvin Ridley Jersey Falcons[/url] , the son of former Bruin Ted Donato, made his playoff debut. They are the second father and son duo to play for the team in the postseason, joining two-time Stanley Cup-winner Ken (R.) Hodge and his son, Ken (D.) Hodge. … One of the biggest cheers of the night was when the scoreboard showed highlights of Wednesday night’s fight between the Red Sox and Yankees, then cut to brawl instigator pitcher Joe Kelly in the stands. The crowd broke into a chant of ”Yankees Suck!”

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George McPhee will only get a ring if the Vegas Golden Knights win the Stanley Cup.

Maybe he should get one if the Washington Capitals win.

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”It’s funny how life goes,” McPhee said Sunday in Las Vegas. ”Two years ago I was walking around Ann Arbor kicking stones and couldn’t get a job.”

McPhee went two years between his job as Capitals GM and his new one when new owner Bill Foley hired him for the dream job of his life as GM running the as-yet-named Vegas expansion team. From MacLellan to captain Alex Ovechkin, star center Nicklas Backstrom, goaltender Braden Holtby and management staffs on either side, this final in many ways is a validation of McPhee’s philosophy, knowledge and career.

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McPhee was GM when the Capitals last made the Cup Final in 1998 but had just taken over the previous summer. Until the past year, his greatest accomplishment was rebuilding Washington into a perennial playoff team and title contender that went to the playoffs from 2008-2013.

After missing the playoffs in 2014, the Capitals did not renew McPhee’s contract.

”When you’re working with (players), they’re sometimes like your own kids,” McPhee said. ”You’re on call for them all the time [url=http://www.pantherscheapstore.com]Youth Carolina Panthers Jerseys[/url] , you’re trying to help them, you try to steer them in the right direction. Then you get fired and you’re suddenly persona non grata because nobody wants to be seen to be too close to you in the organization. I understand that’s how things change quickly and that’s the business.”

Things changed quickly because MacLellan went from McPhee’s college teammate and roommate and then right-hand man as assistant GM to the person who owner Ted Leonsis said gave ”the most negative of the interviews” among candidates. MacLellan said he felt like he had nothing to lose during the interview process, which led to him landing the job at the same time Barry Trotz was named coach.

MacLellan conceded Friday his relationship with McPhee was ”not as close” as in previous decades.

”I think it just took a little time for things to evolve,” MacLellan said. ”I think he needed a break from the game, needed a break from how it went down for him here and it just took time.”

MacLellan choked up a couple of times talking about glory days with McPhee, when they won the Central Collegiate Hockey Association Championship together at Bowling Green. McPhee and MacLellan have had dinner and texted in recent days about how strange it is to face each other after all that has transpired.

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McPhee still has plenty of supporters in the Capitals’ locker room, especially among players he stuck his neck out for. He signed Jay Beagle as a college free agent in 2007, listened to now-Vegas goaltending coach Dave Prior and selected Holtby as the 10th goaltender in the 2008 draft and picked Tom Wilson in the first round in 2012.

”I have a very fond respect for George,” Wilson said. ”You always have kind of a soft spot for the guy that drafted you, that brought you into the league, that gave you a chance. … He kind of always had his players’ back.”

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”The trades and the deals that he made were to win the Stanley Cup that year,” Beagle said. ”You can always look back and be like, `Oh it wasn’t the right one’ or `It was the right one.’ But at the time it was the moves that he felt needed to be done to win a Stanley Cup that year because we had a team to do it for a lot of years.”

Now that the Capitals – and Golden Knights – have that team, McPhee will be there each night to see one of his teams lift the Cup.

”I’m certainly proud of the Washington team and the players,” McPhee said. ”Really happy for them – and really proud of this team we have in Vegas.”

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“I am excited to add Teryl to our coaching staff as defensive coordinator,” Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said. “He is a bright and aggressive coach with a wealth of experience. I look forward to working alongside him to take full advantage of our talented defensive personnel.”

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Austin interviewed for Detroit’s coaching vacancy last week.

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Austin was previously a secondary coach for the Baltimore Ravens and has also coached defensive backs for the Arizona Cardinals and Seattle Seahawks.

“It’s an honor to join the Bengals’ organization,” Austin said. “I look forward to leading an aggressive group of young men and helping them and the team achieve our goals.”

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”We call ourselves the Golden Misfits for a reason,” winger Ryan Reaves said prior to the Stanley Cup Final series against Washington. ”We’ve proven everyone else wrong all season.”

Vegas entered the Final as favorites over the Capitals, who broke into the league in 1974 and are still in search of their first championship. The Golden Knights won the opener, but after dropping two in a row they find themselves playing a familiar role as they prepare for Game 4 on Monday night.

”We’re still underdogs,” left wing David Perron said. ”They’re a great team over there. Now the pressure is on them to keep going. We’re going to find a way to answer.”

The Capitals got caught up in a fast-paced, fire-at-will contest in Game 1, and Vegas rolled to a 6-4 victory. Washington made the adjustment in Game 2 and won 3-2, then gripped the defensive clamp even tighter Saturday night in a 3-1 win.

Now, mired in their initial losing streak of the playoffs and trailing 2-1 in games for the first time [url=http://www.billscheapstore.com/marshall-newhouse-jersey-cheap]Marshall Newhouse Jersey Bills[/url] , the Golden Knights are desperate to become more effective pushing the puck toward the net.

”We get it out on our blue line and we try to make a cross-ice play and they’re picking it off,” Reaves said. ”Their transition game is good. We’re getting to their blue line and we’re trying get cute again instead of doing what works. With this team, that’s getting it in and then going to work.”

The Capitals know this, and they have taken great strides to shackle a team that averaged 3.31 goals per game during the regular season, tied for fourth in the NHL.

”Offensive teams have certain tendencies, certain routes that they take through the neutral zone, plays they like to make,” Washington defenseman Matt Niskanen said. ”So if you can be on top of them and turn over some pucks, stifle them [url=http://www.seahawksfootballauthentics.com/dontae-johnson-jersey-authentic]Youth Dontae Johnson Jersey[/url] , make it hard for them to gain entry with possession, that frustrates skilled players.”

The Golden Knights mustered only 22 shots on goal in Game 3, with Tomas Nosek getting the lone score after Washington goaltender Braden Holtby did a miserable job of clearing the puck from behind his net.

”They defended well. We were getting clogged up a little bit,” Vegas winger James Neal said. ”They sit back. We’ve got to get pucks to the net. We didn’t have enough shots. We didn’t have enough bodies going to the net. They out-battled us. We’re going to look at that and fix it.”

That’s what Sunday’s skate was about. The Golden Knights understand the problem, and the task now is to correct the shortcoming.

”We’ve just got to get back to our game, getting pucks deep and getting in on the forecheck,” defenseman Derek Engelland said. ”It’s been our key all season long, the five-man forecheck and five-guy pressure all over the ice.”

Vegas doesn’t need a high-scoring, freestyle affair to win. The Golden Knights have a pair of 1-0 shutouts during the playoffs and have won twice when scoring only two goals.

The key is to cut down on the mistakes. Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury stopped Alex Ovechkin at the end of a 2-on-1 rush early in the game [url=http://www.lionsfootballauthentic.com/tracy-walker-jersey-authentic]Youth Tracy Walker Jersey[/url] , but the Capitals converted an odd-man blitz in the second period for a 2-0 lead.

”Working hard to get down low, we just couldn’t hold onto it or make a big play, and the Capitals are going the other way,” Vegas center Ryan Carpenter said.

It’s not by accident. Washington coach Barry Trotz changed things up after Game 1, and the results were profound.

”There are things that they do that have given us some difficulties, and we’ve adjusted,” Trotz said. ”They’ll do the same.”

The Capitals have fortified their defense, and Vegas now must find a way to penetrate the barrier. If it can do that, then Fleury will happily do his part in to help bring the series back to Las Vegas tied a two games apiece.

[img]http://www.sndpic.com//nike_nfl_jerseys/nike_minnesota_vikings/nike_vikings_611.jpg[/img] ”I have faith in these guys that they can do well [url=http://www.giantsfootballauthentic.com/saquon-barkley-jersey-authentic]Youth Saquon Barkley Jersey[/url] , they can do what they’ve done for the past three rounds and all season long,” the goaltender said.

What they’ve done, more often than not, is win when few thought they could.

”We’ve been in situations like this before: adversity, have our backs against the wall a bit,” defenseman Luca Sbisa said. ”The belief in our group is still here. Just got to stick together.”

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The youth movement is alive and thriving for the Boston Celtics.

And for the second straight game it was enough to upend a Philadelphia 76ers team that still has much to figure out as it heads home trailing 2-0 in the Eastern Conference semifinals.

Rookie Jayson Tatum scored 21 points and hit a pair of free throws in the closing seconds [url=http://www.lionsfootballauthentic.com/sylvester-williams-jersey-authentic]Youth Sylvester Williams Jersey[/url] , helping the Celtics rally from a 22-point deficit to beat the 76ers 108-103 on Thursday night.

Terry Rozier added 20 points, nine assists and seven rebounds. Marcus Smart finished with 19 points and five rebounds as the Celtics improved to 6-0 at TD Garden this postseason. They have never blown a 2-0 lead.

”Coach was saying whoever is the tougher team is going to win,” Rozier said. ”They definitely punched us in the mouth at the beginning of the game. We just had to bounce back and get things together.”

Game 3 is Saturday in Philadelphia.

J.J. Redick had 23 points for the 76ers, making five 3-pointers. Robert Covington added 22 points and nine rebounds. Joel Embiid finished with 20 points, 14 rebounds and five assists, but rookie star Ben Simmons missed all four shots and had just one point.

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Philadelphia recovered after squandering its big lead to nudge back in front 93-88 midway through the fourth quarter.

But an 11-4 run put Boston back in the lead 99-95 with less than four minutes to play.

It was 101-97 when a missed Philadelphia jumper led to a 2-on-1 fast break and alley-oop dunk from Rozier to Tatum with 2:23 left.

A layup by Dario Saric cut it to 104-101. But Al Horford was able to drive past Embiid for a layup with 8.3 seconds left.

Saric scored out of a timeout to make it 106-103. The Sixers quickly fouled Tatum, who calmly hit a pair of free throws.

Following an anemic offensive effort in Game 1, the Sixers looked rejuvenated early in Game 2, using a 14-2 run to begin the second quarter on their way to building a 48-26 lead.

It didn’t last.

The Celtics responded by ending the half on a 25-8 run. It included three straight 3-pointers and a tip-dunk by Jaylen Brown [url=http://www.buffalobillsteamonline.com]Bills Authentic Jerseys[/url] , who returned to action after sitting out the series opener with a strained right hamstring. He came off the bench and played 25 minutes, scoring 13 points and grabbing four rebounds.

The Sixers’ lead was completely erased midway through the third quarter, when Aron Baynes got a 3-pointer to bounce in and put Boston in front for the first time.

The lead grew to 76-68 on a baseline dunk by Tatum that capped a 50-20 Celtics run.

”Once we got on that run we never looked back,” Rozier said.

Brown entered the game for the first time at the 7:14 mark of first quarter. It took less than a minute to make an impact. He missed his first shot attempt before chasing down a loose ball and sprinting ahead for a one-handed dunk .

Prior to Thursday, Brown had started every game he’d appeared in this season. It was his first time off the bench since Game 5 of last season’s Eastern Conference Finals.

”They won two games at home and we have to reciprocate,” Sixers coach Brett Brown said. ”There’s not going to be a pity party.”

TIP-INS

76ers: Outrebounded the Celtics 49-41. … Went 13 of 33 from the 3-point line.

Celtics: The 22-point comeback victory represents their largest come-from-behind playoff victory since Game 4 of the 2008 NBA Finals (24 pts). … Went 15 of 36 from the 3-point line.

HE SAID IT

”It’s like a movie. You only see these type of comebacks in movies.” – Celtics guard Marcus Smart.

SLOW START

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They started off the game 0 for 5 and didn’t score until Smart’s 3-pointer at the 8:37 mark of the first quarter.

Horford (1 for 3), Rozier (0 for 4), Brown (1 for 4) and Marcus Morris (0 for 3) were a combined 2 for 14 in the period, allowing Philadelphia to build a 31-22.

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Philadelphia-born rapper Meek Mill sat courtside for Game 2. Mill was released from jail last week after spending nearly five months behind bars on a probation violation. Rapper Gucci Mane sat across from the 76ers bench wearing a Brown jersey. The two met last year when Brown attended one of his concerts.

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The Minnesota Timberwolves picked up another important win to keep pace in this relentless Western Conference race.

Their quest to end the franchise’s 14-year absence from the playoffs still isn’t finished.

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”We had to play as if we had that kind of desperation in us,” said Towns, who had five dunks to help ignite the crowd.

They haven’t always displayed that attitude down the stretch, which is why they weren’t able to clinch that long-sought spot before their 82nd game. They’ll have to beat surging Denver on Wednesday night to get in, because the Nuggets won their sixth straight game to stay tied with the Wolves in eighth place. Denver’s victory over Portland ended about an hour after Minnesota’s, but the players expressed nonchalance about following along as they left the arena.

”I’m not going to check my phone. I’m going to go eat,” Jimmy Butler said wryly, after scoring 15 points in 23 minutes, his second game back from the knee injury.

Jeff Teague added 24 points for the Timberwolves [url=http://www.chicagocubsteamshops.com/authentic-mike-montgomery-jersey]Mike Montgomery Jersey[/url] , who trailed by 10 points early before taking over against a depleted Grizzlies team that beat them 101-93 exactly two weeks ago in one of their worst losses of the season.

Teague missed six of his first eight shots, but he helped the Wolves pull away with a four-point play in the early portion of the third quarter. His lob found Andrew Wiggins for a soaring dunk about three minutes later. Gorgui Dieng sank his second 3-pointer of the night soon after for a 75-63 lead. Butler gave the Wolves a 98-83 lead midway through the fourth quarter with a hustle to finish a fast break with a layup.

The Wolves brought energy and crisp ball movement, but they clearly carried some pressure with them during an ugly start filled with turnovers and misfires. They made only four of their first 16 shots from the field, and boos circulated in the arena as Omari Johnson’s jumper put the Grizzles in front 24-14. Butler missed a short bank shot as he was fouled and bricked the first free throw, too, causing him to growl in disgust as he reached the bench early in the second quarter.

The Wolves, though, used a 20-4 run to lighten the mood a little in the arena. Derrick Rose (13 points), Dieng (11 points) and Tyus Jones (eight points) combined to produce a solid output from the second unit.

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GIBSON GOES OUT

The Wolves lost power forward Taj Gibson in the first quarter to a neck injury he suffered in the previous game and tried to play through. He left for the locker room without returning to the bench.

”It’s tough when you can’t even turn your neck from right to left when you look around,” Gibson said. ”Just try to get as much treatment as possible.”

STILL SWEATING

Ben McLemore had 18 points for the Grizzlies, who moved one loss closer to a prime lottery pick and fell to 6-34 on the road.

The Grizzlies, whose streak of seven straight postseason appearances was snapped long ago, were sapped by the summer departures of stalwarts Zach Randolph, Tony Allen and Vince Carter. Mike Conley, Tyreke Evans and Chandler Parsons have missed a combined 143 games. Even Marc Gasol, who bested Towns for 20 points and 10 rebounds in the last matchup [url=http://www.bostonredsoxteamshop.com/authentic-david-price-jersey]David Price Jersey[/url] , sat out to rest. The starting lineup for this game had only one holdover, Dillon Brooks, from the March 26 meeting.

The Grizzlies would match the franchise’s worst record (22-60) since the move to Memphis if they lose their final game.

”It’s disrespectful to say that guys are tanking and trying to lose, because those guys that are on the floor every night have something to prove,” interim coach J.B. Bickerstaff said, adding: ”Every single night they’re giving their best effort. So you’ve got to give the guys that are out there on the court more respect than I think people give them credit for.”

TIP-INS

Grizzlies: MarShon Brooks, who averaged nearly 24 points over his first five games with the team since joining last month fresh from the Chinese league, missed 12 of 16 shots against tough defense from Butler and finished with 14 points.

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Timberwolves: Backup center Cole Aldrich, who has logged just 49 minutes all season, was honored before the game with the Flip Saunders Legacy Award for community service in honor of the team’s late executive and coach. Aldrich had an assist in the final minute.

UP NEXT

Grizzlies: Play at Oklahoma City on Wednesday to wrap up the franchise’s 23rd season, the 17th in Memphis.

Timberwolves: Take on Denver on Wednesday, after losing 100-96 on the road last week.

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He pointed out that Arians was the last coach hired in 2013.

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”The timing for my family was not appropriate for me to pursue this potential opportunity,” he said in a statement this week, ”but I am very excited with the decision to remain with the Pittsburgh Steelers.”

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Bidwill wants second interviews with the finalists and wants the candidates to come to Arizona to see the team’s training facility and stadium.

But Schwartz, DeFilippo and Flores can’t talk again until next week because their teams are still in the playoffs.

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”He is terrifically qualified to lead a team,” Quinn said at his season-ending news conference on Thursday. ”And I’ve thought this for a long time.”

Wilks also had a second interview in Arizona on Friday, the Arizona Republic reported. He was interviewed Thursday for the vacant head coaching job in Tennessee.

Recruiting a new coach in Arizona is made more difficult by the fact the Cardinals have no established quarterback following the retirement of Carson Palmer. There’s also uncertainty about the return of wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald and the impact the coaching choice will have on the star receiver’s decision. The rest of the Cardinals’ receiving corps is thin.

[img]http://www.sndpic.com//nike_nfl_jerseys/nike_oakland_raiders/nike_raiders_3610.jpg[/img] Whoever takes the job will join an NFC West where the other three teams are set at quarterback – Jared Goff in Los Angeles, Russell Wilson in Seattle and, now [url=http://www.minnesotavikingsteamonline.com/jalyn-holmes-jersey]Authentic Jalyn Holmes Jersey[/url] , Jimmy Garoppolo in San Francisco.

The Cardinals do have a strong returning defense and will have one of the NFL’s best running backs in David Johnson, who will be back from a broken wrist, an injury that occurred in the 2017 opener and sidelined him the rest of the season.

AP Sports Writer Charles Odum in Atlanta contributed to this report.

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The Bulls on Sunday formally matched the four-year, $80 million offer sheet LaVine signed with the Sacramento Kings, a move that was expected almost from the instant the restricted free agent got the offer.

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LaVine has missed 91 of a possible 162 games over the past two seasons because of injuries, and the Bulls will have some language in this contract protecting them if his surgically repaired left knee remains problematic.

”Zach showed a relentless work ethic in rehabbing his ACL injury to return to the court, and he has a visible passion for the game of basketball [url=http://www.steelerscheapshops.com/cheap-authentic-chukwuma-okorafor-jersey]Cheap Chukwuma Okorafor Jersey[/url] ,” Bulls vice president of basketball operations John Paxson said. ”We know that those attributes, along with his honed skills, will make him an impact player in this league for years to come. We’re thrilled to keep Zach on this Bulls team moving forward.”

LaVine appeared in only 24 games for the Bulls last season, averaging 16.7 points on 38 percent shooting. The Bulls acquired LaVine a year ago, as part of the trade that sent Jimmy Butler from Chicago to Minnesota.

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Both deals were confirmed to The Associated Press by people directly involved in the negotiations, both of whom spoke on condition of anonymity because neither had been formally announced by the clubs involved.

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Marc-Andre Fleury never believed the expansion Vegas Golden Knights were a team built just for the future [url=http://www.dallascowboysteamonline.com/michael-gallup-jersey]Authentic Michael Gallup Jersey[/url] , and that losing would be acceptable because it was the inaugural season.

On Sept. 13, the three-time Stanley Cup goaltender said: ”It’s not something I accept. Every guy here wants to win. We know where we’re at, we won’t accept losing. We’re looking at winning some games.”

With help from Fleury, the Golden Knights did a lot more than win some games. They’re one of the most successful expansion teams ever. In any sport.

”It’s a good thing it worked out, so I don’t look like a fool,” Fleury said Friday about his bold preseason statement.

”Every guy here has a lot of pride in the way we play, the way we look at ourselves as a team every night. We all have pride in winning and I think it’s shown throughout the season, and in the (first round of the) playoffs, too.”

Fleury dominated the Los Angeles Kings in the first round. The Golden Knights became just the sixth team to allow three or fewer goals in a playoff series going back to 1980.

With an 0.65 goals-against average Fleury joined a short list of goalies since 1967-68 who have won all four games of a playoff series and kept their GAA to 0.70 or fewer.

Same ole Fleury, different team.

”We played some very sound hockey and when we didn’t, when we were having a bad period or a bad stretch, goaltending was there to help us stabilize [url=http://www.dallascowboysteamonline.com/bo-scarbrough-jersey]Authentic Bo Scarbrough Jersey[/url] ,” Vegas general manager George McPhee said. ”And that’s why he’s here, that’s what he gets paid to do and he does it very well.”

Next up: the San Jose Sharks.

After fans watched a stellar goaltending matchup between Fleury and Kings’ Jonathan Quick, the 14-year veteran faces a San Jose team that had goalie Martin Jones stop 128 of 132 shots in a sweep of the Anaheim Ducks.

”Their goalie is very good; their defensemen also contribute to their attacks, they’re a quicker team than L.A. I think they’ll create more offensively,” Fleury said. ”It’ll be a little more fast pace and a little more open hockey, they’ll be a little more up and down.”

Fleury will prepare with a meticulous approach and tranquil execution that impresses teammates.

”His calmness in the net is unbelievable,” defenseman Shea Theodore said. ”When you’re having little chit chats on the ice and you’ve been hemmed in and they’ve had five or six or seven Grade A chances and he’s been flopping around, you go to talk to him. . He’s just so calm and so patient in the net, I feel it definitely calms our group down.”

Forward Cody Eakin said Fleury always lets his teammates know he is aware of their play.

”It’s just a huge part of his game, tracking pucks, being sharp, or knowing what’s going on around him – he’s phenomenal at that [url=http://www.giantscheapshops.com/cheap-authentic-patrick-omameh-jersey]Cheap Patrick Omameh Jersey[/url] ,” Eakin said. ”It gives you confidence when he’s talking to you, or you can talk to him, or skate by and give him a wink. He’s pretty amazing.”

Amazing, like the Golden Knights’ improbable season. And Fleury said they’re just getting started.

”We’re not done here,” he said, ”hopefully we have a long way to go.”

STATWATCH: Fleury stopped 127 of 130 shots in the first round, a save percentage of .977. His career playoff save percentage is .910. He had two shutouts while allowing three goals in 275 minutes against the Kings.

While Fleury doesn’t get consumed with stats, there is one that matters to him.

”Wins,” he said. ”I’m not out there to prove anything, I just want to win games. If I can help the team get wins, that’s all that matters. If I win and the team wins, everybody’s happy [url=http://www.clevelandindiansteamshops.com/authentic-josh-tomlin-jersey]Josh Tomlin Jersey[/url] , the coaches, the fans, and at the end of the day that’s why you play.”

The last time Fleury led his team to a first-round sweep was in 2009, when the Penguins won the Stanley Cup – the first of three in his career.

BIGGEST MOMENT: Any one of the three times Fleury hoisted the Stanley Cup was a big moment during his career. But not the biggest, according to him.

”My first game was pretty big, because that’s always been my dream to play in the NHL,” said Fleury, who allowed two goals and stopped 46 shots in a 3-0 loss to the Kings in his NHL debut on Oct. 10, 2003. ”I never thought I would make it. But the first time I could play and made some saves in a game, I thought that was so cool.” [img]http://www.sndpic.com//nike_nfl_jerseys/nike_new_england_patriots/nike_patriots_3219.jpg[/img] Fleury didn’t say where a Stanley Cup with Vegas would rank, keeping his focus on San Jose.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR: During an interview on NHL Network, former teammate Ryan Whitney asked the prankster goalie if he had moved on from Olive Garden [url=http://www.losangelesdodgersteamshop.com/authentic-matt-kemp-jersey]Matt Kemp Jersey[/url] , which Fleury laughingly said fit his budget back then. Nowadays, Fleury’s pregame meals are catered to his liking by the chefs at City National Arena, the team’s headquarters.

”On game day I always eat the same stuff. I just go with noodles, oil and chicken, a little vegetable, a side salad,” said Fleury, who said he cherishes the vibe on game day, including the drive to T-Mobile Arena.

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A look ahead to top enterprise and feature stories planned globally by AP Sports. New digests will go out each Thursday and Monday and will be repeated on other weekdays. Please note that story plans may change depending on news and other issues.

For access to AP Newsroom and other technical issues [url=http://www.newyorkgiantsteamonline.com/cody-latimer-jersey]Authentic Cody Latimer Jersey[/url] , contact AP Customer Support at apcustomersupport(at)ap.org or 877-836-9477. For reruns, call the Service Desk 800-838-4616 or your local AP bureau.

As with all our operations, we welcome and want your feedback. If you have thoughts or questions about the Sports Showcase Digest or the material listed, please reach out to Oskar Garcia, assistant sports editor for the U.S. east region [url=http://www.chicagocubsteamshops.com/authentic-yu-darvish-jersey]Yu Darvish Jersey[/url] , at 215-446-6632 or at ogarcia(at)ap.org.

All times are Eastern.

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THURSDAY, April 5

BBA–RAYS-MR TBD

NEW YORK – The Tampa Bay Rays have an ambidextrous No. 4 starting pitcher, whose repertoire changes from outing to outing along with his age and name. He is listed among probable pitchers by his initials: TBD. With an 0-1 record this season, he takes the mound Thursday at Boston and goes again Sunday. Rejecting baseball tradition, the Rays plan to regularly use relievers to combine for a turn in their rotation. By Baseball Writer Ronald Blum. UPCOMING: 800 words [url=http://www.houstontexansteamonline.com/jordan-akins-jersey]Authentic Jordan Akins Jersey[/url] , photos by 4 a.m.

FRIDAY, April 6

HKN–DEEP PREDATORS

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Nashville Predators are having their best season yet through a combination of savvy drafting, surprising trades and a handful of salary cap-friendly contract extensions. General manager David Poile’s crafty moves have the defending Western Conference champs on the verge of what could be a dominant run in the NHL. By Teresa M. Walker. UPCOMING: 725 words, photos. Video.

Again [url=http://www.dolphinscheapshops.com/cheap-authentic-mike-gesicki-jersey]Authentic Mike Gesicki Jersey[/url] , if you have questions about the Sports Showcase Digest or the material listed, please reach out to Oskar Garcia, assistant sports editor for the U.S. east region, at 215-446-6632 or at ogarcia(at)ap.org.

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AP Sports

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Everyone is accounted for in Minnesota, where good vibes from the top of the organization to the bottom of the roster can only help the Vikings in their attempt to better their NFC championship game appearance from last season.

”All these guys, they like to be around each other. So I think that’s part of it,” coach Mike Zimmer said. ”We’ve got a lot of really good guys on this football team who care about not just them, but they care about each other. It’s kind of just the way we do things.”

Savvy salary cap management steered by executive vice president of football operations Rob Brzezinski has allowed the Vikings to put the majority of their stars in mutually beneficial multi-year deals, but outside linebacker Anthony Barr [url=http://www.ravenscheapshops.com/cheap-authentic-anthony-averett-jersey]Cheap Anthony Averett Jersey[/url] , wide receiver Stefon Diggs and defensive end Danielle Hunter have all entered 2018 on expiring contracts that must be addressed soon unless the Vikings are willing to let them become free agents and potentially price the club out on the open market.

Still, all three of them have been practicing with the team this week, clearly confident enough in their future earnings to opt for full participation over mild protest. Barr, for his part, missed one week of organized team activities last month, an absence he said was to secure an insurance policy in case of a severe injury that would derail the value of his next deal. He said recently his hope was to have a new contract in place by the beginning of on-field workouts in May [url=http://www.tennesseetitansteamonline.com/rashaan-evans-jersey]Authentic Rashaan Evans Jersey[/url] , but that’s the closest anyone has come to even hinting about dissatisfaction.

Barr is among the 2014 first-round draft picks who’ve reached their first career crossroad, playing the fifth option year that the majority of teams have exercised for cost control. Then there are the post-first round 2015 picks such as Hunter and Diggs who’ve entered the fourth season of their rookie deals.

Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell, Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald, Arizona Cardinals running back David Johnson, Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones, Tennessee Titans left tackle Taylor Lewan and Oakland Raiders defensive end Khalil Mack have created headlines around the league for staying home this week from minicamp.

”My job is to come in to work [url=http://www.atlantabravesteamShop.com/authentic-orlando-cepeda-jersey]Orlando Cepeda Jersey[/url] , just like you come in to work the same way,” Hunter said. ”My job is to come in and get on this field and play football.”

Clearly, he’s been listening to the head coach, as have many of his teammates.

”That’s one thing Zim has taught us since he’s been here: No one player is more important than the team,” Hunter said. ”So I guess that kind of grew into the program. The team is way bigger than one person. In order to help the team, you’ve got to do your job. And we want to be great. We want to be where we need to be. Last year [url=http://www.oaklandraidersteamonline.com/p.j.-hall-jersey]Authentic P.J. Hall Jersey[/url] , it wasn’t close to that, so we’ve got to work for that again.”

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The Sacramento Kings own it, and that’s where the intrigue appears to begin Thursday.

Arizona center Deandre Ayton is expected to be taken by the Phoenix Suns to open the draft, and then Bagley, Porter, Slovenian guard Luka Doncic or Michigan State’s Jaren Jackson Jr. could be considered by Sacramento.

The Kings have been one of the league’s lowliest franchises, not making the playoffs since 2006. But Bagley and Porter both said they would be open to playing in Sacramento, and getting picked so early would be an accomplishment for Porter after a back injury sidelined him for nearly all of his only season at Missouri.

Bagley thrived in his one season at Duke and doesn’t expect that to change once he’s a pro.

”I want to be the greatest player to ever play the game of basketball, and I mean that in the most humble way possible,” he said. ”Not to sound cocky or come off as arrogant, but that’s just the mindset that I have. I always say [url=http://www.newyorkgiantsteamonline.com/will-hernandez-jersey]Authentic Will Hernandez Jersey[/url] , if you don’t want to get to that level or be the best, then there’s really no need to play.”

Doncic only arrived in the U.S. on Wednesday after helping Real Madrid win the ACB league championship a day earlier. If the Kings don’t select him, he could end up in Atlanta, Memphis or Dallas, who round out the top-five spots.

Other things to know before Thursday’s draft at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center:

BAHAMAS TO BROOKLYN

Ayton could join 1978 top pick Mychal Thompson – father of Golden State star Klay Thompson – as the only players from the Bahamas to go No. 1.

”It’s just a huge opportunity to show the world that we’re coming. Bahamian people are coming,” Ayton said. ”We’re not just only a country of track and field athletes. We can also play basketball.”

If it happens and Doncic follows, it would be the first time the NBA draft started with two international-born players.

TERRIFIC TEAMMATES

Power programs such as Duke (Bagley and Wendell Carter Jr.), Michigan State (Jackson and Miles Bridges), national champion Villanova (Mikal Bridges and Donte DiVincenzo) and Kentucky (Kevin Knox and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander) could have multiple players taken in the top 10-15 selections of the two-round draft.

MAKING A MOCKERY

Jackson was on the rise in some mock drafts this spring, though he never noticed. He said he would look at them sometimes when he was a younger fan [url=http://www.giantscheapshops.com/cheap-authentic-lorenzo-carter-jersey]Authentic Lorenzo Carter Jersey[/url] , but hasn’t had any interest now that his name is in them.

”I think when I was in high school, I probably looked at those mock drafts when they came out and said, `Oh snap.’ But as I found out there was like so many people making different ones, I kind of just lost interest in looking at it,” he said. ”I kind of just play my game, work on getting better and just wait for that moment. Tomorrow’s the day so there’s no more mocks. It’s going to be the regular draft.”

TURN OFF TWITTER

Porter was frustrated when he felt comments he made in an interview were turned around, quickly learning that life will be different in the NBA.

”I’ll give you an example. Yesterday I get asked, who have you been compared to in the NBA? Who do people compare you to?” Porter said. ”And I said, `You know, I’ve been compared to KD (Kevin Durant) before. I’ve been compared to Tracy McGrady [url=http://www.giantscheapshops.com/cheap-authentic-lorenzo-carter-jersey]Cheap Lorenzo Carter Jersey[/url] ,’ and then they put it on Twitter, it’s like, Michael Porter says he’s as good as KD and Tracy McGrady. And I’m like come on, bro, I didn’t say that. But at the end of the day, that’s why I try to stay off Twitter.”

STYLE WATCH

Carter wore pants that had a different pattern on each leg to his Wednesday media session and there was some other sparkle in the room, but the best of the style figures to come out, as usual, on draft night.

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”Yeah, it’s going to be something fine,” the point guard said. ”It’s going to be something crazy.”

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TUESDAY, JUNE 19

BKN–NBA DRAFT-YOUNG

Trae Young’s numbers in his lone season of college were ridiculous. He led the nation in scoring and assists. He had NBA stars tweeting about his every move. But where he’s going to end up in the draft on Thursday night remains a bit of a mystery, for reasons that Young doesn’t fully understand. By Basketball Writer Tim Reynolds. UPCOMING: 700 words, photos by 2 p.m.

BKN–NBA DRAFT-BIGS

RALEIGH, N.C. – Arizona one-and-done 7-footer Deandre Ayton headlines the list of big men in the NBA draft. Ayton was a dominating force in college and could be the No. 1 overall pick. He leads a position that includes top-10 prospects in Michigan State’s Jaren Jackson Jr., Texas’ Mo Bamba and Duke’s Wendell Carter Jr. By Aaron Beard. UPCOMING: 675 words and photos by 3 p.m.

BKN–NBA DRAFT-HAWKS-TRADE TALKS

ATLANTA – With four picks in the top 34, including No. 3 overall, the Atlanta Hawks are in position to move up or down in Thursday’s NBA draft. GM Travis Schlenk says he’s getting a lot of calls but says there is space on the rebuilding Hawks roster to carry four rookies next season. By Charles Odum. UPCOMING: 550 words, file photos by 3 p.m.

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BKN–NBA DRAFT

NEW YORK – Luka Doncic may have the best resume in this year’s draft. He won a Euroleague championship and MVP award last season, and a European championship with Slovenia last summer. Sometime early Thursday night he’ll add to that resume when he becomes an NBA lottery pick. By Basketball Writer Brian Mahoney. UPCOMING: 700 words, photos.

– Sidebars on merit

THURSDAY, JUNE 21

BKN–NBA DRAFT

NEW YORK – The Phoenix Suns have the No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft, with big men Deandre Ayton, Marvin Bagley III and Michael Porter Jr. among the top prospects along with Luka Doncic, Jaren Jackson Jr. and Trae Young. By Basketball Writer Brian Mahoney. UPCOMING: 750 words, photos. Developing from 7 p.m. draft.

With:

– BKN–NBA DRAFT-THINGS TO KNOW. By Brian Mahoney. UPCOMING: 650 words, photos by 5 a.m. on draft day.

– BKN–NBA DRAFT-THE LATEST [url=http://www.dallascowboysteamonline.com/leighton-vander-esch-jersey]Authentic Leighton Vander Esch Jersey[/url] , real-time updates on draft day/night.

– Individual stories from each NBA team.

FRIDAY, JUNE 22

BKN–NBA DRAFT-HUERTER’S NIGHT

CLIFTON PARK, N.Y. – The Associated Press spends the NBA draft with early entrant Kevin Huerter, as he waits for the phone to ring and the next step in his basketball life to be decided. By Basketball Writer Tim Reynolds. UPCOMING: 750 words, photos, video planned by 6 p.m.

SENT PREVIOUSLY:

Features:

BKN–NBA DRAFT-THE INTERVIEW

CHICAGO – When teams are deciding who to take in the NBA draft, the off-court interview still carries enormous weight. What happens on the floor obviously is of great importance as well, but the half-hour chats at the draft combine might be just as critical to teams that need to choose which players merit multi-million-dollar investments. By Basketball Writer Tim Reynolds. SENT: 800 words, photos on June 18.

BKN–NBA DRAFT-UNDRAFTED LIFE

There’s going to be dozens of players left out in the cold at next week’s NBA draft [url=http://www.arizonadiamondbacksteamshop.com/authentic-jake-lamb-jersey]Jake Lamb Jersey[/url] , players who will not hear their names called by the time the night is over. Udonis Haslem knows how they’ll feel. Undrafted in 2002, Haslem – a Miami native who has spent his entire NBA career with his hometown Miami Heat – has been in the league longer than just about any other active player. Next season will be his 16th in the NBA. By Basketball Writer Tim Reynolds. SENT: 850 words, photos on June 14.

BKN–THE OFFSEASON

There are a slew of questions that need to be answered in the NBA this offseason. There’s the obvious one: What will LeBron James do? But there are plenty of others, including the future for Kawhi Leonard, the next moves for Chris Paul and Paul George, and whether the league has seen the last of Dwyane Wade. By Basketball Writer Tim Reynolds. SENT: 950 words, photos on June 9.

Profiles:

BKN–NBA DRAFT-PORTER

Someone is going to gamble on Michael Porter Jr., and he insists it’ll pay off. There is an element of danger involved with every NBA draft pick, in that nothing is guaranteed. There isn’t a player that epitomizes the risk versus reward thinking in this draft more than Porter Jr. [url=http://www.clevelandindiansteamshops.com/authentic-erik-gonzalez-jersey]Erik Gonzalez Jersey[/url] , who some think could get taken as high as No. 2 by Sacramento and others forecast could go several picks lower because of uncertainty surrounding his health. By Basketball Writer Tim Reynolds. SENT: 750 words, photos on June 17. [img]http://www.sndpic.com//nike_nfl_jerseys/nike_new_england_patriots/nike_patriots_1847.jpg[/img] BKN–NBA-DRAFT-DIVINCENZO

Donte DiVincenzo’s plan was to come out and test the NBA draft waters this spring, with the expectation that he would be returning to Villanova for another season. And then the national championship game happened. The hero of Villanova’s win over Michigan picked the perfect moment to play the game of his life. And the intrigue surrounding how his game might translate to the NBA has been growing since. By Basketball Writer Tim Reynolds. SENT: 750 words, photos on June 16.

BKN–NBA-DRAFT-ANTETOKOUNMPO

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That first-round series in 2009 provided valuable lessons to the veterans remaining in both dressing rooms. The eighth-seeded Ducks eliminated the top-seeded Sharks in six tempestuous games culminating in the Ducks’ clinching home victory, which began with Ryan Getzlaf and Joe Thornton dropping the gloves on the opening faceoff.

Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Francois Beauchemin are still around in Anaheim, while Thornton, Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Joe Pavelski are still in teal. When they drop the puck on another first-round meeting Thursday night at Honda Center [url=http://www.thepatriotsfootballauthentic.com/troy-niklas-jersey-authentic]Youth Troy Niklas Jersey[/url] , the veterans from both clubs will keep in mind what they’ve learned from many years of the playoff grind.

”We would have liked to probably handle that series a little better,” recalled Pavelski, now the Sharks’ captain. ”We were great in the regular season. Just never really got it going. This group understands we want to get off to a good start. If you get that first goal under your belt and play with the lead, more often than not it puts that other team under a little bit of pressure.”

Much has changed for both teams in the ensuing nine years, but this rivalry hasn’t cooled much. Getzlaf and Perry are still seeking their first Stanley Cup since 2007 [url=http://www.thechiefsfootballauthentic.com/breeland-speaks-jersey-authentic]Youth Breeland Speaks Jersey[/url] , while the Sharks are still waiting to raise it for the first time.

The 38-year-old Thornton is still in teal, but his right knee injury seems likely to keep him out for the first round. Anaheim has its own injury woes headlined by the shoulder problem of top defenseman Cam Fowler, who is expected to miss the series.

Here are more things to watch in the eighth playoff series between California teams in NHL history:

OPPOSITE DIRECTIONS?: The series opens in Orange County because of a tremendous late-season surge by the Ducks, who won their final five games to slide in front of San Jose for second place in the Pacific Division. Anaheim overcame its early-season injury problems and the late-season absence of goalie John Gibson to finish with 101 points to San Jose’s 100. The Sharks lost five of their final six regular-season games and gave away home-ice advantage on the final day of the regular season. Home ice typically doesn’t mean much in the postseason, but the Ducks have lost in regulation at Honda Center just once in 17 games since Jan. 23.

KANE’S CHANCE: Evander Kane provided a big spark for San Jose after being acquired from Buffalo at the trade deadline with nine goals and five assists in 17 games. Kane’s reward for his strong play is his first trip to the playoffs nine seasons into his career. Kane never got a shot at the postseason with Atlanta [url=http://www.thecoltsfootballauthentic.com/kemoko-turay-jersey-authentic]Youth Kemoko Turay Jersey[/url] , Winnipeg or Buffalo, but believes his style of play is conducive to this time of year.

”I’ve said it in the past: I think I’m a playoff player,” he said. ”I’ve watched the playoffs and when I look at the style of play and it’s something I was jealous because I wasn’t involved in it. Now I get that opportunity and I have to back those words up.”

SCORING D: Sharks coach Peter DeBoer has put a priority on getting offense from their defense and it paid off this season with San Jose ranking third in the NHL with 199 points from the blue line. The offense didn’t just come from last year’s Norris Trophy winner Brent Burns, with a team record five defensemen in all scoring at least 20 points, including a career-high 33 points from Justin Braun and a career-best 11 goals from Vlasic.

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SPECIAL TEAMS: The Sharks power-play has been a bit of a roller coaster this season. San Jose converted just 14.5 percent of its chances with the man advantage over the first 18 games before things started to click. The Sharks scored on 28.9 percent of their chances over the next 29 games before falling back into a rut after Thornton injured his knee. The power play slumped late in the year, converting at a rate of 16.5 percent over the last 35 games. The penalty kill was much more consistent, ranking second in the league at 84.8 percent for the season. [img]http://www.sndpic.com//nike_nfl_jerseys/nike_tampa_bay_buccaneers/nike_buccaneers_685.jpg[/img] —

AP Sports Writer Josh Dubow in San Jose contributed to this report.

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LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles Kings are facing a must-win scenario in Game 3 of their first-round Stanley Cup Playoffs series against the Vegas Golden Knights at Staples Center on Sunday night.

The Kings wasted a record-setting performance by goaltender Jonathan Quick in their 2-1 double-overtime loss Friday night at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. With the Kings down three of their regular defenseman including Drew Doughty [url=http://www.thevikingsfootballauthentic.com/jalyn-holmes-jersey-authentic]Youth Jalyn Holmes Jersey[/url] , who was suspended for a hit on Vegas’ William Carrier in Game 1, Quick stopped 54 shots to set a franchise record for most saves in a playoff game.

It was all for naught as Erik Haula ended the match at 15:23 of the second overtime to give Vegas a 2-0 series lead. Paul La Due registered his first career playoff goal with a power play tally for Los Angeles.

Despite entering the series with an advantage at the center position with veterans Anze Kopitar and Jeff Carter, Los Angeles has been stifled by the Golden Knights tenacity and speed. Vegas has prevented traffic in front of goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, allowing him to see the Kings’ attempts, limiting the number of dangerous opportunities at the Golden Knights net.

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Los Angeles coach John Stevens minimized the tough double-overtime loss by saying his team now has to replicate what Vegas did in winning its first two home games.

“There’s momentum in a series,” Stevens said. “You can lose 7-0 the first night like the Philadelphia Flyers did and come back to win and it’s still 1-1. They won two games at home, a lot of people would say they’re supposed to win at home.

“Vegas has been a good team at home all year, so now we get to go home and get to work. It’s not devastating. We come in here to win a hockey game and we didn’t win. Because of double overtime, you just expend a lot of energy. It doesn’t matter if you win in regulation or in quadruple overtime. It still counts as one.”

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“They are a speedy, highly skilled team,” Carter said. “They have no holes in their games and we need to be far better to create chances.”

The Kings will be boosted by the return of the former Norris Trophy winner Doughty and a possible return by another veteran defenseman in Jake Muzzin, who missed the first two games with an upper-body injury.

With Vegas in command of the series, coach Gerard Gallant expects Los Angeles’ best game of the series as his team attempts to put a stranglehold on their inaugural postseason series and wonders what effect the double-overtime affair will have on both teams.

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Jacoby Ellsbury, out all season with a number of injuries including an oblique strain and sore back, still has not resumed baseball activities. The Yankees haven’t completely ruled out Ellsbury playing this season but Boone had ”no clue” when the outfielder might be back.

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Minnesota’s home win Monday night clinched their postseason spot. For Anaheim, the playoffs are not yet confirmed.

The Ducks (41-25-13) have gained two consecutive overtime wins to move into the top wild-card spot. They are two points ahead of Colorado with a game in hand and trail Los Angeles by one point for third place in the Pacific Division.

On Friday, Anaheim bested the Kings 2-1. On Sunday, the Ducks defeated the Avalanche 4-3. Ryan Miller earned the victory Sunday after he came in to begin the second period for starter John Gibson, who was shaken up late in the first period. The Ducks’ goaltending tandem made 28 saves.

Anaheim defenseman Cam Fowler also was hurt in the contest. He will be out two to six weeks, the team announced on Tuesday.

“(Gibson and Fowler) are both big parts of our hockey club,” Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf. “We dealt with a lot of injuries (at) the start of the season and throughout the year. The one thing we do have is experience with our young players. We’re going to look to some of them to step up and fill some of those minutes.”

Minnesota (44-25-10) finished March with points in seven of eight games. The Wild posted a 3-0 win over Edmonton on Monday night. Devan Dubnyk stopped 22 shots to gain the shutout. He is among the league leaders with five shutouts this season [url=http://www.thecoltsfootballauthentic.com/darius-leonard-jersey-authentic]Youth Darius Leonard Jersey[/url] , three behind league leader Pekka Rinne of Nashville.

The win allowed Minnesota to secure their sixth consecutive playoff appearance.

Zach Parise had the first two Minnesota goals in the victory over the Oilers. The first came on a broken play that turned into a two-on-one. Parise kept the puck and fired it low past Cam Talbot.

“You want to get the early one, get the lead, play with the lead … to get one early, get the crowd into it, get our team going, it was important to us,” Parise said.

The Wild will play out the season without stalwart defenseman Ryan Suter. He sustained a fractured fibula Saturday versus Dallas. Defenseman Jared Spurgeon is also injured [url=http://www.thejaguarsfootballauthentic.com/taven-bryan-jersey-authentic]Youth Taven Bryan Jersey[/url] , though coach Bruce Boudreau said Monday that he would be ready for the playoffs, according to media reports. Both are listed as day-to-day on injured reserve, as is defenseman Gustav Olofsson.

“When Suter’s out, I feel like maybe I have to step up, and same with (Matt Dumba),” Minnesota defenseman Jonas Brodin said. “We played pretty good (Monday). We played a lot against McDavid, that line [url=http://www.thechiefsfootballauthentic.com/dorian-o_daniel-jersey-authentic]Youth Dorian O'Daniel Jersey[/url] , so I think we did a great job (to) shut the line down, but I think the whole D corps did a great job today.”

Added Parise: “Ryan’s a tough guy to replace, but they did a good job all over the ice, made smart plays and simple plays and did a good job, especially against their top line.”

Carson Soucy made his NHL debut on defense versus Edmonton after being called up from Iowa of the AHL on Sunday.

The Ducks are 7-2-1 in their last 10 games. They fell behind 3-1 to the Avalanche but scored two goals in 96 seconds in the third period to tie the game. Ondrej Kase powered in the overtime winner with an assist from Getzlaf.

The Ducks are getting strong performance from their second line. Against Colorado, Andrew Cogliano had one goal and one assist, Ryan Kesler scored a goal and Jakob Silfverberg had two assists. Kesler also had two minor penalties. Anaheim is among the most penalized teams in the NHL. Minnesota is mid-pack in the NHL in power play percentage.

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“We’re going to have to probably move some (defensive) pairs around a little bit,” Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said. “There will be some mix and match on the back end, more so than to say we’re going to put one guy in and he’s going to take Fowler’s spot. That’s not fair to the people vying for that position.

“The best thing we can do is put a game plan in place and mix and match our pairs. Play the right way and do a lot of things we’ve been doing for long stretches.”

Following Wednesday’s game, Minnesota stays on the road to end its regular season. The Wild play at Los Angeles on Thursday night and then move on to battle San Jose on Saturday evening.

The Ducks host Dallas at home Friday and travel to Arizona Saturday to wrap up their regular season.

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Smith joined the Redskins from the Kansas City Chiefs in exchange for a third-round pick and cornerback Kendall Fuller. The deal and Smith’s subsequent four-year contract extension were agreed to in February but couldn’t become official until Wednesday’s start of the new league year.

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”I have a tremendous amount of respect for Alex and what he was able to accomplish with us these past five seasons,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. ”He put every ounce of energy into making our football team better and I appreciate his leadership and how he came to work with the right attitude every day.”

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AP Sports Writer Dave Skretta contributed.

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So, when the Miami Marlins take on Greinke (7-5, 3.66 ERA) and the Diamondbacks on Thursday in the final contest of a four-game series at Marlins Park, they will be facing one of the majors’ most familiar pitchers yet one they’ve never quite seen before.

“It’s been working really good this year,” Greinke told reporters after he pitched six shutout innings in a 7-2 Diamondbacks victory Saturday in Pittsburgh. “I don’t know how long it will last for [url=http://www.newenglandpatriotsteamonline.com/jason-mccourty-jersey]Authentic Jason McCourty Jersey[/url] , but it’s been working good. I didn’t throw any harder curves, where I think the whole year, I’ve kind of done both. But my harder one gets hit usually. So, I started throwing only the slow ones.”

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The Diamondbacks could not have received a much better performance Wednesday from left-hander Robbie Ray as they beat Miami 2-1 and improved to 7-2 on their 10-game road trip. Ray, out since April 29 with an oblique injury, allowed two hits over six shutout innings while making 83 pitches.

Daniel Descalso hit a key pinch-hit homer for the Diamondbacks in the eighth inning to make it 2-0, and reliever Yoshihisa Hirano tied a club record by making his 24th consecutive scoreless relief outing, throwing a scoreless seventh inning.

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The Diamondbacks can win the four-game series if they take the Thursday matinee behind Greinke, whose velocity is down the last few seasons — his four-seam fastball maxed out at 90.7 mph in Pittsburgh.

He once threw consistently in the mid-90s. But when he mixes in an eephus pitch-like curveball that doesn’t even reach 68 mph, it makes his fastball look all that much harder. And he threw 12 of them against the Pirates.

Still, after Pirates rookie Austin Meadows barely missed homering on Greinke’s final super-slow curveball of the day, the right-hander said, “It might have been running its course. So maybe 12 times was too many.”

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They began the season 24-11, then dropped 15 of 17 to fall to .500 at 26-26 but have since won 20 of 28 and six of seven.

Greinke has been especially tough on the Marlins during his career, going 6-0 with a 3.53 ERA against them in 11 games (10 starts). He last faced them June 2, limiting them to one run on seven hits in 6 2/3 innings, striking out six and walking one while earning the victory in a 6-2 Diamondbacks win. Castro hits him well, going 9-of-25 with a home run and four doubles.

The first-place Diamondbacks return home following the contest to begin a three-game weekend series against the NL West rival San Francisco Giants.

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He outdueled the great Tom Brady to do it.

”Being a part of this and being drafted to Philadelphia, and being fortunate enough to come back and be a part of this team, to be a piece of this puzzle, I mean, it’s been a long time coming and I know there’s going to be a lot of celebrating tonight,” Foles said.

Foles, who took over when Carson Wentz injured his right knee in mid-December, matched Brady, the five-time champion and three-time MVP, big play for big play Sunday in leading the Eagles past the New England Patriots 41-33 .

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That drive lasted a tick more than seven minutes and kept Brady cooling his cleats on the sideline while allowing the Eagles’ exhausted defenders to catch their collective breath in a game that featured 1,151 total yards, the most in any NFL game in the Super Bowl era.

That meant the world when Brady got the ball back and Brandon Graham swept in and jarred the ball loose for the game’s lone sack. Derek Barnett smothered it at the 31 with just over two minutes remaining, and Jake Elliott’s 46-yard field goal, the longest in a Super Bowl by a rookie, made it an eight-point cushion.

It also gave Brady just a minute to work his magic.

He started at his 9 with 58 seconds remaining and drove the Patriots to midfield before time ran out on New England as a desperation pass fell in the end zone.

Foles searched out Brady, but never did find him in all the chaos and confetti.

”I didn’t get to see Tom. I was looking for Tom. It got pretty crazy really fast,” Foles said. ”I mean, he’s one of the greatest of all time. He’s been unbelievable. He was unbelievable tonight. I can’t say enough about him.”

Brady threw for more yards – a playoff career-high 505 to Foles’ 373 – but Foles matched Brady’s three touchdown tosses and even caught another .

He hauled in tight end Trey Burton’s toss from the 1 that gave Philadelphia a 22-12 halftime edge and made him the first player in Super Bowl history to be on both ends of a touchdown pass in the same game.

Brady nearly beat him to it.

Although wide open, the ambling Brady couldn’t quite haul in receiver Danny Amendola’s high pass for what would have been a nifty over-the-shoulder reception which might have gone all 35 yards for the score.

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”You’ve to catch the ball when you’re supposed to catch the ball,” she fumed. ”My husband cannot … throw the ball and catch the ball at the same time.”

Nor could he haul in Amendola’s throw early in the second quarter with New England trailing 9-3.

Foles had never caught a pass in the NFL before his TD grab.

His only interception was a fluke, but it did help Brady and the Patriots staunch an early stumble to stay in it until the very end.

Foles was 28 of 43 and wasn’t sacked. Brady was 28 of 48, and while he didn’t throw any interceptions, his only sack was a doozy.

A third-round pick by former Eagles coach Andy Reid in 2012, Foles had tremendous success as a starter under Chip Kelly his sophomore season. He threw 29 TDs and two picks in 11 starts, including playoffs in 2013. Foles posted a passer rating of 119.2, third-highest in league history. He tied an NFL record with seven TD passes in a game at Oakland in November 2013 and won an offensive MVP award at a Pro Bowl.

But Foles was traded to St. Louis for Sam Bradford in March 2015. He lost his starting job to Case Keenum and asked for his release after Jared Goff was drafted No. 1 overall when the Rams relocated to Los Angeles. Foles even considered hanging up his cleats before Reid persuaded him to go to Kansas City to be Alex Smith’s backup.

”As people we deal with struggles and that was a moment in my life where I thought about it, I prayed about it,” Foles said of quitting. ”And I’m grateful that I made a decision to come back and play.”

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Now he’s a folk hero for a franchise that had gone 0 for 2 in Super Bowls, and for a legion of fans who were rooting for anybody other than the Patriots.

”Just to be in this moment,” Foles said, shaking his head. ”Unbelievable.”

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The end of the series, season and maybe his second stint in Cleveland, are near.

The Golden State Warriors have made his eighth straight NBA Finals – and their seasonal rivalry with the Cavaliers – very one-sided.

Still weary and wrestling with emotions after losing Game 3 on Wednesday night, when Kevin Durant scored 43 points and shot the Warriors within one win of their third title in four years, James pointed out Thursday what has become terrifyingly obvious.

The Warriors are at another level. And may be for a while.

”Obviously, from a talent perspective, if you’re looking at Golden State from their top five best players to our top five players, you would say they’re stacked better than us. Let’s just speak truth [url=http://www.chicagocubsteamshops.com/authentic-steve-cishek-jersey]Steve Cishek Jersey[/url] ,” James said before rattling off Golden State’s embarrassment of riches.

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”Then you add on a Finals MVP coming off the bench (Andre Iguodala), a No. 1 pick in (Shawn) Livingston and an All-Star in David West and whatever the case may be. So they have a lot of talent.”

Too much, it seems, for these Cavs.

James wasn’t making excuses for Cleveland’s postseason pickle because if not for a reversed official’s call or J.R. Smith’s brain-lock in the closing seconds of regulation in Game 1 or Durant’s brilliance in Game 3, the Cavs could be leading the series.

The three-time champion [url=http://www.indianapoliscoltsteamonline.com/nyheim-hines-jersey]Authentic Nyheim Hines Jersey[/url] , though, was being open and honest about the Cavs’ chances to become the first team to overcome a 3-0 deficit in the playoffs.

To this point, 131 have tried, and 131 have failed.

”We’ve been in a position where we could win two out of these three games,” said James, who had 33 points and his 10th Finals triple-double in Game 3. ”So what do we have to do? Do we have to make more shots? Is it we have to have our minds into it a little bit more? Is it if there is a ball on the ground we can’t reach for it but you’ve got to dive for it?”

Those were today’s relevant questions. Tomorrow, they’ll be different ones if the Warriors, who have dealt with adversity all season [url=http://www.saintscheapshops.com/cheap-authentic-marcus-davenport-jersey]Cheap Marcus Davenport Jersey[/url] , sweep the Cavs.

James is headed toward free agency and then where: Los Angeles? Philadelphia? Houston?

Or will he decide it’s too painful to part again with Cleveland, his basketball home for 11 seasons and just up the highway from his actual home in Akron?

The 33-year-old plans to consider everything once the season ends, but he offered some clues about what he’ll consider before making his next move, a decision that will dwarf any other NBA news in July. James also laid out a potential blueprint for the Cavs to follow if they want to keep him.

Bottom line: James needs better, smarter teammates.

No player in the league understands the current climate better than James, who formed a super-team in Miami with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh and won two NBA titles before returning to Cleveland and joining forces with All-Stars Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving. The Cavs’ reign lasted only one year, destroyed by Durant’s shocking departure from Oklahoma City for the 73-win Warriors, a team he couldn’t beat but was glad to join.

James said his decision to bolt from the Cavs the first time was simple.

”I knew that my talent level here in Cleveland couldn’t succeed getting past a Boston [url=http://www.seattlemarinersteamshop.com/authentic-guillermo-heredia-jersey]Guillermo Heredia Jersey[/url] , getting past the San Antonios of the league or whatever the case may be,” he said.

But beyond the talent disparity, James said the key to winning a championship is ”you’ve got to be very cerebral too.”

James then explained what it takes to be the last team standing, and in the process seemed to take a swipe at unnamed current and former teammates.

”So now everyone is trying to figure that out,” he said. ”How do you put together a group of talent but also a group of minds to be able to compete with Golden State, to be able to compete for a championship? That’s what GMs and presidents and certain players, it’s not every player. Every player does not want to – sad to say – but every player doesn’t want to compete for a championship and be in a position where every possession is pressure.”[img]http://www.sndpic.com//nike_nfl_jerseys/nike_seattle_seahawks/nike_seahawks_694.jpg[/img]

Months of weight will lifted off him once the Warriors, who haven’t lost four straight games since 2013 [url=http://www.redskinscheapshops.com/cheap-authentic-geron-christian-jersey]Cheap Geron Christian Jersey[/url] , are crowned again.

This series has been a painful reminder to James that the great teams have more than one king.

”When you make mistakes they make you pay,” he said, ”because they’re already more talented than you are but they also have the minds behind it, too, and they also have the championship DNA.”

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Keon Broxton has made challenging plays look routine for the Milwaukee Brewers.

The center fielder’s latest gem may have been his best one yet.

Broxton helped preserve a lead in the ninth [url=http://www.minnesotavikingsteamonline.com/mike-hughes-jersey]Authentic Mike Hughes Jersey[/url] , rookie Nate Orf hit a solo homer in Milwaukee’s two-run seventh and the Brewers beat the sliding Minnesota Twins 3-2 on Wednesday.

Broxton was on deck when Orf went deep two batters after Brad Miller hit a solo shot off Jose Berrios (8-7) to lead off the bottom of the seventh. It was Orf’s first career hit after coming up empty in his first seven at-bats.

Just a couple weeks ago, Broxton and Orf were also teammates at Triple-A Colorado Springs.

”Yeah I think I’m more excited about Orf’s home run,” Broxton said with a smile.

The Miller Park crowd was just as deliriously happy with Broxton’s catch. He ran full speed back to the wall and jumped with an outstretched glove to rob Brian Dozier of a homer for the second out in the ninth.

Broxton, filling in for the injured Lorenzo Cain [url=http://www.redskinscheapshops.com/cheap-authentic-derrius-guice-jersey]Cheap Derrius Guice Jersey[/url] , also made a tough catch at the angled part of the wall in center in a 6-5 win over Minnesota on Friday. He made a diving grab in the ninth last week to preserve a win at Cincinnati.

But manager Craig Counsell said Broxton’s latest catch was ”special … that one, he was on the run and had to time everything absolutely perfectly.”

The play prevented a rocky ninth for Corey Knebel from getting any worse. Eduardo Escobar hit his 13th homer and Jorge Polanco singled with two out, but Max Kepler flied to left to end the game. Knebel picked up his 10th save.

The Twins closed out a 1-8 road trip with their sixth consecutive loss.

”Frustrating. Dozier hits that ball and they made a heck of a play on that ball and then (Escobar) goes deep,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said.

BIG HIT

Jesus Aguilar and Manny Pina lifted Orf up by his legs at the dugout steps to help the rookie answer a plea for a curtain call from a vocal crowd following his homer in the seventh.

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ON THE MOUND[img]http://www.sndpic.com//nike_nfl_jerseys/nike_seattle_seahawks/nike_seahawks_694.jpg[/img]

Jeremy Jeffress (6-1) picked up the win despite allowing Dozier to score from third on Jorge Polanco’s bloop single to left for a 1-all tie in the top of the seventh. The hit snapped a stretch of 20 1/3 scoreless innings for Minnesota against the Brewers.

Berrios allowed five hits, struck out three and walked two in seven innings. He got little support from Minnesota’s punchless offense, which managed just three hits in the first 6 1/3 innings against Chase Anderson.

”I feel mad. As a pitcher [url=http://www.clevelandindiansteamshops.com/authentic-edwin-encarnacion-jersey]Edwin Encarnacion Jersey[/url] , I never want to lose,” Berrios said. ”We had a chance to win the game and then they hit me for two homers. So I don’t like that.”

MAUER MILESTONE

Twins first baseman Joe Mauer got his 414th career double in the fourth inning, matching Hall of Famer Kirby Puckett for the franchise record.

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”Yeah, that whole play [url=http://www.losangelesdodgersteamshop.com/authentic-mike-piazza-jersey]Mike Piazza Jersey[/url] , I think it was the best play I’ve ever made.” – Broxton on his ninth-inning catch.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Twins: Two-time All-Star RHP Ervin Santana (right middle finger surgery) is scheduled to make his next rehab appearance on Thursday at Class A Fort Myers. … Molitor said utility player Taylor Motter (concussion symptoms) is on a ”pretty good track” to return from the 7-day disabled list on Friday.

Brewers: OF Christian Yelich went 1 for 4 after being held out of the starting lineup for five games with lower back tightness. … Counsell said it’s a ”pretty good sign” that Cain (left groin) is running the bases. ”We are close, we’re just not there yet,” the skipper said.

UP NEXT

Twins: RHP Aaron Slegers will be recalled from Triple-A Rochester to start the opener of a four-game series on Thursday against the Baltimore Orioles. Slegers, who has made one appearance this season in the big leagues [url=http://www.indianapoliscoltsteamonline.com/darius-leonard-jersey]Authentic Darius Leonard Jersey[/url] , is 5-6 with a 3.55 ERA in 14 starts in the minors. Left-handed reliever Gabriel Moya was optioned to Triple-A to open a roster spot.

Brewers: RHP Jhoulys Chacin (6-3) opens a four-game series against the visiting Atlanta Braves. Chacin is 1-4 with a 3.94 ERA in six career starts against Atlanta.

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Even as the Philadelphia 76ers exceeded expectations this season [url=http://www.houstonastrosteamshops.com/authentic-andy-pettitte-jersey]Andy Pettitte Jersey[/url] , those who have indeed trusted the process still could not have imagined the team’s quick ascension to the NBA’s elite.

Joel Embiid, for one, isn’t about to pump the brakes on what has been a whirlwind ride that has the 76ers heading into their Game 5 home matchup on Tuesday sporting a 3-1 lead over the visiting Miami Heat.

“A lot of people say we have a bright future,” said Embiid, whose 76ers host the Heat at 8 p.m. Tuesday at Wells Fargo Center. “But I think our time is now. We have a special team and I feel like now we have a pretty good chance to go forward.”

Speaking of the now: With their backs against the wall, the Heat are not flailing their arms wildly [url=http://www.pantherscheapshop.com/cheap-authentic-rashaan-gaulden-jersey]Cheap Rashaan Gaulden Jersey[/url] , looking for any target.

They are pointedly focused on the present: Game 5 and the 76ers.

“It’s not necessarily us against the world,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “It’s us against the Philadelphia 76ers. We have to find a way to finish games. They’ve really nailed us in the fourth quarters of all four games, except the one we were able to pull away. We just have to do better. Through three quarters, we’ve been up. It’s going to require a full 48-minute game of our absolute best effort.”

Miami has been outscored by Philadelphia by an astounding 42 points in just the fourth quarters through four games. Even in the Heat’s 113-103 Game 2 win at Philadelphia, the 76ers still outscored Miami 28-27 in the fourth quarter.

In a roundabout way, that Game 2 loss — which snapped Philadelphia’s 17-game winning streak — actually gave 76ers coach Brett Brown some much-needed locker room material heading into the game.

“Everybody’s trying to break somebody’s spirit [url=http://www.carolinapanthersteamonline.com/marquis-haynes-jersey]Authentic Marquis Haynes Jersey[/url] ,” Brown said Monday. “It’s always the same thing. It happens on the other side of it. And I know (Spoelstra), who is a great coach, would be in his locker room saying, ‘All we got to do is win a game and come home.’

“They’re going to live in a really isolated, sort of roomed-in world of, ‘Let’s just win a game. We won a game last time we were here [url=http://www.49erscheapshops.com/cheap-authentic-kentavius-street-jersey]Cheap Kentavius Street Jersey[/url] , and just come home and figure it out.’ You can see it.” [img]http://www.sndpic.com//nike_nfl_jerseys/nike_washington_redskins/nike_redskins_593.jpg[/img] Knowing his team can close out a hungry opponent on Tuesday, Brown isn’t changing his message too much.

“My intention is not to speak anything into existence,” Brown said. “It’s all about trying help the team win. Like, we want to get better. We’re gonna. We’re going to go into Tuesday night and we’re going to get better. I believe that if we think like that, act like that, coach like that [url=http://www.thedolphinsfootballauthentic.com/jason-sanders-jersey-authentic]Youth Jason Sanders Jersey[/url] , then the habit becomes, I hope, we’re going to win.”

J.J. Redick, no stranger to heated playoff series, echoed his coach’s thoughts on Monday.

In Game 4, Redick led the 76ers with 24 points en route to a 106-102 win in a game that Philadelphia trailed by four after three quarters.

“You’re feeling each other out and then later on in the series you have to deliver a crushing blow [url=http://www.thebrownsfootballauthentic.com/baker-mayfield-jersey-authentic]Youth Baker Mayfield Jersey[/url] ,” Redick said. “You have to finish that. A team like Miami, their culture, their organization, their group of guys, they have fighters. They have warriors on their team. Every game in this series has been tough and there’s no indication that Game 5 will be different. It’s going to be a tough game.”

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Mitch Marner had a goal and an assist to extend his point streak to 10 games and the Toronto Maple Leafs beat the Florida Panthers 4-3 on Wednesday night to set a franchise record with their 46th win.

Toronto also set a high-water mark with its 27th home win and can clinch a playoff spot if the Philadelphia Flyers lose in regulation to the Colorado Avalanche later Wednesday.

James van Riemsdyk added his 35th goal – and the 200th career – for Toronto [url=http://www.vikingscheapshops.com/cheap-authentic-mike-remmers-jersey]Authentic Mike Remmers Jersey[/url] , while Auston Matthews and Patrick Marleau added their 30th and 25th goals, respectively.

Frederik Andersen made 30 saves and set a career high with his 36th victory.

Jonathan Huberdeau scored twice, and Evgenii Dadonov also scored for Florida [url=http://www.clevelandindiansteamshops.com/authentic-eddie-robinson-jersey]Eddie Robinson Jersey[/url] , which got 31 stops from Roberto Luongo, including a couple of big ones early.

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WASHINGTON (AP) – Evgeny Kuznetsov scored 38 seconds into overtime to help Washington move closer to its fourth consecutive playoff appearance.

Kuznetsov’s goal came after Washington’s Lars Eller tied it with 1:05 left in the third period with goaltender Braden Holtby pulled for an extra attacker. Holtby stopped 35 of the 37 shots he faced to look more like the Vezina Trophy winner than he had shown in recent months.

Andre Burakovsky also scored for Washington, which has won five in a row and leads the Metropolitan Division. Henrik Lundqvist made 30 saves for the Rangers in his first career game with no playoff implications.

Kevin Hayes and Ryan Spooner scored New York’s goals as it outshot Washington 37-33 in its first contest since being eliminated from the playoff hunt.

FLYERS 2, AVALANCHE 1

DENVER (AP) – Ivan Provorov had a goal and an assist [url=http://www.49erscheapshops.com/cheap-authentic-fred-warner-jersey]Cheap Fred Warner Jersey[/url] , Petr Mrazek stopped all 17 shots he faced in relief of starter Michal Neuvirth and Philadelphia held off Colorado.

Claude Giroux also scored as the Flyers climbed into third place in the Metropolitan Division. They’re tied in points (92) with second-place Pittsburgh, with the Penguins currently holding the tiebreaker.

Philadelphia looked crisp early – scoring both goals in the first period – despite losing in overtime at Dallas a night earlier. Neuvirth turned back 10 shots in his first game since suffering a lower-body injury on Feb. 18, but he exited the game midway through the second period for an undisclosed reason.

Matt Nieto scored for an Avalanche team that’s on the outside of the playoff picture with five games remaining. Andrew Hammond had 31 saves during an emergency start for Semyon Varlamov [url=http:/[img]http://www.sndpic.com//nike_nfl_jerseys/nike_washington_redskins/nike_redskins_698.jpg[/img]/www.giantscheapshops.com/cheap-authentic-saquon-barkley-jersey]Authentic Saquon Barkley Jersey[/url] , who was sidelined by an illness.

COYOTES 3, GOLDEN KNIGHTS 2

LAS VEGAS (AP) – Kevin Connauton scored twice to lead Arizona over Vegas.

It marked Arizona’s first victory over the expansion Golden Knights in the teams’ fifth and final game this season.

Richard Panik also scored for the Coyotes, and Antti Raanta improved to 18-16-6 by making 27 saves.

Erik Haula and Alex Tuch scored for the playoff-bound Golden Knights. Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 29 shots.

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The ”Honey Badger” is leaving the desert.

The Arizona Cardinals released one of the team’s most popular players [url=http://www.cowboyscheapshop.com/cheap-authentic-bo-scarbrough-jersey]Cheap Bo Scarbrough Jersey[/url] , safety Tyrann Mathieu, on Wednesday after the two sides couldn’t rework his contract.

Mathieu was due for $18.75 million of his contract to be guaranteed when the league year officially begins. By cutting him [url=http://www.bostonredsoxteamshop.com/authentic-jimmie-foxx-jersey]Jimmie Foxx Jersey[/url] , Arizona will save close to $5 million in cap space.[img]http://www.sndpic.com//nike_nfl_jerseys/nike_dallas_cowboys/nike_cowboys_3508.jpg[/img]

Mathieu became a star in the Arizona secondary and a fiery leader of the defense after being selected in the third round of the 2013 draft following a troubled college career at LSU. He was an All-Pro in 2015, when he had five interceptions and 17 passes defensed.

But he also has been plagued by injuries and only last season did Mathieu appear in all 16 games.

”I’ve never made a secret that Tyrann has always had a special place in my heart and always will [url=http://www.washingtonredskinsteamonline.com/jonathan-allen-jersey]Authentic Jonathan Allen Jersey[/url] ,” Cardinals general manager Steve Keim said in a statement announcing the release. ”While we all understand this is a part of the business, that certainly doesn’t make it any easier. We all wish Tyrann nothing but continued success in his career and beyond.”

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Golden State All-Star guard Klay Thompson expects to play in Game 2 of the NBA Finals after spraining his left ankle in a scary fall during a collision when Cleveland’s J.R. Smith slid into him in the first quarter of the series opener Thursday night.

”It is a Finals game [url=http://www.bengalscheapshop.com/cheap-authentic-billy-price-jersey]Cheap Billy Price Jersey[/url] , and I’m going to do everything I possibly can to play,” he said. ”It’s something you definitely don’t want to have in the NBA championship.”

The Warriors listed Thompson as questionable for Sunday’s second game with a bruise in his left leg, though Thompson offered more specifics Saturday after practice. He didn’t do much work on the floor and limped to his media availability at Oracle Arena.

Thompson said he is in more pain: ”It’s not good. From watching that replay [url=http://www.the49ersfootballauthentic.com/jonathan-cooper-jersey-authentic]Youth Jonathan Cooper Jersey[/url] , it pissed me off.” Yet Thompson did receive some kind words from Smith.

”Yeah, he was remorseful, so I don’t think he meant to do it [url=http://www.milwaukeebrewersteamshop.com/authentic-paul-molitor-jersey]Paul Molitor Jersey[/url] ,” Thompson said.

Thompson grabbed at his lower left leg and grimaced in pain, a frightening moment for the defending champions.

He said the pain level and swelling increased overnight into Saturday, when he was working to get it loose and eliminate some of the stiffness.

Thompson briefly went to the locker room during the game then returned and finished with 24 points and five 3-pointers on 8-for-16 shooting in the Warriors’ 124-114 overtime victory. [img]http://www.sndpic.com//nike_nfl_jerseys/nike_seattle_seahawks/nike_seahawks_362.jpg[/img] ”I was just trying to go for the ball. It looked like an opportunity for me to get a steal. Unfortunately [url=http://www.thepackersfootballauthentic.com/jaire-alexander-jersey-authentic]Youth Jaire Alexander Jersey[/url] , I didn’t. I fouled him,” Smith said Saturday. ”They called the foul. I don’t know what more he was looking for.”

Thompson grew up playing multiple sports with his brothers and has said he has a high tolerance for pain.

”My ankle’s just sore,” he said. ”It’s stiff at the moment [url=http://www.newyorkyankeesteamshop.com/authentic-jorge-posada-jersey]Jorge Posada Jersey[/url] , but I’m going to do what I can in these next 24 hours or so to loosen it up as much as possible, get some stability back. I’m optimistic for tomorrow. So that’s the hard part of the game we all have to endure. Got to let it go. It happens. I’ve just got to move on.”

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Wednesday was already going to be a bullpen day for the Tampa Bay Rays [url=http://www.clevelandindiansteamshops.com/authentic-b.j.-upton-jersey]B.J. Upton Jersey[/url] , and Tuesday’s 16-inning, 9-6 victory over the Miami Marlins only adds to that, with one or two Rays relievers expected to be added to help provide fresh arms.

The five-hour, 31-minute marathon further taxed the bullpen for Tampa Bay (43-42), with Matt Andriese expected to start Wednesday in Miami after the teams played extra-inning games in the first two contests of the three-game series.

The Rays, continuing their strategy of using relievers as starters [url=http://www.vikingscheapshops.com/cheap-authentic-mike-hughes-jersey]Authentic Mike Hughes Jersey[/url] , scrapped a scheduled start by Ryne Stanek for the second day in a row, opting to use him in extra innings Monday and Tuesday instead of opening the following day.

Stanek was originally scheduled to start Tuesday, but came in for the 10th inning Monday night. He walked the first batter and then gave up two hits, taking the loss without recording an out to briefly give himself an infinite ERA for his career against the Marlins.

He was then slated to start Wednesday, but came in and pitched the 12th inning Tuesday night, striking out the side to push the game to the 13th inning. He added another scoreless frame [url=http://www.bostonredsoxteamshop.com/authentic-carl-yastrzemski-jersey]Carl Yastrzemski Jersey[/url] , but that took him out of his scheduled role Wednesday, putting more work on an overused bullpen. Nine pitchers were used in Tuesday’s win, requiring at least one roster move just to supply enough live arms to get through Wednesday’s series finale.

Miami used eight pitchers Tuesday, so the Marlins may need to add a reliever for short-term relief as well, under much the same circumstances.

Andriese (1-3, 3.86 ERA) will start two days after he pitched two innings Monday against the Marlins [url=http://www.pantherscheapshop.com/cheap-authentic-donte-jackson-jersey]Cheap Donte Jackson Jersey[/url] , limiting them to one hit and no runs. That outing came after two straight appearances where he gave up three runs each, raising his season ERA from 3.27 to 4.02.

Andriese will make his fourth start of the season Wednesday, and[img]http://www.sndpic.com//nike_nfl_jerseys/nike_seattle_seahawks/nike_seahawks_3661.jpg[/img] has handled the Marlins well in his career, with a 1-0 record and 1.69 ERA career appearances against them, including a seven-inning scoreless gem last season.

Miami will start Jose Urena (2-9, 4.40) [url=http://www.atlantabravesteamShop.com/authentic-dale-murphy-jersey]Dale Murphy Jersey[/url] , who is slowly bouncing back from a rough first two months of the season. Urena did not get any wins in his first 12 starts, but is 2-2 since and is just now returning from a stint on the disabled list with right shoulder impingement.

Urena had his best outing of the season two starts ago, going eight scoreless innings and holding Baltimore to three hits while getting the win June 15. He wasn’t as fortunate five days later, lasting 5 2/3 innings and giving up five runs and eight hits in a loss to the Giants.

Urena has never started against the Rays, but carries a 1.59 career ERA in six relief appearances, including five scoreless innings in 2015-16 [url=http://www.coloradorockiesteamshop.com/authentic-kyle-freeland-jersey]Kyle Freeland Jersey[/url] , against Tampa Bay. He pitched well last season, winning 14 games and finishing with a 3.82 ERA.

After this series, the Rays move on to New York for a three-game series with the Mets, while the Marlins go to Washington for a four-game series against the Nationals.

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Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman earned accolades for making the boldest moves in improving Tampa Bay’s Stanley Cup aspirations at the NHL’s trade deadline in February.

Evander Kane [url=http://www.milwaukeebrewersteamshop.com/authentic-yovani-gallardo-jersey]Yovani Gallardo Jersey[/url] , however, might have been the biggest beneficiary after being dealt by eventual last-place Buffalo to San Jose on Feb. 26. Kane couldn’t contain his glee on his Twitter account a week ago in posting a message which read : ”(hashtag)playoffmode it’s about time!”

It took him nine years and four cities – from Atlanta to Winnipeg, Buffalo and now San Jose – since being selected with the No. 4 pick by the then-Thrashers in the 2009 draft to finally prepare for his playoff debut. It will happen Thursday, when the Sharks open their Pacific Division first-round series at Anaheim.

”It makes it easy to come to the rink. It makes it easy to play with this group of guys,” Kane said. ”I’m having a lot of fun right now.”

The Sharks, who gave up a prospect and two conditional draft picks, including a potential first-rounder, might not be in this position without Kane. The 26-year-old picked up the offensive slack on a team that closed the season minus star Joe Thornton. Kane scored nine goals [url=http://www.neworleanssaintsteamonline.com/tre_quan-smith-jersey]Authentic Tre'Quan Smith Jersey[/url] , including two game-winners, and added five assists in 17 games.

In closing the season at 12-7-1, the Sharks’ 25 points ranked in a tie for 10th among NHL teams since the trade deadline.

”He’s a crucial part of our team,” center Chris Tierney said of Kane. ”Just gives us an extra layer of everything.”

Kane wasn’t the only late-season addition to provide his new team a boost.

Yzerman added offense, defense and leadership to an already elite team by acquiring New York Rangers captain Ryan McDonagh and forward J.T. Miller in one of the final trades completed. Miller led all players traded on Feb. 26 by scoring 10 goals and piling up 18 points in 19 games.

”When you add two players like that and give up what they did, it’s you know: They’re in it to win it,” former player and NBC hockey analyst Eddie Olczyk said of the Lightning.

Fellow analyst, Pierre McGuire looked to the moves made by Nashville.

The Predators gave up a first-round draft pick in adding size and versatility to acquire forward Ryan Hartman from Chicago. They welcomed back veteran Mike Fisher [url=http://www.atlantabravesteamShop.com/authentic-greg-maddux-jersey]Greg Maddux Jersey[/url] , who signed out of retirement. They also signed forward Eeli Tolvanen , after the rookie first-round pick’s Kontinental Hockey League season ended last month.

”You look at everything Nashville has done, they never messed with the roster integrity that was created at the beginning of the year by David Poile and Paul Fenton,” McGuire said, referring to Predators management. ”So I think Nashville quietly, whether it’s at the deadline or just before, did some amazing things.”

The Presidents’ Trophy-winning Predators (15-4-2), Winnipeg (15-4-1) [url=http://www.thechiefsfootballauthentic.com/breeland-speaks-jersey-authentic]Youth Breeland Speaks Jersey[/url] , Columbus (14-4-2) and Boston (13-5-4) led the NHL in points since Feb. 26.

Columbus jumped from 19th in the overall standings to 14th in a run that coincided with the additions of forward Thomas Vanek and defenseman Ian Cole.

Paul Stastny scored four goals and 13 points with playoff-bound Winnipeg, after being traded by St. Louis for a first-round pick. The Blues, by comparison, closed 10-7-2 and missed the playoffs with a season-ending loss to Colorado. And don’t forget Patrick Maroon, who had three goals and 10 points in 17 games for New Jersey, which acquired him from Edmonton.

The Capitals filled secondary defensive needs by adding Michal Kempny and Jakub Jerabek just before the trade deadline.

”We had holes to fill this year and we filled them with guys that aren’t as high-profile, but are just steady, and provided the things we needed for our team [url=http://www.newyorkyankeesteamshop.com/authentic-thurman-munson-jersey]Thurman Munson Jersey[/url] ,” Capitals GM Brian MacLellan said.

After appearing in just 31 games in Chicago, Kempny played 22 in Washington while securing a role alongside Norris Trophy-candidate John Carlson.

In Philadelphia, goalie Petr Mrazek held the fort in going 6-6-4 in place of injured starter Brian Elliott. Elliott returned in time to win the final two games including a 17-save shutout in a season-ending, playoff-clinching 5-0 win over the Rangers.

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Rick Nash missed Boston’s final 12 games with an upper body injury after being acquired in a trade with the Rangers.

Tomas Plekanec managed just two assists in 17 games with Toronto after being acquired from Montreal.

Tomas Tatar had four goals and six points in 20 games with Vegas, which landed him in a deal with Detroit.

AP Hockey Writer Stephen Whyno, in Washington, and sports writers Josh Dubow, in San Jose [url=http://www.houstonastrosteamshops.com/authentic-carlos-correa-jersey]Carlos Correa Jersey[/url] , and Teresa M. Walker, in Nashville, contributed to this report.

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The roster moves have been posted on Thursday's NFL transactions list. They include the signings of 6-foot-4, 309-pound South Carolina guard Cory Helms; 6-foot Cincinnati defensive back Linden Stephens; and 6-4, 309-pound Minnesota tight end Nate Wozniak.

Barrett played in 14 games for Ohio State last season, completing 65 percent of his passes for 3,053 yards and 35 touchdowns. He also rushed for 798 yards and 12 TDs.

Stephens broke up a team-high eight passes and intercepted a pass as a Cincinnati senior last season.

Wozniak, a fifth-year Golden Gophers senior, had seven receptions for 104 yards in 2017.

Helms [url=http://www.eaglesauthorizedshops.com]Eagles Game Jerseys[/url] , a fifth-year Gamecocks senior, played guard and center last season.

The Saints have now signed six rookie free agents since Saturday evening's conclusion of this year's NFL draft.

Next season’s defending champion Washington Capitals will look a lot like the group that won the Stanley Cup last month.

They re-signed defensemen John Carlson and Michal Kempny and forward Devante Smith-Pelly and have so far only lost fourth-line center Jay Beagle and backup goaltender Philipp Grubauer from their title-winning roster.

Yet the few changes could be substantial for the Capitals, most notably new coach Todd Reirden taking over for Barry Trotz with a roster that is so similar that the expectation will be another deep playoff run.

”There’s going to be many things that stay the same, but there’s gonna be some things that I think I have to be cognizant of,” Reirden said as he was introduced Tuesday. ”I want to create an environment where players are going to continue to be challenged with new ideas and new ways to improve their games.”

Based on the continuity of promoting a four-year assistant, general manager Brian MacLellan and Reirden expect this to be a ”seamless transition.” Set aside the awkward circumstances of Trotz’s departure and the Capitals had been grooming Reirden for a head coaching job somewhere in the NHL for some time now.

Reirden was the finalist for Calgary’s job two years ago and in retrospect is glad that didn’t work out. His first NHL head coaching job happens to be this one, as just the fourth coach in the past 30 years to assume control of a Cup champion.

With the vast majority of the roster back [url=http://www.cincinnatibengalsteamonline.com/sam-hubbard-jersey]Sam Hubbard Jersey[/url] , Alex Ovechkin coming off a playoff MVP performance and almost the entire defense he helped develop back to try to repeat, the pressure is on.

”Todd’s at that point in his career where he’s earned a head coaching job,” MacLellan said. ”He’s put in all the work. He’s got all the experience. It’s just a matter of seeing him take control. I have all the faith in the world that he can accomplish it. He’s just ready to do it right now.”

Beagle signed a four-year, $12 million contract with the Canucks, and the Capitals traded Grubauer and defenseman Brooks Orpik to the Avalanche to clear the cap space they needed to ink Carlson to a $64 million, eight-year deal. Orpik could still return after Colorado bought him out and made him a free agent, which could mean 18 of 19 players who skated in the Cup-winning Game 5 against Vegas are on the roster to begin next season.

”It’s one of those offseasons where you’re not trying to make a change because you like what you have culturally [url=http://www.giantscheapstore.com/customized-cheap]Cheap Customized New York Giants Jerseys[/url] ,” MacLellan said. ”This group really seems to like playing together and there’s a good chemistry there, so I think it was our decision to try to (keep) as much as we could.”

That did not extend to Trotz, who wanted to be paid closer to market value for a Cup-winning coach than the automatic extension that kicked in with a small raise from his previous salary. MacLellan believes Reirden can build on what Trotz started, and the 47-year-old new Capitals coach is confident in his abilities because of how much responsibility he had the past two seasons as associate coach.

”We all had input in it in what our decisions were made,” Reirden said. ”I feel strongly about the direction of our team and the style that we played during the year that it wasn’t necessarily just one person’s idea, but it was our whole staff that had large input into how our team was going to play.”

The Capitals will need one assistant coach to replace Trotz choice Lane Lambert, but will keep the rest of the staff intact. They’ll look to Travis Boyd or recently signed Nic Dowd to replace Beagle. And if they can’t bring back Orpik [url=http://www.packersauthorizedshops.com/authentic-j_mon-moore-jersey]Packers J'Mon Moore Jersey[/url] , they’ll likely find a veteran defenseman to play on the third pair.

That’s about all that’s different when the Stanley Cup banner is raised to the rafters Oct. 3, which is no accident.

”We’re always looking to improve certain areas,” MacLellan said. ”We always look at, `We’ve got a hole here. We need to fix that.’ Or, `This is a way we can get to that next level.’ We’ve always had that type of attitude. This year, it’s trying to maintain what we had.”

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Nathan Shepherd jumped off the defensive line [url=http://www.bengalscheapstore.com/cordy-glenn-jersey-cheap]Cordy Glenn Jersey Bengals[/url] , got into the New York Jets' backfield and saw Sam Darnold standing just a few feet away.

Then, the third-round draft pick put on the brakes.

"Oh, I stayed away from him," a smiling Shepherd said of Darnold on Saturday during rookie minicamp. "No sir. You see the red (jersey) and you turn the other way."

Quarterbacks are off-limits to contact in NFL practices, so would-be sack-happy defenders such as Shepherd need to tread lightly 鈥?especially when the No. 3 overall pick and future of the franchise is in the pocket.

But games are another story, of course, and the Jets will be counting on Shepherd and fellow rookie Folorunso Fatukasi to help make Sundays miserable for opposing offenses. New York went big in the draft 鈥?after taking Darnold in the first round 鈥?by adding heft to its defensive line.

Over 630 pounds worth.

Shepherd is a 6-foot-4, 315-pounder from Fort Hays State. Fatukasi, a sixth-rounder from UConn, is 6-3 and 318.

"Same size, different players," coach Todd Bowles said last week after the draft.

Shepherd and Fatukasi could get plenty of opportunities to play as rookies. Bowles said both can play nose tackle and spell Leonard Williams at defensive end, and the Jets will have them slotted for certain roles depending on what defensive scheme they want to use.

They might also be able to help offset the loss of Muhammad Wilkerson, who was cut during the offseason and has since signed with Green Bay. The Jets still have Williams and Steve McLendon on their defensive line, as well as Mike Pennel, Xavier Cooper and Henry Anderson, who was acquired in a draft-day deal with Indianapolis.

"I think that whatever the opportunity the Jets have for me is going to be more than enough for me," Shepherd said. "If they need help in a certain area [url=http://www.newyorkjetsteamonline.com/joe-namath-jersey]Cheap Joe Namath Jersey[/url] , then I would certainly feel honored that they would come and look to me for that."

Boosting a pass rush that has struggled to consistently get to the quarterback the last few seasons might be one.

"We'll see," Bowles said of Shepherd. "We expect him to have an impact as a defensive lineman, but sacks come differently for different people. As long as he does what he is supposed to do, which we're sure he will, we'll get better and we'll see where the pass rush is and if the sacks come."

Shepherd is a study in patience and perseverance . The native of Ontario, Canada, redshirted his first season at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia and then became a starter before leaving school for financial reasons.

Shepherd worked several side jobs for the next two years, dreaming of returning to football someday while fighting to keep motivated every day.

"Yeah, most mornings," he said. "You're thinking, 'OK, I've got to go to work and this check isn't really doing anything to improve my life today, that I can see.' So, that was difficult, but you've just got to keep the dream alive and know that you're that much closer."

New Big Guys: Third-rounder Nathan Shepherd and sixth-rounder Folorunso Fatukasi could make big impacts on #Jets' defensive line as rookies. More from @DWAZ73: s://t.co/5OkAGr7MVR pic.2Jbl0aZMmo

鈥?AP NFL (@AP_NFL) May 5, 2018

Shepherd landed at Fort Hays State in Kansas in 2015, became a starter and was the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association defensive player of the year as a senior. He finished his three-year career at Fort Hays with 168 tackles, including 27 for loss [url=http://www.newyorkgiantsteamonline.com/saquon-barkley-jersey]Saquon Barkley Giants Jersey[/url] , and 10 sacks.

Now, he's in the NFL 鈥?something he's still trying to grasp.

"I was fortunate enough to be able to keep my same number, so I'll be No. 97," he said. "I have my jersey from college, so I think when I take that picture of my college jersey and my pro jersey, that moment will sink in for me."

For Fatukasi, this marks sort of a homecoming. He grew up in the Far Rockaway section of Queens, New York, and ended up going to UConn. He went through three coaching changes while he was there but thrived despite the constant turnover.

He had 45 tackles, including 7陆 for losses, as a senior and was tied for second on the Huskies with four sacks. Fatukasi finished his college career with 168 tackles and 14 sacks in 48 games while playing several positions on UConn's defensive line.

"Having three different head coaches 鈥?and if you include the interim head coach, it's four 鈥?and having a various amount of defenses, I've kind of been all over," Fatukasi said.

That versatility will be valuable for the Jets, who tend to move players around on the line to keep them fresh. Both Shepherd and Fatukasi could quickly find themselves part of that rotation, but they first need to get adjusted to playing in the NFL.

"I had to quickly get off the high of being drafted," Fatukasi said, "and realize there's still a lot of work to be done."

TORONTO — The Florida Panthers will be trying to keep their playoff drive alive Wednesday night while the Toronto Maple Leafs will make another attempt to set a franchise record for wins in a season.

The Panthers (39-28-7) defeated the New York Islanders 3-0 Monday night as they pursue the New Jersey Devils for the second wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference.

“I really haven’t been paying much attention to what’s going on with the Devils and those other teams [url=http://www.falconscheapstore.com/calvin-ridley-jersey-cheap]Cheap Calvin Ridley Jersey[/url] , but obviously we know it’s tight and you can’t afford to lose at this point,” said Panthers center Nick Bjugstad, who scored a goal Monday. “There’s not much breathing room here at the end of the year. We’ve got a tough schedule coming up here, a lot of games, but it’s going to be a fun challenge.”

The Maple Leafs (45-24-7) are secure in their playoff spot but will be trying for a franchise-record in wins for a season with 46. That goal was thwarted by a 3-2 loss to the Buffalo Sabres Monday night in which they had a 41-27 advantage in shots on goal. The loss also stopped a franchise-record 13-game home winning streak and prevented the Maple Leafs from winning their 27th home game of the season, which also would be a team record.

“I think we got a nice warning against Detroit (a 4-3 win over the Red Wings Saturday) that no matter if the teams are playing for the first draft pick or whatever or they’re playing for the playoffs, they’re going to bring it every night,” Maple Leafs goaltender Frederik Andersen said. “I think we came prepared, I think we played well tonight — we could have hit the net a little bit more maybe, but I think we had a lot of good opportunities. Those nights are going to happen, and I think we played a good game overall.”

A former Maple Leafs goaltender, James Reimer, has played a big part in the Panthers attempt at a playoff spot.

Reimer made 32 saves for his fifth consecutive win Monday. The backup to Roberto Luongo earned his fourth shutout of the season. He is 7-1-0 since returning from injury Feb. 12.

“I just tried to be big in there and try to read the puck as best as I could and be on it,” Reimer said. “And then rely on your D-men to clear any garbage, and they did a great job.”

“Reims has answered the bell every time,” Panthers coach Bob Boughner said. “This is the part of the season you need guys stepping up and he’s been one of our guys that’s stepped up for us. His preparation is real good and you can see he was focused right from the drop of the puck tonight, made some big saves.”

Monday night, the Panthers signed their first-round draft pick from 2016 [url=http://www.giantscheapshops.com/cheap-authentic-kyle-lauletta-jersey]Authentic Kyle Lauletta Jersey[/url] , center Henrik Borgstrom to a three-year entry-level contract. He could join the team as soon as Wednesday.

Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock said there are things his team can improve on from their performance on Monday.

“Obviously, I thought our turnovers in our own zone in the first period; I thought we were a little bit loose,” he said. “We’ve got to hit the net, we had so many opportunities in the offensive zone and we failed to hit the net. We missed the net, just looking right here, it says 26 times we missed the net. So, I mean, that would be part of it too. In the end, we had every opportunity to win, we were a little too loose and we didn’t win. Let’s get back to work.

“I thought we had lots of good things, but then we got carried away with it and gave up some chances. Now, the puck has got to stay out too. The bottom line is we did lots of good things, we didn’t win the game. I still think we can be better without it at times. I thought we turned it over a bit too much — too cute — and in the end you go home disappointed.

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Detroit Lions running back LeGarrette Blount returned to training camp a day after walking off the field during practice.

Blount declined interview requests Monday.

The Lions are counting on the 31-year-old Blount to help improve their running game [url=http://www.chicagobearsteamonline.com/mitchell-trubisky-jersey]Mitchell Trubisky Jersey[/url] , which has ranked among the NFL’s worst in recent years.

He helped Philadelphia and New England win the past two Super Bowls. Blount ran for 1,927 yards and 20 touchdowns over the previous two seasons.

Safety Tavon Wilson attended practice, but was not in pads with his teammates. It was not clear why Wilson was held out of drills. Defensive lineman Da’Shawn Hand left the field with his right knee wrapped in ice.

Detroit has its first day off during training camp Tuesday.

>Carolina running back Jonathan Stewart is inactive for the first time this season Sunday against Atlanta.Stewart had seen a diminished role the past two weeks. He had only seven carries for 19 yards in last week’s win over Tampa Bay, but was still listed as the Panthers’ starter. Stewart’s exit leaves Christian McCaffrey as the probable starter.Jacksonville is locked in as the third seed in the AFC, but is sitting only two starters against Tennessee: left tackle Cam Robinson, who left last week’s game with an abdominal strain, and receiver Marqise Lee (ankle).Derrick Henry is getting the first start of his two-year NFL career with DeMarco Murray scratched for the first time since joining the Titans. Murray is out with an injured right knee.Denver running back Jamaal Charles will sit out against Kansas City, his former team. Charles was a four-time Pro Bowler with the Chiefs, but never found a groove with the Broncos this season. 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Representatives for Mark Ingram say the Saints running back did not test positive for a performance enhancing drug and is weighing options for challenging his four-game suspension.

Paul Bobbitt and David Jones of VIP Sports Management say Ingram was using a substance that is permitted by the NFL with a ”proper use exemption.”

Ingram’s agents did not specify which substance Ingram used.

The NFL’s drug policy does not merely ban performance enhancing drugs [url=http://www.brownscheapshop.com/cheap-authentic-austin-corbett-jersey]Authentic Austin Corbett Jersey[/url] , but also certain legal substances which have been known to skew drug test results.

The NFL announced Ingram’s suspension on Tuesday.

Bobbitt and Jones say Ingram has challenged the NFL’s decision through arbitration, and that his legal team will consider further options after reviewing the arbitrator’s recent ruling.

Last season [url=http://www.thecoltsfootballauthentic.com/tyquan-lewis-jersey-authentic]Youth Tyquan Lewis Jersey[/url] , Ingram rushed for a career-high 1,124 yards and 12 touchdowns to go with 416 yards receiving.

The New York Giants will probably look to improve their lines in the second day of the NFL draft after taking running back Saquon Barkley of Penn State with the second pick overall.

The offensive line struggled last season and could use a couple of guards. The defensive line will need a pass rusher following the recent trade of end Jason Pierre-Paul to Tampa Bay.

New York has the second pick in both the second and third rounds.

Guard Will Hernandez of Texas El-Paso was still on the board after the opening round [url=http://www.pantherscheapstore.com/rashaan-gaulden-jersey-cheap]Rashaan Gaulden Jersey Panthers[/url] , while there are a couple of good defensive ends in Harold Landy of Boston College, Arden Key of LSU and Sam Hubbard of Ohio State.

The Giants also need help at wide receiver [url=http://www.atlantabravesteamShop.com/authentic-orlando-cepeda-jersey]Orlando Cepeda Jersey[/url] , linebacker and cornerback.

Veteran receiver Brandon Marshall had his contract terminated after failing his physical last week. Courtland Sutton, a 6-foot-3 receiver from SMU [url=http://www.newyorkgiantsteamonline.com/saquon-barkley-jersey]Saquon Barkley Giants Jersey[/url] , is available.

Among other players who might interest the Giants at cornerback are Josh Jackson of Iowa and Isaiah Oliver of Colorado.

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To say the offseason and camp for the聽New England Patriots聽have been interesting would be an understatement. Alleged issues between coach Bill Belichick聽and star quarterback Tom Brady is front and center in the news [url=http://www.authenticspittsburghsteelers.com]Steelers Elite Jerseys[/url] , Julian Edelman's troubles with a PED scandal didn't help matters, and a rumored trade of tight end Rob Gronkowski had the media in a stir when everyone thought he'd been traded,聽only to hear rumors Brady had squashed the trade dead in its tracks. So, to see arguably the best QB in football teasing a time frame for his eventual retirement is just another moment that will go down as one of the wackiest gaps between Patriot seasons.ESPN shared a statement聽on Instagram Brady made to Oprah Winfrey about his career winding down. They wrote that Brady was "seeing that there's definitely an end coming, sooner rather than later." Of course, the post got all sorts of attention and fans flooded the comments sections with everything from hoping the news wasn't true to asking what he meant by his comments. In an effort to either answer the question or perhaps stir the pot further [url=http://www.pantherscheapstore.com/donte-jackson-jersey-cheap]Donte Jackson Panthers Jersey[/url] , Brady himself commented on the post writing,聽聽"Cuarenta y cinco," which translates from Spanish to 45. The good King or the bad King?

That is the question for the Seattle Mariners and those in attendance Thursday night at Safeco Field for the opener of a four-game series with the Boston Red Sox.

Will they get to see the Felix Hernandez who went a season-high eight innings in his last home start against Tampa Bay, giving up just one run on five hits with one walk and seven strikeouts?

Or will it be the King Felix who lasted just three innings on the road Saturday against those same Rays, getting tagged for six runs (five earned) on seven hits to a team that had lost eight straight games?

“He threw the ball very well and got very good results the last time out (at home),” Mariners manager Scott Servais said after Saturday’s 7-3 loss. “But the key in this league is being consistent and going out there every start and giving your team a chance to win. And we were behind the eight ball after the third inning. I just want to see consistency and giving us a chance to win. And he does [url=http://www.arizonadiamondbacksteamshop.com/authentic-jarrod-dyson-jersey]Jarrod Dyson Jersey[/url] , too.

“Felix’s stuff wasn’t as good (Sunday). It was evident right from the get-go. The life on the fastball really wasn’t there. It’s not all about velocity. It’s about locating it. And that wasn’t really on either.”

Hardly a ringing endorsement for a six-time All-Star and the American League’s 2010 Cy Young Award winner.

King Felix is 6-5 this season with a career-worst 5.70 ERA. He has given up four or more runs in five of his past seven starts.

“I was making some good pitches and they had some hits that found some holes and there’s nothing I could do about that,” Hernandez said in his own defense Saturday. “I think I had pretty good stuff, they just put a lot of balls in play, just a little bit of tough luck. I was a little bit up, but I think I was making good pitches.”

Maybe catcher Mike Zunino put it best, telling The Seattle Times: “There’s been games where his velocity may not have been that high [url=http://www.ramscheapshop.com/cheap-authentic-brian-allen-jersey]Cheap Brian Allen Jersey[/url] , but if he locates he can get away with stuff.”

Opposing pitchers haven’t gotten away with much against the Red Sox, who lead the American League East.

Outfielder Mookie Betts, who returned Monday from a stint on the 10-day disabled list with a left abdominal strain, leads the league with a .352 batting average and an on-base plus slugging percentage of 1.171. Teammate J.D. Martinez is second to the Los Angeles Angels‘ Mike Trout with 22 homers and is third in the league, behind Betts and Trout, with a 1.033 OPS.

Betts hit his first home run since coming off the disabled list Wednesday in a 5-1 victory that gave the Red Sox a sweep of Baltimore.

“I’ve done everything that I pretty much do [url=http://www.chargerscheapstore.com/derwin-james-jersey-cheap]Derwin James Jersey Chargers[/url] , and I passed the test,” said Betts, who didn’t have the benefit of a minor league rehabilitation assignment. “Just trying to ride this wave.”

Hernandez is 8-4 with a 4.01 ERA in 19 career starts against Boston.

The Red Sox will counter with left-hander David Price (7-4, 4.00 ERA), who is 5-0 in his past six starts overall.

Price is 3-1 with a 2.62 ERA in seven career starts against Seattle.

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Trevor Ariza has agreed to a one-year [url=http://www.authenticsdenverbroncos.com]Broncos Elite Jerseys[/url] , $15 million contract with the Phoenix Suns, a person with knowledge of the situation said Sunday.

The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the agreement cannot be officially announced during the free agent moratorium.

The 33-year-old Ariza brings a reputation for winning and veteran leadership that general manager Ryan McDonough said the team needed around its young core that features Devin Booker, Josh Jackson and No. 1 overall draft pick Deandre Ayton.

It’s a nice raise for the 14-year NBA veteran, who earned $7.4 million last season, his fourth with Houston.

Ariza averaged 11.7 points last season for a Rockets team that compiled the best record in the NBA at 65-17 before losing to Golden State in a seven-game Western Conference finals. Phoenix had the league’s worst record at 21-61 and has missed the playoffs eight years in a row.

Ariza has averaged 10.5 points per game, shooting 42 percent from the field and 35 percent from 3-point range, in a career that included stops with the New York Knicks, Orlando, the Los Angeles Lakers [url=http://www.columbusbluejacketsteamshop.com/authentic-seth-jones-jersey]Authentic Seth Jones Jersey[/url] , New Orleans and Washington, as well as Houston.

The move gives Phoenix a glut of players at the wing positions and uses up most of the team’s available salary cap space. However, more space could be created with personnel moves.

The team’s biggest remaining need would appear to be point guard, where the top two currently are Brandon Knight, returning from knee surgery that cost him all of last season, and French rookie Elie Okobo, the first player drafted this year in the second round.

The Suns also announced their Las Vegas Summer League roster. Ayton and fellow first-round pick Mikal Bridges are on it, as is Jackson. Dragan Bender is on the list but no Marquese Chriss.

Ayton threw out the ceremonial first pitch at Sunday’s game between the Arizona Diamondbacks and San Francisco Giants.

Stephen Curry and Golden State turned all those Houston bricks into a road back to the NBA Finals.

Needing not only all their firepower but also 27 straight misses by the Rockets during an epic cold streak from 3-point range, the Warriors rallied to keep alive their hopes for a repeat.

Kevin Durant scored 34 points [url=http://www.buccaneerscheapstore.com/carlton-davis-jersey-cheap]Carlton Davis Jersey Buccaneers[/url] , Curry sparked another third-quarter turnaround, and the Warriors earned a fourth straight trip to the NBA Finals by beating the Rockets 101-92 in Game 7 of the Western Conference finals on Monday night.

The defending champions trailed by as many as 15 in the first half after falling behind 17 in Game 6.

Curry, who finished with 27 points, scored 14 of Golden State’s 33 points in the third quarter as Houston’s shooting didn’t just go cold, it froze. The Rockets missed all 14 3-point attempts in that quarter as part of a 1-for-21 second half from long range.

The Warriors will host LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 1 on Thursday night in the fourth straight matchup between the teams.

WALTHAM, Mass. (AP) – Celtics general manager Danny Ainge says point guard Kyrie Irving was unable to attend Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals because he was recovering from nasal surgery.

Ainge said on Monday that Irving had a deviated septum. The injury occurred in November when he was hit in the face by teammate Aron Baynes. Irving wore a mask while healing from the facial fracture.

Irving has not played since March because of a knee injury. But his absence on the Boston bench was noted when the Celtics played his former team, the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Ainge joked: ”I don’t think he wanted to be seen in public and ruin his movie career.”

HOCKEY

LAS VEGAS (AP) – Commissioner Gary Bettman says an NHL team in Seattle would have the same favorable expansion terms given to the Vegas Golden Knights.

Bettman says the league could vote on adding its 32nd franchise in Seattle later this year, although it won’t happen in June. Bettman remains just as amazed by the Golden Knights’ inaugural season as the rest of the sports world as they host the Washington Capitals in the Stanley Cup Final.

Bettman and deputy commissioner Bill Daly both confirmed the NHL plans to keep the same rules on the next expansion draft. If it happens within the next two years, as increasingly expected [url=http://www.officialblackhawksproshop.com/authentic-adidas-jonathan-toews-jersey]Adidas Jonathan Toews Jersey[/url] , Vegas won’t have to lose any of its players.

SOCCER

ZURICH (AP) – FIFA’s bid inspectors will hold a meeting in Zurich on Wednesday with the North American and Moroccan candidates hoping to host the 2026 World Cup.

Officials from the joint United States-Canada-Mexico team and Morocco are invited to answer questions from a FIFA-appointed panel evaluating their bids ahead of the June 13 vote, FIFA said Monday.

No date is set to publish the evaluation reports ahead of the vote by up to 207 FIFA member federations in Moscow.

Though voters are not obliged to factor the reports into their choice, FIFA put a more rigorous assessment system in place after criticism of the 2018-2022 World Cup hosting votes in December 2010.

CHESTER, Pa. (AP) – Josh Sargent scored in his American debut, fellow 18-year-old Tim Weah added a goal in his second international match and a young United States team beat Bolivia 3-0 in an exhibition Monday night.

Walker Zimmerman put the Americans ahead in the 37th minute and Sargent doubled the lead in the 52nd. Weah, the son of former FIFA Player of the Year and current Liberia president George Weah, scored in the 59th.

Weah, born on Feb. 22, 2000 [url=http://www.buffalosabresteamshops.com/authentic-rasmus-dahlin-jersey]Rasmus Dahlin Sabres Jersey[/url] , became the fourth-youngest American to score when he displaced Sargent, who was born two days earlier. Sargent’s goal was particularly memorable – with his back to the goal, he intercepted a pass over his head from the goalkeeper, played the ball to himself and put it in the net with a strong right-footed shot from about 11 yards.

With no World Cup to play for, interim U.S. coach Dave Sarachan went with youth. He gave six players their debuts, raising the total to 15 in four matches since the Americans were eliminated in qualifying. Defenders Erik Palmer-Brown and Antonee Robinson and goalkeeper Alex Bono joined Sargent as debutants in the starting lineup, and defender Matt Olosune and midfielder Keatan Parks entered on the second half.

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When you think of luchadors and lucha libre wrestling [url=http://www.49erscheapstore.com/mike-mcglinchey-jersey-cheap]Mike McGlinchey Youth Jersey[/url] , you usually think of small, quick wrestlers who are able to execute a frantic style with lots of high spots. Guys like Rey Mysterio Jr. and the Guerreros made luchadors mainstream in the 1980s and 1990s all across the globe.When you think of luchadors what you don't often think about is a 315 pounder in the division. But that's聽how it appeared at the Philadelphia Eagles' Super Bowl media session as defensive tackle Fletcher Cox put on a luchador mask.VIDEO: Eagles defensive lineman Fletcher Cox dons a Lucha Libre mask when meeting with the media before Super Bowl LII in Minneapolis pic.twitter.com/LZPk5AnUVz— azcentral (@azcentral) January 31, 2018鈥淭his mask was a gift from a guy in Mexico,鈥?Cox said. 鈥淗e told me if I put this on, I鈥檇 have super powers and he said if anybody asked me what kind of power I had, don鈥檛 tell them because I probably make them disappear.鈥滵o you feel powerful?鈥淎ll you got to do is grab me and I鈥檒l show you,鈥?he said. Kansas City Chiefs coach Andy Reid arrived Sunday on the campus of Missouri Western State University to start his 20th season as an NFL head coach, yet finds himself energized by what's new on his football team for 2018.

"There's more new I would say on both sides of the ball," Reid said. "Some of the old guys that have been here aren't here."

The team lost several veterans during the offseason [url=http://www.bearscheapstores.com/james-daniels-jersey-cheap]James Daniels Jersey Bears[/url] , trading quarterback Alex Smith to Washington and parting ways with longtime linebackers Derrick Johnson and Tamba Hali among other moves.

The offseason changes result in a team navigating through its most significant turnover since Reid's 2013 arrival in Kansas City.

"Whether it's the quarterback position, inside linebacker position, outside linebacker position, you're missing a few of those guys and you have new guys coming in that you have an opportunity to see perform," Reid said. "That's exciting to me, I'm looking forward to that."

The biggest change comes at quarterback with Smith giving way to Patrick Mahomes, the No. 10 overall selection in last year's draft. Smith won 50 regular-season games as the team's starter since 2013.

"Alex was phenomenal, he's going to continue to be phenomenal for the Redskins and we feel very lucky to have Pat, to be able to step up and watch him grow here [url=http://www.oaklandraidersteamonline.com/brandon-parker-jersey]Authentic Brandon Parker Jersey[/url] ," Reid said. "Let's see how he does. He can't be in any better place, man, than with the Kansas City Chiefs and I know he's fired up about that."

Mahomes arrived in camp Sunday along with the team's other quarterbacks and with coaches, rookies and select veterans. A three-day minicamp starts on Monday before the full squad checks in on July 25. The first full team practice kicks off July 26.

The 22-year-old faces no competition for the starting quarterback job. The team acquired veteran Chad Henne as his understudy and to serve as a sounding board for Mahomes as he navigates his first full season as a starter. Mahomes hopes to use his time in camp to become a more efficient quarterback.

"I want to make sure I can get in and out of the huddle fast, we can make the right checks and just really have a lot of positive plays," Mahomes said.

"Not necessarily the huge plays but just have positive plays and move the chains. That's how you have success in the NFL. You keep taking those yards, taking those yards and then when you have guys that can stretch the field you make those plays and those come within the flow of the game."

With new faces arriving in camp this week, Reid had good news about some of the team's key players returning from injury.

The coach said he expects only wide receiver De'Anthony Thomas and cornerback Ashton Lampkin possibly starting camp on the sidelines. That means center Mitch Morse, linebacker Dee Ford and running back Spencer Ware [url=http://www.washingtonnationalsteamshop.com/authentic-howie-kendrick-jersey]Authentic Howie Kendrick Jersey[/url] , all returning from season-ending injuries a year ago, expect to practice with the team.

"All those guys, everybody else is good," Reid said. "Again I just want to see on the field and we'll kind of monitor as it goes but, yeah, they all should be ready to go."

The quarterback change and other roster turnover create an array of differing expectations for this Chiefs' team. Many preseason prognosticators have the Los Angeles Chargers replacing Kansas City atop the AFC West after back-to-back divisional titles.

Reid, however, doesn't see it that way.

"But the important thing is there is high expectations within the building, within the team [url=http://www.authenticsindianapoliscolts.com/cheap-kemoko-turay-jersey]Kemoko Turay Jersey Elite[/url] ," Reid said. "They demand that from themselves. You felt that in the OTAs and I expect that to continue. I expect guys to challenge each other, that's the way you get better. We've got great competition that we're going to play this year starting with the Chargers."

Yet with many viewing the 2018 season as a transition, if not rebuilding, year for the Chiefs, even Reid acknowledges that this season paves the way for a brighter future under Mahomes.

"We're striving to win a championship and then to consistently be in a position where we can win a championship as the years go on," Reid said. "And it starts again today."

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Tampa Bay hasn’t played in a week [url=http://www.authenticsseattleseahawks.com/cheap-d.j.-fluker-jersey]D.J. Fluker Jersey Elite[/url] , while Boston is coming off a hard-fought, seven-game playoff series.

Neither the Lightning nor the less-rested Bruins expect that to mean anything when their second-round playoff series begins Saturday.

A single point separated the Atlantic Division rivals in the standings after the race for the top seed in Eastern Conference came down to the final night of the regular season, and there’s every reason to believe this best-of-seven matchup will be just as tight.

”Obviously, these were the top two teams in the division, and it was a close call until the last game on who was going to finish first and second,” Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman said.

”It’s going to be a tough matchup. They are great team, so are we,” the Norris Trophy finalist said. ”It’s going to come down to the small detail in the game. We have the skill and depth up front to score goals, but we have to keep the puck out of our net.”

Boston won three of four meetings between the teams the regular season.

The Bruins won their opening round playoff series against Toronto in seven games. Tampa Bay, led by Nikita Kucherov’s 10 points (five goals, five assists) eliminated New Jersey in five games after going 0-3-1 against the Devils.

”I think you learn that the regular season means nothing,” Lightning captain Steven Stamkos said. ”We know how they play. Very competitive group, very well structured, especially that top line. … We’re expecting a very tight series against a very good hockey team.”

The Bruins are bracing for a tough test [url=http://www.seahawksauthorizedshops.com/authentic-alex-mcgough-jersey]http://www.seahawksauthorizedshops.com/authentic-alex-mcgough-jersey[/url] , too.

”It’s going to be a battle,” Bruins forward Brad Marchand said. ”They were a top team all year. They compete very hard, have a ton of skill, and they have a lot of depth.”

THEY ALL COUNT

The Lightning earned home-ice advantage for the series by finishing one point ahead of Boston in the standings. In fact, it all came down to the final night of the season, when the Bruins were playing Florida in a makeup game for a Jan. 4 game postponed by a snowstorm.

The Panthers won 4-2, leaving Boston with 112 points to 113 for Tampa Bay.

”We’re not going to allow one game to define us, yet we understand the meaning,” coach Bruce Cassidy said then. ”We let one get away, an opportunity lost to have home-ice advantage, and we’ll see if that haunts us down the road. I think it’s too early to tell that right now.”

NOT THE FIRST TIME

The Lightning and Bruins are facing each other in the postseason for only the second time. The other meeting was in the 2011 Eastern Conference Final, won by Boston in seven games.

FALLING IN LINE

In the four playoff games the Bruins won against Toronto, the trio of Patrice Bergeron, David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand had a combined 30 points. In the three games they lost [url=http://www.authenticsdetroitlions.com/cheap-tracy-walker-jersey]Tracy Walker Jersey Elite[/url] , they were held completely scoreless.

”They’re our most important line,” defenseman Torey Krug said after they tallied three goals with four assists in Game 7. ”They’re the best line in the NHL, and when they’re going it’s hard to stop.”

TONGUE LASHING

Marchand will do whatever it takes to get under the skin of his opponents, and in the first round that meant skating up to Toronto forward Leo Komarov and appearing to lick his face. (In November, he appeared to kiss Komarov on the cheek.)

”I thought he wanted to cuddle. I just wanted to get close to him,” Marchand explained after the playoff game. ”He keeps trying to get close to me. I don’t know if he’s got a thing for me or what. He’s cute.”

Several news organizations reported this week that the NHL sent a message to Marchand to knock it off, but he said he has received no such message. ”This is false,” he tweeted in response to a Boston Globe story that picked up on the original report, from Sportsnet.

I KINDA LIKE HIM

Lightning coach Jon Cooper was asked how he views Marchand.

”To be honest, what I have seen of him, what goes on out on the ice, he’s a competitive you know what and I love that. I think some of the greatest comments you can give a player is I hate that kid but I do wish he was on my team,” Cooper said.

”I was fortunate enough during the All-Star game to meet him … and off the ice to spend a little time. It actually was disappointing, I was hoping he was going to be an idiot. I was hoping I wasn’t going to like him [url=http://www.authenticsgreenbaypackers.com/cheap-jaire-alexander-jersey]Jaire Alexander Jersey Elite[/url] ,” Cooper added. ”But he was unreal, and it’s amazing that a guy who is that kind and nice and outgoing and friendly is the same guy who jumps on the ice. You have to respect that about him. And when that kids jumps on the ice, he comes to play.”

AP Sports Writer Jimmy Golen in Boston contributed to this report.

The Florida Panthers were one of the best teams in the NHL after the All-Star break, not that it counted for much at the end of the regular season.

Despite winning five games over the final seven days and tying for first in the NHL with 25 victories over their final 35 games, the Panthers failed to make the playoffs for the fifth time in six years and the 15th time in 17 seasons.

”It’s disappointing,” said center Vincent Trocheck, who finished the season with a team-high 31 goals. ”Everybody here had one goal, and that was to make the playoffs and then go on a push. We were really hoping we’d get a little help from some other teams and maybe get in. I think there’s a lot of teams that didn’t want to play us if we got in.”

The Panthers finished with a 44-30-8 record for 96 points, matching the 2014-15 Boston Bruins for most points for a team missing the playoffs. The Panthers were 25-8-2 after the All-Star break, tying the Winnipeg Jets for most victories over the final 35 games.

But Florida couldn’t overcome a slow start. The Panthers was 4-8-2 in its first 14 games and played catch-up the whole season. They held a playoff position for one day (after the games of Oct. 12) the entire season.

”We’re extremely proud of this group,” Panthers coach Bob Boughner said. ”The effort they put forth, especially in the second half of the season … 96 points is not easy to do in this league. It’s a shame that we’re not in with that kind of a total. Maybe that’s something that’s going to even drive us harder next year.”

Some things to know about the Panthers’ disappointing 2017-18 season, and a look to `18-19:

OFFSEASON PRIORITY: The Panthers don’t seem to need much after their post-All-Star break performance, particularly since every key member of the team is signed through next season or beyond. The top seven scorers [url=http://www.redskinscheapstore.com/derrius-guice-jersey-cheap]Derrius Guice Redskins Jersey[/url] , as well as goalies Roberto Luongo and James Reimer, are signed through the 2019-20 season. If anything, the Panthers could use another scorer and maybe a defenseman, but the team has a solid foundation in place.

YOUTH IS SERVED: Perhaps the biggest reason for optimism for the Panthers looking ahead has to do with a core that’s been around for a few years but is still very young. The team’s top three scorers – Aleksander Barkov, Vincent Trocheck and Jonathan Huberdeau – and top-four defensemen Aaron Ekblad and Mike Matheson all are 24 or younger.

HOME COOKING: The Panthers’ season-ending five-game winning streak including a sweep of a four-game homestand that featured games against two of the top four teams in the NHL, the Nashville Predators and the Boston Bruins. A 4-3 victory against the Buffalo Sabres in the home finale helped the Panthers set a franchise record with 27 home victories, breaking the mark of 26 set in 1999-2000.

STILL GOING: Defenseman Keith Yandle completed a ninth consecutive season without missing a game, extending the longest active streak in the NHL to 715 consecutive games. Yandle ended the season with 56 points, one shy of the franchise record for defensemen set by Robert Svehla in 1995-96. His blueline partner Aaron Ekblad tied the franchise mark for defensemen with 16 goals, first set by Jason Garrison in 2011-12.

HOW LONG CAN LUONGO GO? Goalie Roberto Luongo started three games in four nights last week as the Panthers made their final push to the playoffs, and he joined Martin Brodeur and Patrick Roy as the only goalies to play 1,000 games when he defeated Boston on Thursday. But he did turn 39 on April 4 and missed 32 games this season because of injuries. The Panthers will have to decide whether they want to come back next season with Luongo and James Reimer as their goaltending duo.

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