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David Ortiz at final Red Sox Spring Training September 18, 2016

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FORT MYERS, Fla. — At the end of David Ortiz Jerseys’s first Spring Training workout of his final Major League season, the slugger hopped into a golf cart with fellow Red Sox legends Jim Rice and Luis Tiant.

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“This is going to be me next year — chilling,” Ortiz said of the ride with two players who have long since retired.

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But before Ortiz gets to next year, he will have one final season of memories with the Red Sox, the team he reached stardom with shortly after arriving in 2003.

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It didn’t take long for Ortiz’s arrival to create a buzz around camp.

• Spring: Tickets | Ballpark | 40-man roster | NRIs

In batting practice, Ortiz sprayed towering homers and an array of line drives from foul line to foul line.

“Papi, that one went all the way to the Dominican,” a fan hollered as one of his more impressive blasts left the yard.

With his final swing of BP, Ortiz belted one in front of a tractor beyond the right-field fence.

Ortiz, in a jovial mood, had informal discussions with just about everyone who crossed paths with him on Monday.

“You have more hair than I do,” Ortiz hollered to manager John Farrell, who was bald only a few months ago from chemotherapy treatments but is now back to work full-time.

One of his encounters was with newly acquired ace lefty David Price Jerseys, a man Ortiz had feuded with verbally in the past.

“Big D,” Ortiz hollered as he spotted Price and then wrapped him in a hug. “I’ve got your back.” Outlook: Ortiz, DH, BOS Outlook: Ortiz still a power threat in final seasonDavid Ortiz Jerseys finished the 2015 campaign with his best homer and RBI totals in nearly a decade and should have a strong final season in 2016

Ortiz will hold his first interview session of camp on Tuesday in what has become, more or less, the annual State of Big Papi Address.

You can expect plenty of that discussion to center around Ortiz’s decision to retire.

Despite what is on the horizon after the season, the 40-year-old Ortiz seemed as focused on the job at hand as ever, and every bit as enthusiastic.

“He looks great,” said Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia Jerseys. “He’s ready. Right after the season, me and my wife went to Italy and he had gone also, and we overlapped in a city and went to dinner and we were talking about a lot of things. I’m definitely excited. I’m a little upset it’s his last year, but it will be cool to just see him go through everything. With what he’s done in his career, it’s pretty special.”

Pedroia discovered that in Italy, Ortiz is not the celebrity he is in Boston, the Dominican Republic and every section of Red Sox Nation.

“Nobody recognized him,” said Pedroia. “He was kind of like, ‘What’s going on here?’ I’m like, ‘Man, they don’t watch baseball too much.”‘

But all eyes will be on Ortiz for what the slugger hopes is a memorable final chapter.

“He’s in great shape,” said Farrell. “I’ve had a chance to sit with him a couple of times in the offseason. I know he’s looking forward to this year for a number of reasons. But above all, he wants to win, as we all do, and I think it speaks volumes the way he showed up, the condition that he’s in. We look forward to him being a main cog and a main presence in our lineup.”

Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brownie Points, and follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs. Share cheap jerseys usa This Email Print + Hide Comments

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Blazers take advantage of lapses in hard-fought win September 3, 2016

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PORTLAND — So now it’s a series. Isn’t it?

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Damian Lillard and his Blazers woke up from their recent fourth-quarter nightmare in Oakland to beat Golden State 120-108 in Game 3 Saturday and bring themselves within one more homecourt win of evening this conference semifinal. But Draymond Green didn’t sound as if it was going to come to that when Portland and his Warriors reconvene on Monday.

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“I felt like I was horrendous on the defensive end,” said Green, who appeared to be unimpressed by his 37 points. “We’ll be better there, I’ll be better and we’ll win.”

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The defending champions earned an NBA-record 73 wins and have been dominating the postseason with and without MVP Stephen Curry. And yet the truth of their success emerged after Portland became the only opponent to beat the Warriors cheap wholesale twice this season. Golden State’s advantage became more obvious than ever after Green had gone 8-for-12 from the 3-point line while filling out his exquisite line with 8 assists, 9 rebounds and a blocked shot. As a team leader, he held himself in contempt.

“All of that is cute,” he said of his stats. The reason they didn’t result in a victory was because, according to Green, he didn’t manufacture the intensity that would have snuffed out the Blazers in the opening half. “I put it on me because that’s what I do,” Green went on. “I got to bring that sense of urgency for us and I didn’t do that from the start. I know we need to be better in that department and that falls on my shoulders.”

They felt like they were on the ropes, and we didn’t take advantage of it.

– Draymond Green on Game 3

Across the way there were the playoff-high 40 points from Lillard, which fulfilled the leadership that his Blazers needed from him. In the fourth quarter of Game 2 he had gone scoreless, enabling the Warriors to recover from an 11-point deficit. “There was no question in my mind he was going to have a really good game,” said Portland coach Terry Stotts of Lillard’s response. “That’s how he’s built.”

The Blazers did all sorts of things to their liking, but the immediate future of this series will not simply boil down to a test of wills between Green and Lillard. For Curry could be coming back as soon as Game 4. The plan was for him to go 3-on-3 at practice on Sunday and “see how he does,” said coach Steve Kerr.

If Curry had been able to join in with Green (13 of 23 overall) and Klay Thompson (14 of 28 for his 35 points) for this game, then complaints of urgency might have been made redundant. As it was, no other Warrior scored more than 10 points, and the little things made a big difference in Curry’s absence. “I thought our defense was pretty good to start the game,” said Kerr, “but we couldn’t get a loose ball or rebound to save our lives. We weren’t completing the possessions.”

The ball movement and free throw shooting that had led to an early 17-point lead in Game 2 for Portland were not at all evident in the early going of Game 3. The Warriors’ defense was enabling Thompson to effectively replace Curry with 18 first-quarter points.

“That team, they had doubt. I could tell that,” said Green. “You could tell they were unsure about everything they were doing in the first quarter. They felt like they were on the ropes, and we didn’t take advantage of it.”

While the Blazers were going 1-for-12 in the paint in the opening quarter, Lillard was establishing himself at the 3-point line. He made his first three shots out there – and 5 of 7 throughout the opening half — to provide Portland with a 58-46 advantage at intermission. Joining him in the attack was forward Al-Farouq Aminu, who would generate 10 rebounds and 23 points on 9 shots while making his first 8 (including a quartet of 3-pointers).

“And then we kept fouling,” complained Kerr, whose Warriors were outscored 23-10 at the line. “That was really the difference in the game until the fourth quarter. We were fouling jump shooters. We were committing silly fouls. We weren’t sharp, we didn’t play very well at either end.”

Context means everything in this matchup. The young Blazers, for whom a playoff appearance had been anticipated by practically no one, are here today because injuries sidelined Chris Paul and Blake Griffin for the latter half of the opening round. They were determined to continue exploiting that trend vs. the Curry-less Warriors. Portland remained undefeated (4-0) at home in the playoffs because Stotts played Lillard, Aminu and C.J. McCollum (22 points after recovering from a 1-for-7 start) for at least 41 minutes each. He altered his rotations and utilized Ed Davis (8 points, 10 rebounds) when Golden State went small with Green at center.

Allen Crabbe had come off the bench to provide 10 points through three quarters (and an eventual impact of +25 in 30 minutes overall), but it was always going to come down to the fourth for Lillard. A brief drought of four possessions enabled the Warriors to whittle a 20-point deficit down to 11 as groans and other early signs of hysteria were incited from the crowd, which included a bellowing minority of Warriors fans.

The Blazers were going to need more from Lillard to see them through, and he supplied successive 3-pointers — including one from deep behind the arc that Curry would have made under similar circumstances. Then, when Lillard could create nothing inside the final 2 minutes, he was bailed out late in the shot clock by a McCollum 3-pointer that made it 120-106 and summoned the reserves of both teams. “We were a more aggressive team at both ends of the floor down the stretch,” said Lillard, who added 10 assists.

Lillard Scores 40 Points

Damian Lillard scores 40 points, grabs five rebounds and dishes ten assists against the Warriors.

By the end the Warriors were furious with themselves. They blamed Lillard’s fresh legs (10 fourth-quarter points) on their game-long failure to make the Blazers work defensively. Too many quick shots, not enough ball movement, not enough urgency.

“We’ve got to wear these guys down with more passes,” said Thompson. “They played eight guys tonight heavy minutes. We’ve got to realize that. We’ve got to make them work on the defensive end.”

It will help, too, if Curry is able to come back. But if Green has his way, they aren’t going to need him.

Ian Thomsen has covered the NBA since 2000. You can e-mail him here or follow him on Twitter.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting. Trending

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Predators’ Josi soaking in All-Star experience August 22, 2016

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Nashville Predators defenseman Roman Josi Jerseys is one of four hometown players set to appear in the 2016 Honda NHL All-Star Skills Competition on Saturday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, Rogers, TVA) and the 2016 Honda NHL All-Star Game on Sunday (5 p.m. ET; NBCSN, Rogers, TVAS). He is joined by cheapjerseys defenseman Shea Weber Jerseys, forward James Neal Jerseys and goalie Pekka Rinne Jerseys. Josi is doing a blog for NHL.com this weekend to detail his experiences.

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NASHVILLE — It’s been a crazy, but fun day so far. This is my first All-Star Game, so everything is new for me.

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I had an event this morning that was a community event where we dedicated the Legacy Family Life Center building that serves the Nashville Inner City Ministry. It was a lot of fun and seeing the kids and how happy they were, it was just great. Daniel Sedin of the Vancouver Canucks and Dustin Byfuglien of the Winnipeg Jets were there also. We caught up a little bit there, but I drove there separately because I’m not staying at the players’ hotel. I’m still in my house because the game is here.

The attention from the media is different, that’s for sure. In Nashville, we don’t have that much media so this is definitely different. The Media Day stuff was a lot of fun. I’m just trying to enjoy it. I don’t find it intimidating; I just try cheapjerseys to have as much fun with it as I can with it because it doesn’t happen that often.

I have to do something at the Friday Night Lights thing that is going to be on TV. There will be some musical acts and they are doing some interviews with some of the players. I like country music, but it’s not my favorite kind of music. I like a lot of House music.

It’s kind of cool too that this is being noticed back home in Switzerland. They know about the All-Star Game and they like the All-Star Game. Mark Streit and Jonas Hiller Jerseys have already played in the All-Star Game. I think it’s good for Swiss hockey. There are more guys coming from Switzerland to the NHL so something like this can only help because it gives so me more attention to hockey and the people in Switzerland love hockey.

There has been a lot of stuff going on already and so much more to come. We have the skills competition on Saturday and that should be a lot of fun and then the game on Sunday and that will be amazing.

I’ve already starting thinking a little bit about how it is going to be when all the Predators players step on the ice and how the game in general will be. It’ll be a lot of fun if we got James Neal Jerseys, Shea Weber Jerseys, Pekka Rinne Jerseys and myself on the ice at the same time somehow. I think the people would like that here in Nashville.

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Duke Williams on Pats tilt: ‘We’re going to get it done’ August 9, 2016

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The last time Buffalo faced the Patriots, Tom Brady Jerseys ripped through the Bills secondary for nearly 500 yards and three touchdowns.
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Did Rex Ryan’s players take that personally? “Of course,” said safety Duke Williams Jerseys ahead of Monday night’s rematch, per The Buffalo News.

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“When someone puts up numbers like that on a defense like ours, it’s a concern,” Williams said. “We’re better than we were then. We went back, watched film, watched our mistakes and figured out what we need to do better. And we’re going to get it done on Monday.”

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That Week 2 matchup saw wideout Julian Edelman Jerseys haul in 11 catches for 97 yards and two touchdowns, while breakout satellite back Dion Lewis ran for 40 yards and a score while piling up another 98 yards through the air. With both out of commission, cornerback Stephon Gilmore Jerseys acknowledged, per ESPN.com, that tight end Rob Gronkowski Jerseys becomes the unquestioned point of focus, saying: “We got a game plan to take him out of the game. We’re gonna be ready for him.”

That wasn’t the case in September, seahawks jersey cheap when Gronk sliced through the Bills for 113 of Brady’s 466 yards, the most real estate allowed in a single game in Bills franchise history.

It’s easy to assume New England will keep rolling no matter who they plug in, but losing Lewis and Edelman in back-to-back weeks limits what the Patriots can do on offense, leading play-caller Josh McDaniels to remind us, per the Boston Herald: “There’s nobody that’s going to go in and just take Julian’s place.”

From that angle, Buffalo’s task is less formidable than it was in early September, but Ryan knows the game boils down to the Bills handling their own business, saying of the early season romp: “We’re better than that. We are better than that.”

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Richardson among 2015 Draft class’ surprise success stories July 27, 2016

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Now Josh Richardson has official recognition, the Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month announced Tuesday for his March with the Heat that was as impressive as it was unlikely. He’s now only the fourth newcomer to be singled out this season and the first from outside the top 11 selections in the 2015 Draft. (Karl-Anthony Town of the Minnesota Timberwolves won again in the West as excellence continues to be routine.)

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Richardson was a second-round pick who spent a lot of time on the bench and the NBA D-League early in 2015-16 and yet has emerged as a key figure for a Miami team deep in the East playoff race.

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Nuggets center Nikola Jokic has gone from the 2014 second-rounder to a debut season of near-constant production in Denver. T.J. McConnell cheap motels in jersey city nj of the Philadelphia 76ers Jerseys wasn’t drafted at all and is second among rookies in assists while being dependable with the ball (2.57-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio) while shooting 47.2 percent.

And the start by Rondae Hollis-Jefferson of the Brooklyn Nets showed he had a chance to rank among the best first-year players if not for the fractured right ankle that cost him 50 games.

On and on as the annual reminder that while the biggest names from the Draft usually set the pace for Kia Rookie of the Year, it is possible to come from far back in the pack to make an immediate contribution. There could even be a top 10 of the best of the rest, players who stepped up after being selected outside the lottery.

1. Jokic (Pick 41 in 2014).

2. Richardson (40).

3. Bobby Portis, Chicago Bulls Jerseys (22): While his role and production has faded, his good play around midseason was especially valuable as Chicago dealt with injuries in the front court.

4. Jonathon Simmons, San Antonio Spurs (undrafted in 2012): With little chance to carve out a spot in the rotation on a team filled with veterans, he has had good moments on defense and shot 49.8 percent, including 42.9 behind the arc, in 14.3 minutes.

5. McConnell (undrafted): Being so efficient with the ball is not piling up numbers on a bad team. There is no downplaying what he has done.

McConnell Spin Cycle

T.J. McConnell spins off the defender and makes the smooth lay-in.

6. Hollis-Jefferson (23): With his defense and solid shooting, he could have stayed among the 10 best rookies, lottery or not, the entire season if not for the ankle injury.

Big Time Block

Dante Cunningham gets out on the break and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson flies back for the block at the rim.

7. Raul Neto, Utah Jazz (47 in 2013): Second among rookies in 3-point shooting, seventh in steals and ninth in assists while starting 53 times for a possible playoff team.

8. Jerian Grant, New York Knicks Jerseys (19): The shooting has been a big problem, but the assist-to-turnover ratio of 2-to-1 shows he can be a dependable backup distributor for years to come.

Grant Tips It In

Jerian Grant drives to the basket and misses the layup but tips in his own shot to beat the buzzer.

9. Larry Nance Jr., Los Angeles Lakers (27): He was among the 10 best rookies for a while, but the energy, holding his man to about the same shooting percentage as the opponent had against the rest of the league and sound shot selection indicate someone who could beat long odds and last.

10. Norman Powell, Toronto Raptors (46): The defense has been pretty good all along, but Powell sneaks on the list thanks almost entirely to a big March and April, on offense as well, while suddenly playing a big role and even starting for the No. 2 team in the East.

Joseph Beats the Clock

Norman Powell gets inside and kicks it out to Cory Joseph who beats the shot clock with a clutch three.

As for the next-to-last Ladder, with players from any part of the Draft board:

1. Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota Timberwolves

Last week’s ranking: No. 1

Kia Awards: Karl-Anthony Towns

Karl-Anthony Towns is a nominee for the Kia Western Conference Rookie of the Month.

We’re at five in a row and counting for Western Conference Rookie of the Month honors after his March numbers of 21.9 points, 10.5 points and 58.2 percent shooting. Since it may come up: Damian Lillard, in 2012-13, was the last player to sweep the season. Blake Griffin (2010-11), Chris Paul (2005-06) and LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony (2003-04) also did it when the award was handed out for the East and West while Tim Duncan (1997-98), David Robinson (1989-90) and Ralph Sampson (1983-84) similarly dominated when the league recognized one player regardless of conference.

2. Kristaps Porzingis, New York Knicks Jerseys

Last week’s ranking: No. 2

Porzingis Nominated for March Rookie of the Month

Kristaps Porzingis is a nominee for the Kia Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month.

This may take a big lean at the tape to hold on to second place. Porzingis shot just 39.8 percent in March and then missed three games in a row with a strained right shoulder. He is still making an impact on defense, though, with multiple blocks in four of the last six appearances and at least eight rebounds on the defensive side in three of the six. The Knicks have raised the possibility he won’t play again this season, but Porzingis said he hopes to return soon from the shoulder injury.

3. Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets

Last week’s ranking: No. 3

He is averaging 8.7 rebounds the last nine games, an especially encouraging development for the Nuggets because it was not an area of strength early in the season. Not only that, but his average on the boards has come in just 24.3 minutes a game. At 6.8 per outing overall, he needs to keep up the recent pace to catch Jahlil Okafor (7.0) for third in the class. Jokic has also had a good finish in blocked shots, although his defense apart from that statistic has been good all along.

4. Justise Winslow, Miami Heat Jerseys

Last week’s ranking: No. 4

Winslow Does It All

Justise Winslow gets the steal, runs down the court, and drains the and-one layup.

The constant selling point that keeps Winslow in the top five (even without the kind of sparkling numbers that usually generate league-wide support)?: he has done one thing well the entire season, and sometimes very well, a claim few other rookies can make. His ability to defend two positions has been a positive for a playoff team, not to mention the ability to immediately come in and handle fourth-quarter minutes in what would have been his sophomore season at Duke. The question is whether he has done enough on offense — 42.5 percent from the field, 6.5 points — to make first-team All-Rookie.

5. Devin Booker, Phoenix Suns

Last week’s ranking: No. 5

Booker Scores 34

Watch the highlights from Devin Booker who scores 34 points in the Suns loss to the Hawks.

The 22.4 points the last 10 outings looks great, except that Booker is shooting 42.3 percent, including 31.0 percent behind the arc, in the same time while his defense has become a topic of jokes. (Interim coach Earl Watson suggested a book to read. Booker replied he did not read books often, to which Watson replied, via Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic, “He also said he was a great defender earlier in the year. We know that wasn’t true.”) Booker is up to 13.7 points for the season, fourth in the class, as well as sixth in three-point shooting and fifth in assists.

6. Jahlil Okafor, Philadelphia 76ers Jerseys

Last week’s ranking: No. 7

Okafor, like Towns, will be the first rookie to average at least 17 points, seven rebounds and one block since Pau Gasol in 2001-02. Okafor will be the first 76er rookie to ever do it.

7. D’Angelo Russell, Los Angeles Lakers

Last week’s ranking: No. 6

Russell Finds Black

D’Angelo Russell lobs the ball to Tarik Black for the alley-oop dunk.

Why Okafor can climb a spot while injured. Russell continues to regress from the 45.9 percent overall and 46.2 percent on 3-pointers in February with an assist-to-turnover ratio of 2.22-to-1 to the last 15 games at 36 percent overall, 30.6 percent behind the arc and 1.18-1. The ball handling and distributing has gotten so bad that he has as many or more turnovers than assists in seven of the last nine outings, dropping his season-long assist-to-turnover ratio to just 1.40-1. Russell does remain first in steals among rookies, third in assists, fifth in scoring and fifth in 3-point shooting.

8. Myles Turner, Indiana Pacers Jerseys

Last week’s ranking: No. 8

Turner Throws It Down

Rodney Stuckey feeds Myles Turner who throws down the nasty dunk.

He has at least one block in nine consecutive games, a nice run, but has not recorded multiple blocks since March 24 against the New Orleans Pelicans, seven games ago. Turner has a good chance to hold his spot in the top 20 in the league when the regular season ends, as well as third among rookies, and could be in the top 10 in blocks per 48 minutes in the real sign of his impact in that department the second half of the season. His best work lately, while struggling with his shot, has come in averaging 7.7 rebounds in 25.3 minutes the last 10 games.

9. Josh Richardson, Miami Heat Jerseys

Last week’s ranking: No. 9

Richardson should easily finish No. 1 in the class in 3-point percentage, at an astonishing 50 percent (comfortably ahead of the 42.9 percent of second-place of Simmons), but won’t have enough makes behind the arc to qualify among the league leaders. (His 50 percent would lead the entire NBA if he had reached the minimum.) He finished March at an amazing 58.9 percent, as well as 53.2 percent overall and 12 points per game, to continue the amazing second-half ride by winning Rookie of the Month for the East.

10. Trey Lyles, Utah Jazz

Last week’s ranking: No. 10

Lyles With The Alley-Oop Dunk

Trey Lyles goes up for the two-handed jam.

The shooting percentage the last three full months: 47.5, 45.1 and 46.4, and often with range. That’s an impressive finish even with the small February role of 10.2 minutes. Now, the Jazz are giving him the biggest opportunity yet with the playoffs on the line in the ultimate sign of confidence, playing Lyles 23.1 minutes the last six games. No wonder. The power forward is shooting 43.5 from 3-point range during that span.

Dropped out: None. Trending

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Ovechkin calls All-Star captaincy ‘huge honor’ July 15, 2016

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Alex Ovechkin Jerseys already this season became the top Russian goal-scorer in NHL history and is about to reach 500 in his career.

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Saturday, the Washington Capitals forward added a captain’s role at this month’s 2016 Honda NHL All-Star Game.

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Ovechkin, who has 21 goals and 13 assists in 36 games this season, was thankful for the selection, voted by fans.

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“It’s a huge honor,” said Ovechkin, who will play in his sixth All-Star Game. “It’s always nice to see when people are voting for you.”

Ovechkin, Jaromir Jagr Jerseys of the Florida Panthers Jerseys, Patrick Kane Jerseys of the Chicago Blackhawks and John Scott Jerseys of the Arizona Coyotes are the first four players to earn spots into the All-Star Game in Nashville on Jan. 31, courtesy of fan balloting in the 2016 NHL All-Star Fan Vote.

From Dec. 1 through Jan. 1, fans around the world were able to cast their votes at NHL.com/vote and via a mobile ballot for one player from each of the four divisions, with the top vote-getter for each division earning an All-Star berth as division captain.

Ovechkin finished first among all players in the Metropolitan Division, Kane topped the Central, Jagr led the Atlantic, and Scott paced the Pacific.

Fans were permitted to select as few as one www cheap jersey us player and a maximum of four players per ballot, without regard to position. The maximum number of ballots cast per day for each user was 10.

As part of the new format for the 2016 Honda NHL All-Star Game, the All-Stars will take part in a three-game tournament, played in a 3-on-3 format, and featuring four teams representing each NHL division.

“Obviously it’s going to be harder, playing 3-on-3,” Ovechkin said. “鈥?You have to work hard.”

The remaining 40 players for the four All-Star rosters, which consists of six forwards, three defensemen and two goaltenders per team, www cheap jersey us will be determined by the NHL Hockey Operations Department and announced on Wednesday, Jan. 6.

The coach of the team with the highest points percentage (points earned divided by total possible points) in each of the four divisions through games of Saturday, Jan. 9, the halfway point of the regular season, will coach the All-Stars.

The Capitals, coached by Barry Trotz, are second in the League and lead the Metropolitan Division with 58 points.

“Hopefully I’m going to have a lot more ice time if [Barry] is going to be there,” Ovechkin said. “Or less ice time. We’ll see.”

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Kirk Cousins, Redskins embarrass Saints in beatdown July 1, 2016

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In a game that was likely to be a last resort for both teams to save their season, Washington absolutely embarrassed the Saints in Landover, 47-14.

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1. Washington offensive line coach Bill Callahan is a genius when it comes to blocking schemes. This is a fact. But that does not at all excuse the Saints’ defense on Sunday, which was absolutely embarrassed by a series of gouging screens and draws that led to 27 first-half points alone. Kirk Cousins Jerseys is a starting-level NFL quarterback, but he is not the kind of quarterback that should be putting up 297 yards and three touchdowns AT HALFTIME. Washington had their second-highest yardage total within the first half hour. This will all eventually fall on the shoulders of defensive coordinator Rob Ryan. Over the years, I’ve been one of his biggest defenders and was a firm believer in the versatile run/pass secondary he was building in New Orleans. Those days are just about over. The Saints need to start thinking about a change.

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2. As an extension of our first point, the Saints look like an absolute mess sometimes. Coaches argue with one another and players argue with coaches, but it happens on an incredibly consistent basis for a franchise that is still viewed as “stable” by some. Brees waved off the punt team on Sunday deep in New Orleans’ own territory and went on to sling a pass two yards short of the marker. Washington was up so many points, they didn’t know if it was proper etiquette to kick a field goal up 44-14 or to go for it on fourth-and-3.

3. At 4-5, Washington finds itself in an interesting position here, with games against the Giants, Eagles and Cowboys (2) still remaining on their schedule. Consistency has been the issue all season long, but if they can play half as efficient against the Panthers next week and against the Giants the following Sunday, Gruden and Co. could at least add to the absolute traffic jam atop the division.

4. Why was Drew Brees Jerseys in at the end of the game down 47-14? On the broadcast, the crew mentioned that Garrett Grayson would likely remain on the bench because he’s still not familiar with the playbook. Would this not be a great opportunity to test it live? And really, what’s the worst thing that could have happened? The Saints might give up some more points? Grayson might throw another two interceptions? The team was just begging to add insult to injury on a very, very ugly Sunday. Poor Tim Hightower had to run out the clock once it was clear they were keeping Brees in specifically for handoffs.

5. This was a game between two teams more than likely not heading to the playoffs; however, they were two young teams with some very promising young talent to build off. Washington guard Brandon Scherff, running back Matt Jones and wide receiver cheap seahawks jerseys Jamison Crowder — how good was the top half of that draft class, by the way? — all played well on Sunday. For New Orleans, linebacker Stephone Anthony and pass rusher Obum Gwacham both had nice games. For each team going forward, especially the Saints who have a far greater chance of running with a different coaching staff next cheap seahawks jerseys season, building blocks like these are so important. Hopefully New Orleans invests in a coordinator with a similar style so that pieces like Anthony fit in 2016.

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Mike Rizzo discusses Nationals in Q&A June 17, 2016

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Mike Rizzo is currently in his 10th year with the Nationals. He came in as an assistant general manager in July 2006, and beginning in 2007, he helped rebuild the farm system by selecting Jordan Zimmermann Jerseys and Ross Detwiler Jerseys in the Draft.

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After replacing Jim Bowden as general manager in 2009, Rizzo turned the Nationals into championship contenders by signing free agents Jayson Werth and Adam LaRoche Jerseys, drafting first-round picks Stephen Strasburg Jerseys and Bryce Harper and trading for Gio Gonzalez Jerseys and Denard Span. By turning the team around, Rizzo was able to win division titles in 2012 and ’14, but he wants more.

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MLB.com caught up with Rizzo on Thursday to talk about his time with the Nationals and his future with the team.

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MLB.com: This is your 10th year with the Nationals. Is it hard to believe you have been with the team that long?

Rizzo: As you know, time went by fast. We have done a lot of positive things with the organization. We are very proud of what we accomplished. We haven’t accomplished everything we wanted — yet. But we feel optimistic that we will someday.

MLB.com: When you first joined the team, you had to fix the farm system, which was in shambles. When did you know the farm system was in good shape?

Rizzo: When we finally got all the pieces and all the employees that we were looking to get, that’s when I knew we were going to turn the corner and put something good together.

MLB.com: What is your biggest moment with the Nationals?

Rizzo: The 2012 division title. When we won that, we celebrated harder than we ever had. It was the first championship in the D.C. area in a long time in baseball. We felt proud of that. All the hoopla around it, I thought, was really cool. You finally get to the point where we were a viable, winning, productive organization. The pride that I felt that day was probably the most pride that I’ve had to this point.

MLB.com: What is your worst moment during your 10 years with the Nationals?

Rizzo: Probably the playoff losses and the finality of it. They were gut-wrenching. That’s probably the low point. When one door closes, another one opens, however. We learned from our mistakes in our playoff losses, and I think we’ll be better for it. We feel optimistic. We not only put together a championship club on the big league level, our feeder system in the Minor Leagues can keep us viable as a championship-caliber organization for years to come.

MLB.com: How long do you want to stay as the general manager?

Rizzo: I love the job. They say when you love what you do, it’s not a job. I’ve been in baseball my whole life. This is my 35th year in professional baseball. I certainly haven’t achieved what I wanted to achieve as the president and GM of the Nationals. I’m still as optimistic and fired up to come to work every day as I’ve ever been. I’ll continue to do so.

MLB.com: Do you think your contract will be renewed by June 15?

Rizzo: I’m not going to give my contract a second thought. I do what I do. I let my resume speak for itself. The Lerners have been great to the Rizzo family. I absolutely have no concerns about the deadline that has been reported or the status of my job.

MLB.com: How do you feel about Dusty Baker being the manager of the Nationals?

Rizzo: He comes as advertised. He is a winner, communicator and energetic. He has a baseball IQ beyond description. He is a great leader for the ballclub. Our goal is to play meaningful games in September and October, and I think he is the man to do it. Baker discusses 2016 HOU@WSH: Baker breaks down upcoming season3/10/16: Nationals’ manager Dusty Baker talks about his outlook for the upcoming season and meshing his managerial style with the team

MLB.com: What do you want to see differently than last year?

Rizzo: We need to keep our guys on the field. We feel if we could keep our guys on the field, we can compete with anybody. We are chasing down the Mets this year. They are the champions of the division. We want to be the champions of the division. With a healthy Nationals team in 2016, we can compete with anybody, and we are as good as anybody.

MLB.com: Harper and Strasburg are two of your best players. Do you want to sign them long term?

Rizzo: They are two core guys that we are proud of. We scouted, signed and watched them develop into All-Star players. They are big parts of this team. We would certainly like to lock them up and be Nats for a long time.

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs. Share This Email Print + Hide Comments

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With no trade, Howard, Harden must get along June 2, 2016

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HOUSTON — Maybe they’re staying together for the sake of the kids. Or because they couldn’t agree on how to divvy up all the furniture.

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So the dysfunctional basketball marriage of Dwight Howard and James Harden continues through forced smiles and protestations that there’s anything fundamentally wrong.

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Except, of course, for that 27-28 record and view of the playoffs from the outside as the Rockets return from the All-Star break.

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Just over a week ago, their head coach labeled them a “broken” team and now, with only the trade deadline subtractions of two role players, they will try to put this Humpty Dumpty season back together again.

Howard and Harden are struck with each other for at least the last 27 games on the schedule and that is fitting because they are the ones who created this mess with a pair of delicate, fragile, yet stubborn egos.

They were brought together and sold as a superhero combination of Superman and The Beard less than three years ago and have coexisted, but not grown together.

As a Dynamic Duo off the pages of the comic books, they are Robin and Robin, because neither has the leadership qualities required to ever be Batman.

The front office will say that there was never any real effort made to peddle Howard, that is was more a case of politely listening to what other teams had to offer. But the truth is that nobody else was willing to meet general manager Daryl Morey’s asking price at the garage sale because of Howard’s $22.3 current salary, the option for 2016-17 that will soon make him a free agent and the max-level contract demands he’ll be making come summer.

The Rockets will sell the memories of just last spring when this same team pushed its way all the way to the Western Conference finals and cheapjerseys us com say that it could happen again. They have a so-called “puncher’s chance” against the elite teams of Golden State, San Antonio and Oklahoma City. But at this point that punch would have to be about as surprising as Buster Douglas beating Mike Tyson in Tokyo.

Could it happen? Anything is possible in sports. The Rockets were down by 3-1 to the Clippers and trailing by 19 points late in the third quarter of the would-be clincher nine months ago and look how that turned out. Even now sitting in ninth place in the West, they are are just two games behind the No. 6 seed Dallas.

Biggest Loser: Trade Deadline

Who came out on behind on this important day? The Starters break it down as part of their hour-long Trade Deadline Special.

But to turn this around would mean that everything the Rockets have done to this point in the season could be wiped away just because, well, they say this time they really mean it.

And oh yeah, starting Friday night in Phoenix, they play nine of their next 11 games on the road.

This is more than just the Rockets trying to salvage what’s left of a season.

It’s about Howard, at 30, with chronic back and knee problems, trying to prove that he can be the foundational player he’s always believed he is. Those last two ugly endings in Orlando and L.A. only loom larger.

It is also about Harden demonstrating that he is about more than dominating the basketball and the stat line and making himself a team-first/team-last type player. Since delivering an MVP-level performance a season ago, Harden’s greatest accomplishments have been making headlines for a $200-million endorsement deal with Adidas, whom he’s been dating and for stirring the pot behind the scenes to push coach Kevin McHale out of his job and not to mention barely playing an ounce of defense.

What’s also at stake is Morey’s grand vision of making a home-run swing during the offseason. Before the wheels started to come off way back on opening night, the plan had been to re-sign Howard and use the presence of a 1-2 punch with Harden to convince free agent Kevin Durant that the Rockets could put together a “Big Three” combination potent enough to challenge anybody in the NBA. But with what has transpired to date, Durant couldn’t be blamed for viewing the toxic atmosphere in Houston as one step short of Chernobyl. So much for dynastic fantasies.

So here they are after the trade deadline, Harden and Howard uncomfortably still together, the ones who dug this hole, now needing each other more than ever to climb out. This is when the real fun starts.

Fran Blinebury has covered the NBA since 1977. You can e-mail him here and follow him on Twitter.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting. Trending

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Charles Woodson preps for finale to 18-year career May 6, 2016

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Charles Woodson Jerseys will end his career where it began.

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The 39-year-old Pro Bowl safety will play his final NFL contest Sunday when the Oakland Raiders Jerseys visit the Kansas City Chiefs Jerseys at Arrowhead Stadium, the same location as his first NFL game in Week 1 of 1998.

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Woodson penned a farewell column for ESPN.com detailing the final installment of his NFL journey.

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“It would be easy to be distracted this week, but there’s a saying I learned a long time ago. It says: “You’ve got to keep the main thing the main thing.” The main thing, for me, is to go out and play the game,” Woodson wrote. “That means you’ve got to keep your routine. You’ve got to do all of the things that got you to this point, and you have to do them the same way. Just because it’s your last game, or last home game, the game itself isn’t going to change so you can’t change. After the season is over, things will change for me as a person, as a man; it will be different because I won’t be an NFL player anymore. kevin durant jersey cheap But for this game and the last home game a week ago, I still have to play the game. That’s why I’m able to focus on the task at hand, because this is what I do, this is what I’ve been doing all my life. I know how to separate outside things from my preparation so I’m able to play the game.”

While Baltimore Ravens Jerseys receiver Steve Smith Jerseys Sr. reversed gears on his retirement plans this week, Woodson said Sunday will be his last NFL game ever.

“I heard it from everybody: “Hey, man. You see that Steve is coming back? Go ahead, now it’s your turn to come back.” But I told them that there’s no coming back for me. I can understand Steve. He announced early on that he was done, and he was having a great year and then he had the Achilles injury and probably feels like he wasn’t able to write the script the way that he wanted to,” Woodson wrote. “So he would rather give it another go than have it end like that. For me, it’s not that way. There’s no second-guessing or going back. I was able to play the entire year, even though I had some injuries.”

Woodson discussed what it was like to compete in the NFL for 18 seasons and composed another column detailing his greatest NFL moments and toughest competition (hint: Marvin Harrison).

It is kismet that Woodson, a lock for the Hall of Fame, will go out on the same field he began his gold-jacket career. This time he hopes the score will be different — the Chiefs won in 1998, 28-8, while Woodson had seven tackles and one forced fumble.

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