Lou Williams loving Rockets’ offense because ‘everybody eats’

Lou Williams went from flirting with the Western Conference cellar to a contender this week, and he couldn’t be happier.

The sweet-shooting guard was sent to Houston from the Lakers before Thursday’s trade deadline, and he enjoyed a fine debut scoring 27 points off the bench in a 129-99 win against the new-look Pelicans.

Williams praised his new teammates for allowing him to find a comfortable rhythm in the offense.

“It’s easy to play with these guys,” Williams said, via the Houston Chronicle. “It’s a very open style. Everybody eats. Everybody’s happy. It fits my style.”

James Harden had been criticized for his willingness to shoot, while sometimes seemingly forgetting he had other guys on his team. But this season’s move to point guard has seen the former shooting guard re-invent his career.

If Williams continues to find open looks, he could form a dynamic backcourt duo with Harden, one of the front-runners for league MVP.

Under D’Antoni, Harden has gone from averaging 7.5 assists per game to 11.2 assists per game. That’s a 49.3 percent increase over his previous career-high. Assuming D’Antoni could do the same for Wall, he’d go from averaging 10.7 assists per game to 15.9 assists per game.

That number is obviously insane. John Stockton holds the NBA record for the most assists per game in the regular season with 14.5. He then averaged 14.2 assists per game in the following season and 13.7 the season after that. Furthermore, the only other players in NBA history who have averaged at least 13.0 assists per game in a season are Magic Johnson, Kevin Porter and Isiah Thomas. And here we are talking about Wall blowing all of them out of the water by averaging 15.9 assists per game.
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Al Horford proves worth as Celtics take control of series

Al Horford couldn’t believe his luck. With 7:56 to play in the fourth quarter and the Celtics holding to a four-point lead in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference opening round, Horford was trying to keep up with Bulls center Robin Lopez out near halfcourt as Jimmy Butler attempted to inbound the ball. Butler made the pass to Lopez just as Lopez turned to cut inside, and the ball bounced innocently past the winking Celtics leprechaun logo.

Horford thought, “Don’t screw this up.”

He collected the ball just beyond the 3-point line, took one dribble and swept in for a dunk ahead of Butler’s pursuit. The locals erupted and momentum, which had been trickling toward Boston, rapidly swung the Celtics’ way. Horford’s dunk was part of a six-minute, 20-4 run that transformed a one-point deficit into a 15-point lead, which the Celtics were able to carry to a 108-97 win and a 3-2 series advantage Wednesday night.

The Cavs prioritized health over seed, choosing to sit their stars for key games in the final week of the regular season. They will see a Pacers team coming off a five-game winning streak to end the year. Something to note: LeBron James has made the NBA Finals all five times he has been a two seed.

Toronto locked up the No. 3 seed in the East early, so DeMar DeRozan and Serge Ibaka didn’t play Wednesday night. Milwaukee wanted to have its squad at full strength as well, so coach Jason Kidd sat Giannis Antetokounmpo, Matthew Dellavedova and Tony Snell in a loss to the Celtics.

Much like the teams above, Washington and Atlanta were already comfortable in their spots before Wednesday, so the Wizards benched John Wall and Markieff Morris while the Hawks sat Dwight Howard, Dennis Schroder and Tim Hardaway Jr.falcons_004

Kato Kaelin wins $12K in Brewers 50/50 raffle

The Brewers held a 50/50 charity raffle during Monday’s 8-1 win over the visiting Orioles at Miller Park.

The raffle had a celebrity winner.

The big rumor over the long July 4 weekend was a sexy one: The Chicago Cubs are interested in Detroit Tigers ace Justin Verlander (and catcher Alex Avila).

Welcome back, Freddie Freeman. When Freeman fractured his wrist in mid-May, he was hitting an insane .341/.461/.748, and combined with his monster second half of 2016, he had established himself as perhaps the best hitter in the game. He returned to the Atlanta Braves’ lineup after just two rehab games and, sure enough, singled to center in his first at-bat. But the big news was he returned as a third baseman. He handled a routine grounder on his first chance:

Kato Kaelin, who is best-known as a witness during O.J. Simpson’s 1995 murder trial, attended the game with two family members and a friend and won the drawing.

The 6-10 Imhoff starred at the University of California under legendary coach Pete Newell. The Bears won the national championship in 1959, and Imhoff would go on to win a gold medal as a member of the 1960 U.S. Olympic team in Rome. That team, featuring future NBA stars such as Jerry West and Oscar Robertson, was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

After being selected third overall by the Knicks in the 1960 NBA Draft, Imhoff went on to a 12-year career in the league, playing with the Pistons, Lakers, 76ers, Cincinnati Royals (now the Sacramento Kings) and the Trail Blazers. Nicknamed “The Ax” for his physical play, Imhoff made the 1967 All-Star game while with the Lakers. For his career, Imhoff averaged 7.2 points and 7.6 rebounds per game.

He was a radio analyst during the Blazers’ 1977 NBA Finals victory, the only championship in franchise history.warriors_003-115x115

NFL Draft 2017: Jordan Spieth, Ryan Palmer spend first round in Saints war room

Revis’ situation is complicated, because the Jets owe him $6 million. So unless a team pays him more than $6 million, he will earn the same sitting on the couch as he would playing football. If not for that guarantee, he would probably be employed somewhere right now for $1.5 million-$2 million, but with no financial incentive, he might sit out.

Sitting out might make it harder for Revis to find a job next season, but the odds would be against him receiving a lucrative contract in 2018 even if he did play this year. There is probably no real benefit for a team to take on the injury risk. Revis could be a mid-season addition to a contender, but don’t be surprised if we don’t see him play in 2017.

Jordan Spieth and Ryan Palmer took a break from the Zurich Classic Thursday evening to hang out with the New Orleans Saints.

The duo, who are partners this week in the Zurich’s new format, were invited to join the Saints’ decision-makers in their draft war room.

Spieth and Palmer were tied for the lead after the first round. They shot a 6-under 66 in a tough alternate shot format. They shot another 6-under 66 Friday to remain in contention.

The Saints, with Spieth and Palmer on hand, used their No. 11 overall pick on former Ohio State cornerback Marshon Lattimore. They then used their No. 32 overall pick — acquired from the Patriots in the Brandin Cooks trade — on former Wisconsin offensive tackle Ryan Ramczyk.

New Orleans will be busy again Friday, with three picks on Day 2 of the draft.
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Tony Romo will probably sign with the Broncos or Texans, but there are other options

For the first time in Tony Romo’s 14-year NFL career, he’ll start the season with a team other than the Dallas Cowboys. They’ll release the veteran quarterback on Thursday, setting up the next chapter in Romo’s career and the biggest storyline of the offseason.

After signing with a team as an undrafted free agent after the 2003 NFL draft, Romo faced the possibility that he wouldn’t make the roster in his first couple seasons, but by 2005 he secured the backup job in Dallas. By October 2006 he was the starter.

Simply put, it’s time for Arsenal to thank Arsène Wenger for everything he’s done for the Gunners over the last 20 seasons — and find a new manager. For the good of the club, that’s looking more and more like the only practical option. They need to make significant changes in the club’s structure, both in terms of the team, tactical setup, and even player recruitment, and there are too many questions as to whether or not Wenger is the man to make those changes, especially in light of recent results on the pitch.

It’s time for the next era of Arsenal football. An era without Arsène Wenger. He’s had a hell of a career and deserves all the praise in the world, but the time has come to move on and find out what happens next.

Again, Wenger is a tremendously accomplished manager who has earned a world of respect during his career. He is rightfully considered to be a legend at Arsenal, and deserves all benefit of the doubt that goes along with that status. But eventually results and actions move past the level that such benefit can look past, and it feels like we’ve reached that point.

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New York Giants Shouldn’t Sign Odell Beckham Jr. Long-Term Yet

The New York Giants have plenty to worry about this offseason, but the club doesn’t have to worry about wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. right now.

On paper, the New York Giants have as much a chance to win Super Bowl LII as does any other team in the NFC. Just like the Giants, the Atlanta Falcons—the reigning conference champions—finished the regular season with a record of 11-5. The Dallas Cowboys won the NFC East, but Big Blue swept their hated division rivals in 2016. Neither the Green Bay Packers nor the Seattle Seahawks are better than the Giants as February comes to an end.

With that said, the Giants must think ahead and about the future while at the same time attempting to establish a roster capable of winning a Super Bowl title less than 12 months from today. The first player who may come to the minds of fans and analysts regarding such discussions is dynamic New York wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.

Beckham’s numbers and offensive production speak to what he has meant to the Giants since the club acquired him in the 2014 NFL Draft. The 24-year-old set records during his three seasons in the NFL, and he rapidly became a superstar known for completing one-handed catches and for featuring in national advertising campaigns. It’s not a stretch to suggest Beckham is the public face of the Giants as of the second month of 2017.

Also announced was the Giants’ punishment for using walkie talkies during a December win over Dallas: New York’s fourth-round pick falls 10 spots, from 130 to 140. The Giants already were fined $150,000 and coach Ben McAdoo $50,000.

The good news for Patriots fans is that the team gained a fifth-round compensatory pick, No. 185 overall, plus a third-rounder from the Browns (No. 103) as part of the Jamie Collins trade. Oh, and your team is Super Bowl champ and stuff.

Mr. Walter J. Sommerfelt was pointing at Bienna, and I realized he was awarding her “Best in Breed!” For the fifth time!

“It’s a lot of needing Klonopin and Xanaz,” Murray continued. “I’m gonna go to the hotel, and have a early dinner, and take a couple drinks, and go to sleep. I gotta get up early, I have to go to Pittsburgh to pick something up, then I have to drive to North Carolina and pick up two clients before we go back to Alabama.”

I asked if the clients were dogs. Murray said they were. I pet Michael one last time, and then he and Murray left the ring. He smiled, blissfully unaware that he hadn’t won, because he is a dog.

Then I turned my attention back to Bienna, who Mclaughlin had already paraded around. Mr. Walter J. Sommerfelt was pointing at Bienna, and I realized he was awarding her “Best in Breed!” For the fifth time!

The accepted maxim is that tour golfers don’t retire; they show up at fewer and fewer events, struggling more and more, until it’s time to move to the Champions Tour. Longtime Woods watchers cannot imagine Tiger, whose mantra since “Hello world” has been “in it to win it,” willing to join the over-50 gang or become more of a rubbernecker attraction than he’s already become, almost to the point where fans and media show up to see how much of a car wreck his next outing will be.

Whether Woods makes a statement announcing his retirement, or continues shuffling and grimacing around golf courses in depressing, failed attempts to make cuts for the next however many weeks, months, years, it’s pretty clear to those watching him try to recapture the long-gone glory days of the playing career of the greatest golfer of his generation, if not all time, is over.

“He might play another 10 years, but I just don’t see it if he doesn’t change his golf swing.” Brandel Chamblee on Tiger Woods injuries

2015 NFL training camp preview: Andrew Luck, Colts favored to win AFC South crown again

In recent years, the Indianapolis Colts haven’t had to worry about much when it comes to their AFC South competition. But the Colts are still looking to make improvements to overtake the other giants in the conference — especially the New England Patriots, who knocked them out of the playoffs last season and went on to win the Super Bowl.

Few have discussed whether the Tennessee Titans, Houston Texans and Jacksonville Jaguars can make things tough for them within the division. But that’s for good reason. All three of those teams are deeply flawed, even if they’ve all appeared to get better this offseason.

The Titans have a new quarterback in Marcus Mariota, the Jaguars were plenty active in free agency once again and brought in some big names like Julius Thomas and the Texans have weapons on both sides of the ball as they aim to return to the playoffs. Still, they’re going to have to make a big jump to unseat Andrew Luck and the Colts, a young and talented team that once again has the Super Bowl on their mind.

Player you’ll be buzzing about: WR Donte Moncrief – Things look much different for the Colts at wide receiver, but the coaches are raving about Moncrief. Chuck Pagano told reporters in March that “the sky is the limit” for the second-year receiver, who caught 32 passes for 444 yards and three touchdowns last season.

What to watch: Receiver isn’t the only position on offense with a lot of turnover for the Colts. At running back, Frank Gore is the presumed starter, but the rest of the depth chart will be fun to watch itself shake out with Dan Herron, Zurlon Tipton, Vick Ballard and rookie sixth-round pick Josh Robinson all battling for position.

2015 fantasy football rankings: Wide receivers for standard leagues

The pass-happy NFL has changed the way we look at receivers. Last season, there were 23 receivers with 1,000 receiving yards, while only 13 running backs hit 1,000 rushing yards. What’s more,15 receivers had double-digit receiving touchdowns, while just two backs ran the ball in for a score at least 10 times (DeMarco Murray and Marshawn Lynch). Yes, backs can also help out in the passing game, but the days of thinking you can sneak by with mediocre receivers in your fantasy league are over.

Another important aspect of fantasy leagues is how many starting receiver spots you have. If you only start two in a standard league, you can possibly get away with not going with a receiver in the first two rounds. On the other hand, three-WR leagues almost force your hand to grab one in the first 30 picks.

Hill matched McDonald’s sack output with 5.5 of his own last season. He also managed to intercept a pass just like McDonald did in 2013. Not too shabby for a backup defensive tackle, especially since Hill ended up missing three games during the regular season. Stats don’t come close to explaining Hill’s performance last season. He didn’t even start the season in McDonald’s role. That job went to former Vikings defensive tackle Kevin Williams, who signed with the Seahawks in the offseason last year. It made sense. Williams may be on the down side of his career, but he’s played three technique for a long time. He’s always been a good pass rusher inside.

Everything changed when starting nose tackle Brandon Mebane got hurt and was put on the injured reserve in Week 10. Williams moved into the starting defensive tackle role. That gave Hill a chance to show what he could do filling in as a spot duty pass rusher in Williams’ former role. That’s why those 5.5 sacks all came in the last six games of the season.

The Vikings could save $13 million in cash and against the salary cap in 2015 by releasing him

Hopefully that goes over well. It’s still exciting.”

He also seemed prepared for the Reshad Jones Authentic Womens Jersey idea of not wearing a New England uniform in 2015, though he admitted that scenario was the last thing on his mind while the Patriots were making their Super Bowl run last month.

At one point a Cleveland Browns beat writer asked him about Johnny Manziel and how last year’s must-see rookie quarterback’s first-year struggles will impact him. Winston waved it off, for one of the more refreshing moments of the 10-minute melee. He wasn’t worried about it, and reminded the audience that he was “not Johnny Manziel.” At least he wasn’t asked to “talk about” it.

The highlight of the whole affair came with just a few questions left on the clock when he reminded the huddle masses of pleated khakis about his weight.

“A lot of people thought I was fat, but I’m proving everybody wrong. I look good and I know it.”

The Vikings could save $13 million in cash and against the salary cap in 2015 by Ryan Tannehill Authentic Womens Jersey releasing him. Despite rumors over the weekend that the Vikings asked him to take a pay cut and that Peterson was seeking a trade to the Dallas Cowboys, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported that neither was true.

In 2014, there wasn’t a defensive or offensive starter that ranked among the top-14 players in special teams snap counts, per Demovsky.

He’s dealt with multiple injuries that have slowed him down and he wound up being the No. 4 receiver on a middling Dolphins team in 2014. He caught just 29 passes for 295 yards and a touchdown last season, but should be able to find a backup job somewhere in the league at 27 years old.

The advanced metrics also gave him high marks, with Pro Football Focus rating him as the eighth-best safety in the league and giving him strong grades in coverage and against the run.