Power Rankings: Spurs get even, reclaim No. 1 spot

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While a lot of the league has been trying to imitate the Golden State Warriors Jerseys, playing smaller and faster, the San Antonio Spurs Jerseys have gone back to their roots.

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The Warriors are really just an evolution of how the Spurs have played over the last several seasons. Spread the floor for pick-and-rolls, get the ball moving, and make plays from all five positions. Boris Diaw is the French Draymond Green.

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But while other teams were trying to match what the Warriors have done, the Spurs have tried to counter it. They got bigger (but still more skilled) with the addition of LaMarcus Aldridge last summer and they’ve kept playing at a relatively slow pace.

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On Saturday, we saw San Antonio’s plan bear fruit with an 87-79 victory over the champs that kept the Spurs unbeaten at home and got them within three games of the top seed in the Western Conference. With Andrew Bogut out, the Warriors started Green at center. And the Spurs went to Diaw and Aldridge early and often in the low post.

It was an ugly game, but the Spurs used their size to grab 15 offensive rebounds and turn them into 24 second chance points, the second highest total the Warriors have allowed this season.

There are two more meetings between the league’s two best teams and plenty of chess moves to be played, especially if they meet in the Western Conference finals. For now, the Spurs have evened the score and taken back the No. 1 spot in the rankings.

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Last week: Warriors leading an offensive surge This time last year: Playoff picture shaping up to include a lot of new blood — The Thunder had a three-game lead for eighth place int he West, but both Kevin Durant and Serge Ibaka were done for the season. James Harden scored 50 points against Denver, Marcus Smart gave Matt Bonner a low blow, and Steve Nash announced his retirement.

Plus-minus stud: John Wall (WAS) was a plus-88 in four games last week. Plus-minus dud: Hollis Thompson (PHI) was a minus-56 in four games last week.

Hero team of the week: San Antonio (3-0) — Before they beat the champs, the Spurs handled their business against the Clippers and Blazers. Three wins against last week’s top 12 is good work. Zero team of the week: L.A. Lakers (0-2) — Other teams had more losses, but the Lakers dropped home games to the struggling Kings and Suns.

Team to watch this week: Houston — In the wake of Stickum-gate, the Rockets play three playoff teams and also host the ninth-place Jazz, whom they lead by just one game.

East vs. West: The West is 211-196 (.518) against the East in interconference games after going 9-8 (Oklahoma City was 3-0) last week.

Toughest schedules so far: 1. L.A. Lakers, 2. Indiana, 3. New Orleans Easiest schedules so far: 1. San Antonio, 2. Toronto, 3. Golden State Schedule strength is based on cumulative opponent record, and adjusted for home vs. away and days of rest before a game.

High jumps of the week: Chicago (+5), New Orleans (+3), Phoenix (+3) Free falls of the week: New York (-4), Detroit (-3), Five teams (-2)

* * *

Pace: Possessions per 48 minutes (League Rank) OffRtg: Points scored per 100 possessions (League Rank) DefRtg: Points allowed per 100 possessions (League Rank) NetRtg: Point differential per 100 possessions (League Rank)

The league has averaged 98.1 possessions (per team) per 48 minutes and 103.7 points scored per 100 possessions this season.

* * *

NBA.com’s Power Rankings, released every Monday during the season, are just one man’s opinion. If you have an issue with the rankings, or have a question or comment for John Schuhmann, send him an e-mail or contact him via Twitter.


Last week: 2 San Antonio (59-10) Pace: 96.2 (24) OffRtg: 109.0 (3) DefRtg: 95.6 (1) NetRtg: +13.4 (1) LaMarcus Aldridge is still Mr. Mid-Range, but he has the league’s fourth highest field goal percentage in the restricted area (minimum 200 attempts). He’s is on pace to take more shots there than he has in five years, and he looked comfortable in the paint against the Warriors. After holding the champs to just 37 points before halftime on Saturday, the Spurs’ first-half DefRtg (90.5) is the best since the 2003-04 Spurs (86.6). This week: @ CHA, vs. MIA, vs. MEM, @ OKC


Last week: 1 Golden State (62-7) Pace: 102.0 (2) OffRtg: 112.8 (1) DefRtg: 100.6 (4) NetRtg: +12.1 (2) The Warriors can chalk Saturday’s result to an off night from Stephen Curry, the schedule (nine games in 14 days), or the absences of Andrew Bogut and Andre Iguodala. But their 79 points in the loss (their lowest scoring game in more than two years) was as much about pace as it was about poor shooting or a lack of free throws. And as was the case in Oklahoma City last month, rebounding issues kept them from running. This week: @ MIN, vs. LAC, vs. DAL, vs. PHI


Last week: 4 Toronto (48-21) Pace: 95.4 (28) OffRtg: 107.2 (5) DefRtg: 102.5 (11) NetRtg: +4.7 (5) A four-game winning streak has the Raptors within a game of the Cavs (and holding the tie-breaker) for first place in the East. Cleveland has the easier remaining schedule, but Toronto has been playing better defense. Not only has Bismack Biyombo averaged 11.0 points, 15.0 rebounds and 3.0 blocks as a replacement starter during the streak, but the Raptors have allowed just 94 points per 100 possessions in his 127 minutes. This week: @ BOS, @ HOU, @ NOP


Last week: 3 Cleveland (49-20) Pace: 95.3 (29) OffRtg: 107.6 (4) DefRtg: 102.1 (9) NetRtg: +5.5 (4) The Cavs won a game without LeBron James (they’re 4-12 without him over the last two seasons), but also lost two games last week in which their opponents (Utah and Miami) were missing their best players. They rank 18th defensively over the last 3 weeks and could fall out of the top 10 for the season, but none of their remaining opponents rank in the top seven (and only two rank in the top 14) offensively. This week: vs. DEN, vs. MIL, @ BKN, @ NYK


Last week: 5 Atlanta (41-29) Pace: 99.1 (11) OffRtg: 103.1 (16) DefRtg: 98.7 (2) NetRtg: +4.4 (7) The Hawks have been the league’s best defensive team over the last three months, and now their offense is showing some signs of life. They’ve won 10 of their last 12 games and have scored 109 points per 100 possessions over their five-game winning streak, with an increase in their assist rate, seven guys averaging double-figures, and Kyle Korver shooting 14-for-26 from 3-point range. This week: vs. WAS, @ WAS, vs. MIL, @ DET


Last week: 7 Oklahoma City (48-22) Pace: 99.5 (8) OffRtg: 109.8 (2) DefRtg: 102.9 (12) NetRtg: +7.0 (3) Russell Westbrook messed around and got three triple-doubles last week, while Kevin Durant averaged 26.8 points, 9.5 rebounds and 7.5 assists. The Thunder won all four games, won a couple of fourth quarters against playoff teams, and have held five of their last eight opponents under a point per possession. They might not get full-strength Spurs on Saturday, with San Antonio on the second night of a back-to-back. This week: vs. HOU, vs. UTA, vs. SAS


Last week: 6 Charlotte (39-30) Pace: 97.9 (17) OffRtg: 104.5 (10) DefRtg: 101.9 (8) NetRtg: +2.6 (9) The Hornets’ winning streak came to an end and they lost at home to two West teams that are currently under .500. But they got an important win in Miami and have a 25-15 conference record that will give them the tiebreaker against the Heat if they’re even after April 13. Having spent most of March at home though, they’ll play nine of their final 12 games on the road after hosting the Spurs on Monday. This week: vs. SAS, @ BKN, @ DET, @ MIL


Last week: 10 Miami (40-29) Pace: 95.7 (26) OffRtg: 103.5 (13) DefRtg: 101.1 (6) NetRtg: +2.4 (10) Rookie Josh Richardson made just five of his 25 3-point attempts before the All-Star break, but has suddenly become the Mayor of Kaboomtown. He’s 29-for-45 from beyond the arc since the break and 22-for-30 in the last eight games. The Heat have been the most improved offensive team since the break, scoring 8.6 more points per 100 possessions than they did before it. They visit the league’s best defense on Wednesday. This week: @ NOP, @ SAS, vs. ORL


Last week: 8 L.A. Clippers (43-26) Pace: 98.2 (14) OffRtg: 106.2 (6) DefRtg: 101.6 (7) NetRtg: +4.6 (6) The Blake Griffin-less Clippers appear to be running out of gas, especially on defense. After winning 23 of their first 30 games without Griffin, allowing 99.6 points per 100 possessions, they’ve lost six of their last nine, allowing 109.7. They allowed the depleted Grizzlies and the Anthony Davis Jerseys-less Pelicans to shoot 49 percent and get to the line a combined 76 times over the weekend. This week: @ GSW, vs. POR, vs. DEN


Last week: 11 Indiana (36-33) Pace: 99.1 (10) OffRtg: 101.8 (24) DefRtg: 100.2 (3) NetRtg: +1.6 (1) After shooting below 40 percent in four of his previous five games, Paul George went for 45 points in Saturday’s loss to the Thunder, doing a lot of work off the ball. The Pacers are just a half game ahead of the ninth-place Pistons and haven’t been consistent on either end of the floor, or on the glass. But they went 3-3 against a tough stretch of opponents and now have the league’s easiest remaining schedule. This week: vs. PHI, vs. NOP, @ BKN, vs. HOU


Last week: 9 Boston (40-30) Pace: 101.3 (3) OffRtg: 103.9 (12) DefRtg: 100.7 (5) NetRtg: +3.2 (8) Before Sunday’s visit to Philly stopped the bleeding, the Celtics lost their first three games without Jae Crowder to fall out of the top four in the East. Marcus Smart shot 5-for-22 in two starts at small forward (before Brad Stevens turned to Evan Turner as the new starter) and Kelly Olynyk has shot 5-for-22 in his first three games back from his shoulder injury. But hey, Kevin Durant likes Boston a lot. This week: vs. ORL, vs. TOR, @ PHX


Last week: 17 Chicago (35-33) Pace: 98.7 (12) OffRtg: 101.4 (26) DefRtg: 102.9 (13) NetRtg: -1.5 (19) The Bulls have had Jimmy Butler, Pau Gasol and Derrick Rose in the same game just once since early February, they’re still aren’t getting much from Mike Dunleavy, and their latest starting lineup hasn’t been very good. But they’ve held on to eighth place by winning three of their last four games, completing a season sweep of the Raptors on Monday with a terrific, game-saving defensive play by Butler. This week: vs. SAC, vs. NYK, @ NYK, @ ORL


Last week: 12 Portland (36-35) Pace: 97.9 (18) OffRtg: 105.8 (7) DefRtg: 105.8 (22) NetRtg: -0.0 (14) The Blazers have lost seven of their last 10 games, allowing more than 123 points per 100 possessions in the seven losses. They have to hope that the porous defense was the result of a rough schedule: 13 games (11 of them on the road) in 23 days. Five of the seven losses were also against top-10 offenses and they have a back-to-back against two more this week. But they’re home for eight of their last 11 games. This week: vs. DAL, @ LAC, vs. PHI


Last week: 16 Utah (34-36) Pace: 93.4 (30) OffRtg: 103.0 (19) DefRtg: 102.3 (10) NetRtg: +0.7 (12) Gordon Hayward is dealing with plantar fasciitis at the wrong time, but the Jazz have won five of their last six games to stay in contact with the Blazers, Mavs and Rockets. They’ve had the league’s biggest home-road differential in DefRtg, but head into Wednesday’s game in Houston having held the Bucks to 85 points in Milwaukee on Sunday. With that win, they were the first team to finish its schedule against the opposite conference. This week: @ HOU, @ OKC, @ MIN


Last week: 14 Houston (35-35) Pace: 100.0 (7) OffRtg: 104.9 (8) DefRtg: 106.2 (23) NetRtg: -1.3 (17) It’s hard to excuse Dwight Howard’s Stickum situation when he was in under the basket at the time of Michael Beasley’s foul, walked to the table to spray his hands as Paul Millsap took his first free throw, and then asked to touch the ball before the second attempt. The Rockets are 6-4 with Donatas Motiejunas starting alongside Howard, but that successful Capela-Howard frontline hasn’t played together since Feb. 10. This week: @ OKC, vs. UTA, vs. TOR, @ IND


Last week: 13 Detroit (36-34) Pace: 97.7 (19) OffRtg: 103.1 (15) DefRtg: 103.5 (15) NetRtg: -0.4 (15) The Pistons began their nine-game homestand by allowing the Hawks to score 30 or more points in three of four quarters, including a pivotal fourth period which, essentially, has them still sitting on the outside of the East playoff picture. They hit 22 threes in weekend wins over Sacramento and Brooklyn, but the homestand gets tougher as it goes on and, against two top-10 defenses this week, they’ll need to get stops themselves. This week: vs. MIL, vs. ORL, vs. CHA, vs. ATL



Last week: 15 Memphis (40-30) Pace: 95.7 (27) OffRtg: 102.7 (20) DefRtg: 104.2 (17) NetRtg: -1.5 (18) With a four-game losing streak that included a 49-point defeat in Houston and another Matt Barnes Jerseys altercation (and suspension), it looked like the wheels had finally come off the Grizzlies’ rickety bus. But Zach Randolph’s first career triple-double fueled a big win over the Clippers, who they’re likely to face in the first round of the playoffs for the third time in five years. On Monday, they visit the Suns, who they’ve lost to twice in the last month. This week: @ PHX, @ LAL, @ SAS


Last week: 19 Dallas (35-35) Pace: 96.8 (22) OffRtg: 104.8 (9) DefRtg: 104.4 (18) NetRtg: +0.4 (13) Desperate times call for desperate measures. The Mavs started Dirk Nowitzki at center for three games last week and called on Salah Mejri for a career-high 33 minutes against Portland on Sunday. They scored 112 points in 42 minutes with Nowitzki at center and Mejri was a plus-30 in the critical win. But they missed an opportunity to pick up another win against the LeBron-less Cavs and still have a lot of work to do to hold off Utah. This week: @ POR, @ GSW, @ SAC, @ DEN


Last week: 21 Washington (34-35) Pace: 100.4 (4) OffRtg: 102.3 (22) DefRtg: 103.5 (14) NetRtg: -1.2 (16) The Wizards are still very much alive after a 4-0 week that included blowout wins over both of the teams — Detroit and Chicago — between them and a playoff spot, a comeback from 18 points down against New York, and two John Wall triple-doubles. It’s the first time they’ve held four straight opponents under a point per possession this season and they have the most improved defense since the break. This week: @ ATL, vs. ATL, vs. MIN, @ LAL


Last week: 18 Milwaukee (30-40) Pace: 96.5 (23) OffRtg: 102.4 (21) DefRtg: 105.3 (20) NetRtg: -2.9 (23) If playing a 6-foot-11 guy at point guard wasn’t enough, coach Jason Kidd is now experimenting with John Henson and Miles Plumlee on the floor together. The combination was a plus-15 in Thursday’s win over Memphis, with the Grizzlies scoring just 13 points in its 12 minutes. The Bucks themselves scored less than 20 points in four quarters (all the second or third) last week, making just 10 threes in their three games. This week: @ DET, @ CLE, @ ATL, vs. CHA


Last week: 20 Denver (29-41) Pace: 98.3 (13) OffRtg: 103.0 (18) DefRtg: 105.8 (21) NetRtg: -2.8 (21) D.J. Augustin was supplanted by a rookie as the Thunder’s back-up point guard and sent to Denver in the Randy Foye trade. But the 2016 free agent has shot 46 percent from 3-point range, averaging 13.3 points and 4.7 assists off the bench for the Nuggets, who have scored 136 points per 100 possessions in 96 minutes with Augustin and Emmanuel Mudiay on the floor together. Denver is 14-14 against the East after a 1-3 week. This week: @ CLE, vs. PHI, @ LAL, @ LAC


Last week: 25 New Orleans (26-43) Pace: 99.2 (9) OffRtg: 103.4 (14) DefRtg: 106.7 (25) NetRtg: -3.3 (26) Anthony Davis Jerseys is done for the season and set to undergo surgeries on his left knee and left shoulder. The injuries will increase his games-missed total to 68 for his first four seasons in the league, could cost him $24 million over the next five years (if he doesn’t earn an All-NBA selection), and will likely keep him from playing in the Olympics this summer. The Pelicans are 2-6 without after Sunday’s win over the Clippers. This week: vs. MIA, @ IND, vs. TOR


Last week: 23 Orlando (29-40) Pace: 97.9 (16) OffRtg: 101.4 (25) DefRtg: 104.0 (16) NetRtg: -2.6 (20) The Magic have lost seven of their last nine games and are 10-27 in 2016. But they have single-digit losses to Golden State, Charlotte, Cleveland and Toronto in the last two weeks, which could be seen as some sort of progress. With Nikola Vucevic out, Victor Oladipo is getting more shots and has averaged 24.4 points on 56 percent shooting over the last eight games, dropping 45 on the Cavs on Friday. This week: @ BOS, @ DET, @ MIA, vs. CHI


Last week: 24 Minnesota (22-47) Pace: 97.5 (20) OffRtg: 104.0 (11) DefRtg: 107.2 (27) NetRtg: -3.3 (24) Among teams with no chance of making the playoffs, the Wolves have the most to gain from the last month. Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns have played almost 2,000 minutes together already, but improved chemistry should always be the goal with the last two No. 1 picks. Both have seen an increase in their assist rate since the break and Wiggins had a couple of pick-and-roll assists to Towns in Houston on Friday. This week: vs. GSW, vs. SAC, @ WAS, vs. UTA


Last week: 26 Sacramento (27-42) Pace: 102.2 (1) OffRtg: 103.0 (17) DefRtg: 106.4 (24) NetRtg: -3.3 (25) The Kings beat the Lakers and Knicks last week to remind us that things could be worse. In between, they allowed the Pelicans and Pistons to score 119 points per 100 possessions to remind us that they have a real shot at finishing in the bottom five in defensive efficiency for the sixth time in nine seasons. They have five more games against top-10 offenses, including Sunday’s visit from the Mavs. This week: @ CHI, @ MIN, vs. PHX, vs. DAL


Last week: 22 New York (28-43) Pace: 95.9 (25) OffRtg: 102.0 (23) DefRtg: 104.9 (19) NetRtg: -2.9 (22) There never seems to be a dull moment in Carmelo Anthony’s relationship with Knicks management. Last week, he rejected the idea of Phil Jackson coaching part-time, as well as the thought of hiring Kurt Rambis before talking to other candidates. Meanwhile, the Knicks fell to 0-8 without Anthony on Sunday and have scored a paltry 97.4 points per 100 possessions with him off the floor this season. This week: @ CHI, vs. CHI, vs. CLE


Last week: 30 Phoenix (19-50) Pace: 100.4 (5) OffRtg: 99.2 (28) DefRtg: 107.6 (29) NetRtg: -8.4 (28) Good news for the Celtics: The Suns won two more games last week to draw even with Brooklyn in the standings and appear to have more winnable games (maybe three this week) remaining than the Nets do. Mirza Teletovic’s second last-second game-winner of the season was a lot like the first in that he didn’t look up at the basket until the ball was almost out of his hands. This week: vs. MEM, vs. LAL, @ SAC, vs. BOS


Last week: 29 Brooklyn (19-50) Pace: 96.9 (21) OffRtg: 101.1 (27) DefRtg: 107.5 (28) NetRtg: -6.4 (27) Bojan Bogdanovic has averaged 18.9 points with an effective field goal percentage of 58.2 percent in 11 games since being moved to the starting lineup, dropping 44 on the Sixers on Tuesday. The Nets avoided the embarrassment of losing the season series to Philly, but have allowed their opponents to shoot better than 50 percent and score 115 points per 100 possessions in their last 10 games. This week: vs. CHA, vs. CLE, vs. IND


Last week: 27 L.A. Lakers (14-55) Pace: 98.0 (15) OffRtg: 99.1 (29) DefRtg: 109.2 (30) NetRtg: -10.1 (29) Kobe Bryant missed the last two games with a sore shoulder. The Lakers’ starting lineup — with Metta World Peace in Bryant’s place — shot 10-for-42 in the two games, and Nick Young was a DNP-CD both nights. The Lakers have the league’s worst defense, but are also the only team that has three guys — Bryant, Young and Julius Randle — with an effective field goal percentage under 45 percent on at least 300 shots. This week: vs. MEM, @ PHX, vs. DEN, vs. WAS


Last week: 28 Philadelphia (9-61) Pace: 100.3 (6) OffRtg: 96.3 (30) DefRtg: 106.8 (26) NetRtg: -10.5 (30) The Sixers’ offense has improved quite a bit over the last couple of months, but they’re still set to become the first team to finish last in offensive efficiency in three straight seasons since the Bulls did it in 1998-99, ’99-00 and ’00-01. And no team has regressed more defensively since the break than this one, allowing 8.8 more points per 100 possessions than it did before the break. This week: @ IND, @ DEN, @ POR, @ GSW

Pirates focus on offensive approach at camp

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LAKELAND, Fla. — Over the winter, Pirates officials brainstormed ways to avoid another team-wide slow start at the plate. They talked about it with their players and coaches, searching for ideas.

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One idea manifested itself throughout the Pirates’ intrasquad scrimmage on Monday and carried over into their Grapefruit League opener, a 4-2 win over the Tigers on Tuesday at Joker Marchant Stadium. The Pirates are taking their offensive approach seriously in these Spring Training exhibitions.

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Spring Training: Tickets | Schedule | Information

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“The games will be about competing, not so much about finding a feel or getting the timing,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “All that work will be done early. When we go into the game, we’re going to go compete.”


To that end, the Pirates have executed five hit-and-run plays over the last two days, Hurdle said. They’ve swung aggressively at pitches in the strike zone and laid off anything too high or low. When they’ve seen pitches to hit, they’ve made solid contact.

In Monday’s Black and Gold game, that was apparent in the number of hits up the middle or to the opposite field. On Tuesday, catcher Francisco Cervelli Jerseys and shortstop Jordy Mercer Jerseys each homered in a hitter’s count. Francisco Cervelli Jerseys crosses the plate after homering on Tuesday. (Dave Arrigo/Pirates)

“It was a good first day in a lot of different areas. The games will tell us more, give us more feedback moving forward,” Hurdle said. “Time will tell, but we’ve got a plan.”

Mercer ripped a 2-0 pitch to left-center in the sixth inning. In his first at-bat of the spring, Cervelli crushed a 3-2 pitch from left-hander Matt Boyd Jerseys onto the berm beyond the left-field fence.

“I was lucky, man,” Cervelli said. “Just swing the bat, and then the ball’s gone. That’s it.”

Around the horn

• Right-handed reliever Neftali Feliz Jerseys made a good first impression, pitching a 1-2-3 fifth inning with one strikeout in his first outing of the spring. The Pirates signed Feliz, once a shutdown closer for the Rangers, to a one-year, $3.9 million deal this offseason.

• Right-hander Trey Haley also looked good in his Pirates debut, striking out two in a perfect eighth inning. Pittsburgh signed Haley, 25, as a Major League free agent this winter despite his limited experience (18 appearances) above the Double-A level in the Indians system.

Adam Berry is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs. Share This Email Print + Hide Comments

Which record for Peyton Manning is most important?

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Peyton Manning Jerseys has already accomplished plenty of notable feats during his prolific NFL tenure, but there are still a few mountains left for the 39-year-old quarterback to climb before he calls it a career. Peyton can become the all-time leader in wins for a quarterback with a triumph Sunday in Indy, and he can set the all-time passing yards mark with 284 yards.

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So, which record for Manning is the most important: Passing yards, wins or touchdowns?

Wins record makes him model of consistent excellence

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Football records are silly. Baseball has gone through the dead-ball era, the live-ball era and the steroid era, but milestones such as 3,000 hits, 500 home runs and 300 victories still mean something. Ever since the NFL was conceived in Ralph Hay’s Hupmobile showroom in 1920, the sport has become increasingly pass-heavy with each successive generation. Manning’s 72,000 yards and 540 touchdowns will lose their meaning in the future when another exceptional quarterback shatters them. I don’t pay much attention to single-season win totals, but it speaks volumes that Manning has more career victories than any quarterback in history. A model of consistent excellence, Manning is the greatest regular-season passer the game has ever seen. — Chris Wesseling

Passing yards is most telling record for Manning

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Football is the ultimate team sport, so the wins record feels too team-dependent for this answer. If we are only judging by wins, Russell Wilson Jerseys has been the best quarterback in the NFL since he was drafted. Yards is also far from perfect, but it’s the most telling Manning record because it rewards his longevity and consistency.


Manning is likely the greatest regular-season quarterback in NFL history, which sounds like a backhanded compliment. It shouldn’t be. Sixteen-game chunks are the best way we have to measure players. Manning’s ability to perform year after year without any Andrew Luck Jerseys-like slips has highlighted Manning’s incredible preparation, consistency and ability to put his team in position to win titles. Anything can happen in the playoffs, but Manning puts his team into the tournament annually with a chance to get a Super Bowl. When it comes to throwing the ball, there are quarterbacks with bigger arms and faster releases. No one has been any better moving the ball and scoring points. That’s a quarterback’s primary job. — Gregg Rosenthal

Touchdowns matter most due to record’s potential longevity

I’m tempted to say wins, but if this is Manning’s last season, the record should be broken by Tom Brady Jerseys the year after. Manning is very much in tune with his legacy and he’d like to lay down a record that will take a long time to be broken. Both his yards mark and his touchdown mark should stand for quite some time assuming Brady and Brees don’t have an insane tear in their late 30s, so we’ll go with touchdowns because, for some reason, it feels less dependent on the wide receivers he’s played with. We’re not going out on a limb here by saying Manning will go down as one of the five best quarterbacks to ever play the game, but he’s a victim of timing. Brady’s Super Bowl collection and his close distance in many of these categories makes for an interesting discussion. Touchdowns, though, should be a record that Manning keeps for quite some time. — Conor Orr

Wins make compelling case for him being best ever

Football heads regularly tell us that wins and losses should not be a stat connected to a quarterback. Gimme a break. Here are the top 10 winningest quarterbacks in history: Manning, Favre, Brady, Elway, Marino, Tarkenton, Unitas, Brees, Montana and Roethlisberger. All Hall of Famers or soon-to-be Hall of Famers. This is not a chicken or egg debate. Playing the game’s most important position, Manning and friends almost single-handedly dictated the sustained success of their respective teams for years and years. That Manning will soon top that list is a testament to his greatness and why you can make a compelling case for him being the best ever. Manning has presided over 14 teams that have won 10 or more games in a season. He is the golden ticket to relevance for any team he touches. Just ask the 2011 Colts. — Dan Hanzus

None of the above

Credit Peyton Manning Jerseys’s longevity and quality of play for allowing him to zone in on more records. However, wins aren’t a quarterback stat and passing yards are skewed because of rule changes in the modern NFL — which could lead to it being broken more quickly this time around. At this point Manning can gobble up all the records he wants, the only thing that will change the narrative of his career is another Super Bowl, or four. Peyton has been great for nearly two decades, but I really do not care about either record he could break Sunday. –Kevin Patra

All that’s left for Manning to do is win a Super Bowl. The yardage and touchdowns and regular-season wins are fine, but Peyton doesn’t want to live out the rest of his life as the brother who won fewer championships than Eli. Nearing 40, he’s only here to lift the Lombardi one more time. Throwing a few more scores won’t make up for another January disappointment. Next question. — Marc Sessler

Larry Fitzgerald: ‘It hurts to lose like this’

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Not like this.

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Larry Fitzgerald Jerseys got emotional at the podium after the Arizona Cardinals Jerseys were walloped by the steamrolling Carolina Panthers Jerseys, 49-15, lamenting the missed opportunities.

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“It hurts to lose like this, in this fashion,” he said, fighting back tears. “I love my teammates. They fought all year, through a lot of adversity, ups and downs. I’m really proud to be here, but obviously didn’t want it to end this way.”

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The biggest hurt for the 12-year pro came in how the loss unfolded. The Cards turned the ball over seven times, including six from Carson Palmer Jerseys. Fitzgerald dropped two passes Sunday after missing one on 268 targets over the past two seasons.

“I think just the performance,” he said of why it hurt. “If we’d have lost in a shootout, it was a close game, came down to the wire, they beat us on some play, it would hurt, but … we just didn’t have it today. And that really stings.”

The nfl jerseys china last time the Cardinals went this deep in the playoffs, nfl jerseys china Fitzgerald saw Santonio Holmes Jerseys make a high-wire catch to beat them in the Super Bowl. After seeing his team pummeled from the jump on Sunday, perhaps this gut punch is just as bad.

After a spectacular season, the Cards biggest stars failed to show up in the biggest moment. That’s the biggest stinger of them all.

Clippers keep on pushing forward as injured Griffin sits

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If Blake Griffin broke his hand by punching a team staffer 10 or 15 years ago, then fine, it would be yet another Los Angeles Clippers episode tucked away in the thick file and passed off as typical for a bungling organization.


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But these aren’t yesterday’s Clippers, or at least they’re not supposed to be, four years after the team received a long-awaited cortisone shot of credibility with the arrivals of coach Doc Rivers, Chris Paul and, yes, Griffin. And when the team distanced itself even further from the past once owner Donald Sterling was forcibly removed from the building, the Clippers were steamrolling in the right direction for a change.

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When Griffin sustained a broken hand last weekend that will keep him off the court for another four to six weeks, which is being tacked onto the month he just missed with a strained left quad, it was a Benoit Benjamin bounce-back to a time when the Clippers could do little right. Shouldn’t they be weary of this by now?

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Clippers vs. Hawks

Jamal Crawford scores 21 points, DeAndre Jordan adds 13 with 19 boards and the Clippers stave off the Hawks, 85-83.

While the Griffin alleged punch might be an off-court exception rather than the rule, the plain truth is the Clippers in this new era haven’t done anything special. The Clippers with Rivers, Paul and Griffin are high on promise and optimism … and low on banners of any kind. This is the team that’s supposed to get past the San Antonio Spurs Jerseys, Golden State Warriors and Oklahoma City Thunder Jerseys and finally compete for a title? Right.

To be fair, they haven’t exactly fallen off a cliff, and they’re on pace for 50 wins again, and anything can happen in the spring basketball carnival known as the NBA playoffs. When the stakes are raised in April and May, the Clippers will be in the mix — and Griffin, too — because this too shall pass. Yet you wonder what might happen should the Clippers fall shy of the conference finals or lose in the wholesale sports jerseys first round. Will Griffin’s silly shenanigans be raised in postseason conversation and result in trade talk? Will the patience in Clipperland continue to be as thick as owner Steve Ballmer’s wallet?

The good news is the Clippers have played well without Griffin, maybe better than they or anyone expected. They’ve won 14 out of 17 without their All-Star forward and believe Rivers when he says: “I would’ve taken this record healthy.”

They’re home for the next three games, including the Los Angeles Lakers tonight (10:30 ET, NBA TV) and the Chicago Bulls Jerseys on Sunday (3:30 ET, ABC). They look nothing like the team that opened the season 7-8 and was a prime candidate for a shakeup. To compensate for the loss of Griffin, Rivers is getting the near-max from just about every player in the rotation, and no surprise, Paul is the point man for the rally. The resiliency of the Clippers comes as a pleasant surprise, considering this is the same squad that gagged on a 3-1 lead to the Rockets in the 2015 Western Conference semifinals.

Blake Griffin Injury: Should Clips Be Worried?

Blake Griffin has a broken hand, so the guys analyze what lies in the Clippers’ near future.

It was then that a visibly shaken Rivers threw down the hammer, saying major changes could be in store if the team continued along this path, and the insinuation was he wouldn’t be shy about trading Paul, Griffin or DeAndre Jordan. Of course, when summer arrived and Jordan verbally committed to the Dallas Mavericks Jerseys during free agency, the Clippers blinked. Rivers and others rode to the rescue and camped out at Jordan’s house until the conflicted big man changed his mind.

For the sake of Rivers and the Clippers, they need to keep guzzling whatever they’ve been drinking without Griffin. That’s the only way they can stay within shouting distance of the leaders in the West, since keeping pace with any of them seems a stretch. Just look: San Antonio and Golden State are busy pummeling teams almost on a nightly basis, and Oklahoma City could have a healthy team in the playoffs for the first time since 2012 when they went to the NBA Finals. The Clippers, by design, are supposed to belong in that group, but oh well. At least they haven’t drifted from the pack like the Rockets.

In his dual role as GM, Rivers added Lance Stephenson, Paul Pierce and Josh Smith Jerseys last summer to spruce up the bench. Smith is already gone, shipped back to Houston; Stephenson’s jersey rarely needs washing and Pierce has been more locker-room bark than on-court bite. Yet despite this, the Clippers are 30-16 while overcoming that and Griffin.

Part of this is because, very subtly, Rivers is doing one of his better coaching performances. He has tweaked his system without Griffin and by necessity has relied less on low-post scoring and more on up-tempo play and outside shooting. That’s tough to do in midseason, but Rivers and the Clippers are pulling it off.

Woike on Griffin

Dan Woike joins Fan Duel Fantasy Insiders to discuss Blake Griffin’s injury and its effect on the Clippers.

This stretch also shows the value of Paul, who’s averaging over 18 points and is fourth in assists and producing the high level of leadership that sets him apart from most players. The hope is Paul’s body is able to hold up under the increased load.

“For me, I’ve got to lead this team,” Paul said. “We’ve got games to win. We still have a job to do.”

Rivers: “He’s one of the best competitors I’ve ever known.”

Rivers has also leaned on J.J. Redick and the guard has responded by assuming a portion of Griffin’s scoring load. Redick has averaged 17 points in December and January (with a career-best 40 against the Rockets) by not just settling for long shots, but attacking the basket perhaps more than ever in his career.

Clippers vs. Pacers

Chris Paul records 26 points and seven assists, J.J. Redick adds 19 points as the Clippers defeat the Pacers.

And Jordan is a bit more efficient lately, running more pick and rolls with Paul to average 14 points (along with 14 rebounds) in January. Overall, the Clippers took advantage of a light schedule early in Griffin’s absence and are keeping their mistakes low (only 12.6 turnovers a game, third-best in the league) to give themselves chances to win games.

Rivers doesn’t appear inclined to make a major trade by the February 18th deadline. Had the Clippers continued along their slow start, maybe. But playing well without Griffin has given Rivers a greater sense of reassurance, and conventional wisdom says the Clippers will be even better once Griffin returns.

“We just have to keep it going, and that means everyone doing their part,” Rivers said. “I know Blake feels horrible about what happens, but we’ll welcome him back when he’s ready to return.”

Veteran NBA writer Shaun Powell has worked for newspapers and other publications for more than 25 years. 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

Jets’ Ehlers fourth rookie with hat trick in January

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The kids are all right.

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When the Winnipeg Jets defeated the Arizona Coyotes 5-2 on Tuesday, not only did forward Nikolaj Ehlers record his first NHL hat trick, he became the sixth rookie this season and the fourth in January with a three-goal game.

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Ehlers’ hat trick had some historical significance. He became the second teenager in Jets/Atlanta Thrashers history with a three-goal game. Ehlers (19 years, 347 days), who turns 20 on Feb. 14, is slightly older than Ilya Kovalchuk was wholesale nhl jerseys when he had a hat trick at age 19 years, 235 days, in a Dec. 6, 2002 game against the Washington Capitals.

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“Kid scored three goals, there’s not much you can say about that; he’s good,” Jets teammate Dustin Byfuglien Jerseys told the Winnipeg Free Press. “He’s been good all year. He’s just finding his way. It’s not easy to make that step and come right into the NHL. I’m happy for him and hopefully he can keep it going for us.”

Ehlers’ hat trick followed a trifecta of three-goal games by rookies earlier this month in a span of four days. Sam Reinhart Jerseys of the Buffalo Sabres kicked it off Jan. 10 against the Jets. Max Domi of the Arizona Coyotes did it against the Edmonton Oilers on Jan. 12. Then Sam Bennett of the Calgary Flames had perhaps the most dominant performance by a first-year player this season when he scored four goals Jan. 13 against the Florida Panthers.

Reinhart and Domi each turned 20 in the past year. Bennett won’t turn 20 until June 20 and became the youngest Flames player to have a four-goal game, wholesale nhl jerseys wowing his coach and teammates in the process.

“He skated so well,” coach Bob Hartley told the Calgary Sun after the game. “… Right from the start of the game he was flying out there. I’m very happy for him.”

Veteran goalie Jonas Hiller Jerseys said of Bennett: “He has so much skill and it’s not easy as a 19-year-old when all eyes are on you. And when things don’t go well it’s tough to find your way out. He found a way and it proves he can be a really great player in this League.”

Domi wasn’t the first Coyotes rookie this season with; that honor went to Anthony Duclair Jerseys, another 20-year-old, on Oct. 14 against the Anaheim Ducks. Frank Vatrano of the Boston Bruins Jerseys, the greybeard of the group at 21 but a rookie nonetheless, is the other member of the exclusive three-goal club when he had a hat trick against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Dec. 18.

With more than one-third of the NHL season remaining after the 2016 Honda NHL All-Star Game is played Sunday in Nashville, and the talented crop of young players in the League this season, it’s possible the number of rookie hat tricks could reach double digits before the Stanley Cup Playoffs begin.

Still unaccounted for on the list are the top-two picks in the 2015 NHL Draft: Connor McDavid of the Edmonton Oilers, who is expected to return to the lineup early next month after sustaining a broken left clavicle Nov. 3; and Jack Eichel of the Buffalo Sabres, who had a two-goal game Tuesday against the Ottawa Senators, his third of the season.

Ehlers, who never had scored more than one goal in an NHL game prior to Tuesday, told the Winnipeg Free Press he’s seeing results after learning to make adjustments to the League as a first-year player. He has six goals and two assists in his past seven games.

“At the beginning of the season I think it went really well,” he said. “But I’ve been saying that the League gets better and better and for you to stay on the team as well you’ve got to get better and better as well. And I didn’t do that at the beginning. I stayed the same; I didn’t get better. I took that and tried to do what I could to play a good game every night. I’ve been doing that ever since and I feel it’s been helping me a lot.”

Rams hold back Buccaneers in possible last home game

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“Keep the Rams. Keep the Rams!”

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The chant from the crowd in St. Louis resonated a lot more than any single play from the Rams’ 31-23 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Jerseys on Thursday night.


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The Rams closed out their 2015 home schedule in great fashion, showing off a style of play we expected to see a lot more this year. The question is whether they will ever play in St. Louis again, with a potential move to Los Angeles looming.

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Tavon Austin Jerseys was electric when he got the ball in open space. Aaron Donald Jerseys burnished his Defensive Player of the Year credentials with a disruptive game. And the Rams’ defense sent all sorts of pressure at Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston in a mostly routine victory.

The win puts both the Rams and Bucs at 6-8 for the season, all but extinguishing Tampa’s faint playoff hopes. It keeps alive Fisher’s hope to avoid a losing record for the first time in four seasons with the Rams. But the events of the game almost felt secondary to the strange vibe wholesale nfl jerseys surrounding it.

The “Keep the Rams!” chant occurred at various points throughout the game. It was sometimes followed by a chant disparaging Rams owner Stan Kroenke, who has been attempting to move the team to Los Angeles.

“There’s no telling what will happen, but the fans today were incredible,” Rams quarterback Case Keenum Jerseys said. “To show like they did … it was a great atmosphere tonight.”

Fisher also spoke highly of the game atmosphere after initially wondering if fans would show up for the game.

“We appreciate our fans,” Fisher wholesale nfl jerseys said. “I was a little concerned, you know, came out for warmups and thought most people were going to stay home and watch it. But, I mean, they came in. They must’ve been outside having a good time because they came in and it was great to see them. They saw a good ballgame.”

The game was a reminder that the Rams have some intriguing building blocks, even if they seem stuck in a perpetual state of mediocrity. Donald had three quarterback hits and two tackles for loss, wreaking havoc on the Tampa offense in the first half as St. Louis built its lead. Rookie running back Todd Gurley didn’t have a big game (79 yards from scrimmage), but Austin showed off his incredible moves with two more scores and 73 yards on seven touches.

The Bucs, meanwhile, couldn’t crawl back from a 21-3 halftime deficit. Rookie of the Year candidate Jameis Winston struggled with pressure and inaccuracy early. Tampa moved the ball well after halftime, eventually topping 500 yards of offense, but the Bucs ran out of time to complete a potential comeback. Winston showed off some of the gutsy throws he’s completed all year, but was not nearly consistent enough. Keenum wasn’t asked to do much, but he hit a couple nice downfield throws and only had three incompletions.

On a night where many former champion Rams players were honored, this game was a reminder how forgettable the last decade of Rams football has been. Even the nice wins come with an asterisk. This team isn’t going anywhere this season. We’ll have to wait until January to find out if it’s heading west this offseason.

Davon House: Jaguars could ‘shock a lot of people’

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Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback Davon House Jerseys has lived at both ends of the spectrum in the National Football League.

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His first four years in Green Bay were laced with a bevy of high-octane victories and playoff appearances. Not the case in Jacksonville, though, where the cover man watched the Jaguars manage just five wins last season as a bottom-feeder in the AFC.

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That’s all about to change, according to House. The 26 year old told reporters this week that Jacksonville is finally ready to make the leap.

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“It all starts off Week One,” House said, per The Florida Times-Union. “If we make a statement in Week One, we’re going to shock a lot of people in this league. How come we can’t be the Carolina Panthers of this year? No one thought Carolina would be 15-1.”

Nobody thinks the Jaguars will, either, but House has reasons for hope.

It’s fair to be skeptical, but Jacksonville has plenty of talent, starting with an offense led by promising young passer Blake Bortles Jerseys.

On defense, a horde of offseason additions will help a unit that repeatedly let them down in 2015. Tackle Malik Jackson Jerseys, free safety wholesale nfl jerseys china Tashaun Gipson Jerseys and cornerback Prince Amukamara Jerseys can all make an immediate impact. Scanning the roster, there’s talent — or potential — at almost every position.

Most importantly, owner Shad Khan has patiently refused to panic, giving general manager David Caldwell and coach Gus Bradley the time to develop a squad that looks ready to compete in the AFC. It’s premature to ticket the Jags for January play, but House isn’t the only believer in NFL circles.

Cavs move on, Pistons learn lessons in first round

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DETROIT — Reggie Jackson, Andre Drummond, Marcus Morris and the rest of the Detroit Pistons Jerseys walked out of The Palace of Auburn Hills in the wee hours of Monday morning with their heads high.

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LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love and the rest of the Cleveland Cavaliers Jerseys walked out with their heads attached. Various body parts were present and accounted for, too, and no one had a discernible limp.

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But I think we were tough. I’m proud of the way we fought all series, I’m proud of the way we played all season.

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– Detroit Pistons Jerseys guard Reggie Jackson

Consider it two missions accomplished then as the Cavaliers advanced, the Pistons learned and both teams reaped benefits from their first-round series.

The young Pistons did as much as they possibly could do, within the parameters of a sweep, to earn respect and gain experience that will make next spring an entirely different proposition.

Pistons Discuss Game 4 Loss

The Detroit Pistons Jerseys meet with the media after Sunday’s disappointing Game 4 loss to Cleveland.

The veteran Cavaliers got tested, their taste for playoff basketball renewed by a scrappy rival that stayed close, played physical and pushed the defending conference champions right up till the final second of the final game. But they got all that done in the minimum possible time, 192 minutes stretched across eight days. Which meant: No extra games.

No additional opportunities for something to go wrong. No needless exposure to injuries. Cleveland got pushed plenty by the plucky Piston but in the end, they were efficient, they were effective, they were effusive.

Now they are 12 months and worlds away from the 2015 postseason that lasted so long but exacted such a high price.

Love was done after Game 4 of the first round, his left shoulder scheduled for surgery after getting tied up by Boston’s Kelly Olynyk. Irving was gimping around like Uncle Drew portrayed by Fred Sanford, his moves and quickness hampered by injuries that would lead to his fractured left kneecap in Game 1 of The Finals. James wound up working with the understudies, Matthew Dellavedova and Tristan Thompson as surrogate sidekicks, and got the Cavs as far as they had a right to expect.

We’re not satisfied with what we’ve done, but we are happy with where we are. Being able to move on from this series knowing we’ve got 15 guys ready to go for the [next] series as it stands today.

– Cleveland Cavaliers Jerseys star LeBron James

Bodies proved brittle, dreams wound up shattered.

“At this point last year, it wasn’t a good feeling,” James said after Cleveland beat Detroit 100-98. “Even though we had swept Boston, knowing that Kev was pretty much done for the season or was going to be out six to eight weeks, whatever the case may be. It was a big blow for our team, a huge blow. And knowing that Kyrie was hobbled as well and J.R. [Smith] was suspended for two games [of the next round] — it wasn’t a good feeling in our locker room even though we had advanced.”


“It’s the total opposite,” James said. “We’re not satisfied with what we’ve done, but we are happy with where we are. Being able to move on from this series knowing we’ve got 15 guys ready to go for the [next] series as it stands today. Knowing the position that we put ourselves in.

“And knowing that what these guys have done when the cameras wasn’t on, the rehab that Kev and Ky has put together throughout the summer, throughout the whole season to get to this point, is a tribute to themselves as individuals. … They wanted to get back and prove to themselves they was worthy to be in this position once again. I commend those guys. There’s a lot of guys who just don’t come back from certain injuries. These guys have come back stronger.”

Cavaliers Discuss Game 4 Victory

The Cleveland Cavaliers Jerseys discuss Sunday’s Game 4 victory over Detroit.

That’s how Cleveland looks overall now. The Big Three are healthy and meshing as well as at any point since being brought together 20 months ago. Dellavedova and Thompson are better in their roles now for being pressed into service then. The Cavs have a coach who suits James, which means Tyronn Lue also suits the rest of them, and he has impressed folks both inside and outside the team with his coaching chops and people skills.

Even Smith has been behaving, providing 3-pointers and comic relief without any excessive antics.

“We all have that connection that we all expect a lot from one another, and more or less from ourselves,” said Irving, who scored 20 of his 31 points in the second half when James and Love shot a combined 5-of-14 for 11 points. “And when we don’t get it, we’re pretty [ticked] off about it. I think that’s what makes us great. As a trio, we’re different as personalities. But we’re coming together and clicking on all cylinders … this postseason is what we’ve been preparing for.”

This postseason is one too soon for the Pistons, but it was their initial knock at the door from which they’ll profit next season. Their coach, Stan Van Gundy, was proud of how they fought to the end and prays they learned a few lessons about 50-50 balls and defensive rebounds.

Van Gundy probably caught a break with the sweep, too. He wouldn’t agree, naturally, but if wholesale nba jerseys he had to watch Love or Thompson or another Cavs player snag even one more offensive rebound, he might have needed meds.

“We took their best punches and we kept swinging back,” Detroit point guard Reggie Jackson said. “The only thing that hurt us is, we didn’t get a win and we’re not the team advancing. But I think we were tough. I’m proud of the way we fought all series, I’m proud of the way we played all season.”

Jackson was cold-blooded in his willingness to take on responsibilities, right up to his rush up the floor with no timeouts left. He was fishing for a foul as Irving shadowed him, then finally had to launch an off-balance 3-pointer that barely grazed the rim.

Irving Makes Defensive Stop

Reggie Jackson brings it up court with a chance to send it to overtime and Kyrie Irving makes a big defensive stop.

Irving had the better night and better series and, at the moment, has the best rhythm of Cleveland’s three stars. He’s the one whose season started late, 25 games in, due to his rehab from knee surgery. He’s the three-time All-Star who wasn’t in Toronto this year, the “peaks and valleys” of his comeback forcing his focus off of February and onto, well, precisely where he’s at now. He became only the second teammate to outscore James in a playoff series, according to Cleveland.com’s Joe Vardon (Dwyane Wade in the 2011 Finals was the first). Irving averaged 27.5 points to James’ 22.8 and nailed 16 of 34 3-pointers, including a halfcourt heave that beat the third-quarter horn.

There has been a fair amount of chatter already about how well the Big Three is playing together, their colors aligning like a Rubik’s cube of pick-and-rolls, penetrations-and-kicks. But the real value of James, Irving and Love is the sense of security Lue, the rest of the Cavaliers and the other two stars have, knowing that one of them can rise up any night as needed, the way Irving did Sunday.

“That’s what makes it fun,” Irving said. “When Kev grabs nine rebounds in the first quarter but doesn’t necessarily shoot that well, his effect on the game is still there and you still feel it as a team. We’re all still in it together.”

Steve Aschburner has written about the NBA since 1980. 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

Mets raise banner, thump Phils in home opener

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NEW YORK — A literal banner day for the Mets — they raised their 2015 National League pennant before the game — turned into a subdued 7-2 win over the Phillies on Friday when starting pitcher Jacob deGrom Jerseys left due to a right lat injury.

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The afternoon was no more enjoyable for the Phillies, who fell to 0-4 for the first time in a decade.


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Before departing as a medical precaution, deGrom contributed six effective innings despite reduced velocity. The Mets, in turn, gave him a lead on sixth-inning RBI hits from Neil Walker and Michael Conforto against Phillies starter Jerad Eickhoff. Walker singled home another run an inning later, and Conforto singled home two more.

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The latter two hits constituted a third bullpen meltdown in four games for the Phillies, whose 12.66 relief ERA ranks last in baseball.

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Triple-double: A troika of rapid-fire hits resulted in two runs in the sixth inning, giving the Mets the lead for good. Lucas Duda Jerseys led off the inning with a double that Statcast™ measured at 114.9 mph off the bat, his hardest-hit ball since the start of 2015. Walker followed with an RBI single, plating Duda, before Conforto sent Walker home on a double down the line. That spelled the end for Eickhoff, who had allowed merely two hits up to that point. Conforto’s RBI double PHI@NYM: Conforto drives in Walker on double to rightMichael Conforto tacks on the Mets’ second run of wholesale mlb jerseys the 6th inning as he drives an RBI double down the right-field line

Begging for offense: There are many reasons the Phillies are 0-4, but one of them certainly is the offense. It entered the afternoon 1-for-17 with runners in scoring position, and it struggled to score runs again Friday. In fact, Odubel Herrera’s single to left field to score Eickhoff from third in the sixth inning was the Phillies’ first hit with a runner in scoring position that actually scored a run this season. Herrera’s RBI single PHI@NYM: Herrera ties it up with an RBI singleOdubel Herrera ties the game at 1 in the top of the 6th inning after he rips an RBI single to left, scoring Jerad Eickhoff

deGrom sails, but ails: A possible explanation for deGrom’s relatively low velocity — he sat 91-92 mph with his fastball, topping out at 93 — surfaced after he left the game in the sixth. The Mets reported that deGrom, who threw just 76 pitches, was experiencing right lat tightness. But he proved effective in spite of the issue, striking out six Phillies without a walk. deGrom picks up first victory PHI@NYM: deGrom goes six strong for first winJacob deGrom Jerseys delivers six innings of one-run ball, striking out six against the Phillies to pick up his first win of the season

Can’t keep it close: The Phillies’ bullpen cannot stop the bleeding. After Dalier Hinojosa and Daniel Stumpf worked out of a jam in the sixth, left-hander James Russell allowed four runs in the seventh to put the game out of reach. The Phillies’ bullpen has allowed 15 earned runs in 10 2/3 innings this season. Stumpf records first MLB out PHI@NYM: Stumpf retires Flores, gets first MLB outDaniel Stumpf finishes the 6th inning by getting Wilmer Flores Jerseys to fly out, recording the first out of his Major League career

SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS Walker has driven in at least one run in all three of the Mets’ games. He was responsible for five of the Mets’ first eight RBIs this season. Walker’s second RBI single PHI@NYM: Walker goes opposite field for RBI singleNeil Walker drives in David Wright with an opposite-field single, collecting his second RBI of the game

WHAT’S NEXT Phillies: Phillies fans get their first look at hard-throwing right-hander Vincent Velasquez Jerseys — the key piece of the Ken Giles trade with Houston — in Saturday night’s game against the Mets at Citi Field. Velasquez threw the ball well in the spring, earning the No. 5 job in the rotation over left-hander Adam Morgan.

Mets: Bartolo Colon Jerseys will make his first start of the season on Saturday at 7:10 p.m. ET, looking to match Pedro Martinez for the second-most wins ever among Dominican-born pitchers. Colon recorded four outs in relief on Opening Night against the Royals, but has not pitched since.

Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his Phillies blog The Zo Zone, follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs. Share This Email Print + Hide Comments