Andre Roberson’s injury deals brutal blow to Thunder’s chances of shaking up West

With Roberson locking down the opposing team’s best perimeter threat, George was unleashed as a rover, free to wreak havoc all over the floor. He leads the league in deflections per game (4.4) and is tied for the lead in steals per game (2.2) with Bucks guard Eric Bledsoe. Now, OKC coach Billy Donovan might have to use George more frequently as the primary defender against backcourt stars and scoring forwards. But who takes Roberson’s spot?

Arizona got a bit of a break to get the game’s first goal 3 1/2 minutes into the first period when Demers’ passing attempt went off defender Kris Russell’s heel and caromed past Oilers goalie Cam Talbot.

Khaira’s short-handed goal tied it eight minutes into the game. He followed up a shot by Ryan Strome and tapped the rebound past Arizona goalie Darcy Kuemper.

The Oilers took the lead with 6:39 remaining in the first when Lucic scored on a slap shot for his 10th.

To be clear, the Big Baller Brand Challenge is a five-game showcase event with teams full of younger, less talented players than the LKL. LaMelo and LiAngelo both played limited minutes and were shut out in their official Lithuanian league debuts. It’s unlikely they’ll find success against a higher level of competition given that they are unaccustomed to facing experienced professional players.

Follow along with the Facebook Live video stream below to see how the Ball boys fared in their fifth Big Baller Brand Challenge game. (In case you’re looking for them, LaMelo is No. 1 and LiAngelo is No. 3 in the blue uniforms. LaVar is… well, you know who he is.)

“The team likes playing in front of him,” Columbus coach John Tortorella said. “There have been a few struggles here and there, but he was solid right from the get-go tonight.”

Korpisalo got some offensive help in a tight-checking game that reflected the urgency for the Blue Jackets, who are battling Florida and Carolina — both of which lost Tuesday — for the final wild card.lions_083

Dodgers glad to be back at work, away from World Series talk

We’ve got young guys who are only going to get better and veteran guys who are really performing at a high level, said Roberts, whose club plays its first spring game Friday against the Chicago White Sox. So, we’ve just got to continue to stay the course.

LHP Alex Wood worked through a scheduled bullpen Monday. A sprained right ankle, sustained Thursday, had limited him. X-rays were negative. Pitching prospect Walker Buehler, a 23-year-old right-hander, threw his first bullpen this spring on Monday.

He is the second high-profile client of agent Scott Boras to agree to a contract in the past few days. First baseman Eric Hosmer agreed to a contract with the San Diego Padres on Saturday.

So even though you may think he’s been a petulant jerk at so many stops along the way, it sucked not having him relevant for the past year or so. He was built to play in front of that tracer technology but we were getting D-grade Bubba, not the traditional Bubba, one of the greatest and most imaginative shotmakers in the history of game. This week we got Grade A Bubba, and even if you dislike the person, you had to love watching him play and perform at Riv. It was impossible not to. This has always been the Bubba paradox. Look at the cut on this one, which is pretty much standard Bubba.

In 460 career appearances, Moylan is 24-9 with four saves and a 3.00 ERA in 390? innings.

To make room for Moylan, the Braves designated right-hander Mauricio Cabrera for assignment.

Alderson has more than 30 years in the game. He knows a player who hit .226/.309/.347 as a 29-year-old in Class-A is not a major league player or a legitimate prospect. Is Tebow a conventional prospect? No, but the odds are slim to none that he improves enough to warrant a major league promotion.

Which doesn’t answer the question. If he gets called it up, it would be in September and nothing more than a publicity stunt to bring in some fans.

Miller: If not this year, probably never — how much of Tebow’s 30s is he really going to invest in being one of the worst players in the low minor leagues? So it probably has to be this year — let’s say September, if the Mets are out of contention.bears_018

A game and night unfit for man or beast was scheduled in April as per the understood demands of TV in exchange for money.

With more than eight minutes left in Saturday’s Vikings-Packers, NBC posted a graphic showing that four players had already been disabled. They were now, at the minimum, out of this game. And there were more injured to come.

But that stood to reason as, despite Roger Goodell’s claim that NFL decisions are “all about our fans,” the game was being played outdoors in zero-degree weather. Reader Allan Fredyn: “Had Goodell left his dog out on a night like that he could’ve been arrested.”

Same with Saturday’s other NFL game, Colts at Ravens, which began, outdoors, at 4:30.

If you’ve read this far, watch a red zone channel and do not recognize Siciliano’s name or picture, it’s probably because you have cable. The only way to see Siciliano is via DirecTV. The NFL Network’s RedZone Channel is available as an added pay channel for cable subscribers. The major distinction is DirecTV’s Sunday Ticket plan provides full network coverage of all Sunday afternoon games, subject to local blackout rules.

DirecTV’s version began in 2005, when the company was owned by NewsCorp (the parent company of The Post), inspired by Sky TV’s whip-around coverage of La Liga soccer games in Italy. Siciliano and founding producer James Crittenden have been there since the outset. NFL Network’s program, hosted by Scott Hanson, came along in 2009. Both are Syracuse graduates and current colleagues at NFL Network.

That means that ESPN, even in the throes of laying off hundreds, this season chose to hire Ryan either in spite of his repetitive incorrigibility, or because of it.

But just as bad, if not worse, went unspoken. The Jets then chose not to return the kickoff, ArDarius Stewart taking a knee — the original, non-protest kind — 6 yards deep in the end zone. From the 25, the Jets went into “victory formation,” ending the half.

But with a 5-7 record, down 13-0 and with three timeouts left, why not take advantage of — take a shot at — an open field to return the kick? Are long gains and TDs on kickoffs so rare as to not be worth a try, especially under such game and season circumstances?

The Heisman Trophy, like MLB’s All-Star Game, is now a bigger deal among the media, especially ESPN, than the public.

The Super Bowl’s high-mindedness this year can be found in the return of Justin Timberlake to entertain.bills_030

Jerry Jones could face disciplinary measures, if some NFL owners get their way.

There is strong and increasing sentiment among NFL owners that league leaders should take disciplinary action against Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, although that would not include attempting to strip Jones of his franchise, according to multiple people familiar with the deliberations.

Potential disciplinary measures against Jones, if he’s deemed guilty of conduct detrimental to the league, could include a fine, a suspension or the Cowboys’ loss of a draft pick or picks.

Plus, any help keeping Luck upright will only benefit the team — his passer rating dipped from 112 to 72 under pressure in 2016 with his completion rate dropping from 71 to 51 percent in those instances.

Colts’ starting running back Frank Gore will be 34 years old when the season starts, prompting the organization to use its third-round pick on a replacement, perhaps looking at University of South Florida’s Marlon Mack as a future replacement.

Mack ran for 1,187 yards with 15 touchdowns and added 28 catches out of the backfield as a junior last season. More than half of that rushing yardage (621 yards) came on runs of 15 yards or more.

Their overall record after the Super Bowl was 45-51. Gruden’s history, then, is one that elevates the team already in place, but has not put together winning seasons year after year.

It might be instructive to look at the success rate of coaches who have had long layoffs before returning to the game.

There have been five coaches who have experienced a break of at least nine years between NFL head-coaching jobs. Pete Carroll was out for 11 years — although he was a highly successful college coach in the interim — and his post-break record is 79-48-1 (with a Super Bowl title and another NFC championship), by far the most successful of the group. Chan Gailey was out 11 years and he was 16-32 after his return. Art Shell was 2-14. Joe Gibbs, a legendary Super Bowl winner, did no better than 30-34. Dick Vermeil went 66-62 (with a Super Bowl title).

Three years ago, the Trail Blazers were under enormous pressure to prove to LaMarcus Aldridge that they were all-in on acquiring proven talent to help make a championship run. The power forward was an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2014-15 season and ended up signing with the San Antonio Spurs.cowboys_103

Rodgers did not definitely say he will kneel during the national anthem on Sunday.

“You would think any reservations that you might have about hiring a young guy are right out the window now,” said a front office executive with one NFL team that is not in the head coaching market this offseason.

You know how kids, when they’re impressionable, they root for a front-runner? When the Steelers were good [in the late ’70s], I kind of got on the Steelers bandwagon, until I realized that the Redskins were the team I should be rooting for. There were people that were way bigger fans than me, but I’ve been pretty passionate about the Redskins for a long, long time. When I go to the microwave, if I want to heat something up for 45 seconds, I press 44 and I say, “Riggo,” or I push 47 and I say, “Chris Cooley.” So corny. But there’s stuff like that.

I’ve got two boys that are 16 and 18, and when I think about it, the Redskins have been mostly bad in their lives. The Saints and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were terrible when I was a kid; my kids and their entire generation think of the Redskins the same way now.

In an ESPN The Magazine profile of him in August, Rodgers said Colin Kaepernick “should be on an NFL roster right now” and “I think because of the protests, he’s not.” After Rodgers posted that photo to Instagram, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady commented with an “arm muscle” emoji, seemingly as a display of support for Rodgers’ message.

Anquan Boldin, who stepped away from football before this season to get more involved with social activism, discussed the national anthem protests at the start of ESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown and also shared this message on social media:

The Steelers’ Le’Veon Bell might be the best running back in football, but he can also line up wide. He caught 75 passes in 12 games last year, and he has another 66 catches already this season. The usage actually led to a contract dispute — Bell held out all of training camp because he wanted to be paid like a receiver. It may not be the last time the issue arises.cowboys_094

It still seems likely that one of the two will end up in San Francisco as Kelly’s replacement.

Three of their opponents on the San Francisco 49ers’ sideline — linebacker Eli Harold, safety Eric Reid and wide receiver Marquise Goodwin — also took a knee. Rams linebacker Robert Quinn raised a fist during the anthem, as did the Eagles’ Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney McLeod. As usual, they were joined by teammate Chris Long, who placed a hand of support on Jenkins’s back as he stood with his other hand over his heart. Two players, Kansas City’s Marcus Peters and Tennessee’s Rishard Matthews, remained in their locker rooms during the anthem.

“Now, if you are in a situation where you lose both your quarterbacks to injury and you have a good team … if you have a playoff-quality team and catastrophe strikes with your quarterback situation, these points are moot because now he’s your starter,” Polian said in September. “None of that applies. You can build your offense around him and it removes those issues. It’s a very small window in terms of the number of teams, and it’s a small calendar window.”

Both have interviewed with the 49ers. McDaniels interviewed with the Rams. Shanahan was scheduled to do so but had the interview canceled because of weather-related travel issues for the Rams’ contingent. The Rams, at least for now, seem to be focused on McVay, who is youthful but promising after helping Kirk Cousins to become a 4,900-yard passer this season in D.C. Neither McDaniels nor Shanahan has been linked to the Chargers’ job at this point.

But if even one of them ends up without a head coaching job, that would be a fairly major upset based on what was expected when this hiring cycle began.

Fantasy spin: Give me all of the Charles Sims. Even though Dirk Koetter did mention Jacquizz Rodgers, the expectation from most is that Sims will get a lot of work if Martin misses time. The West Virginia product has been an extremely productive player for Tampa Bay on limited touches. Sims averaged nearly five yards per carry last year and is a smooth, natural pass-catcher. Fantasy insiders are expecting big, big things from Sims even though he is far from a household name.cowboys_052

The Eagles showed their balance Sunday. Wentz threw four touchdown passes.

Kenny Golladay/T.J. Jones, WRs, Lions: I mentioned Detroit last week when the team had its bye. Golden Tate was forced out in Week 6 with a shoulder injury and after initially expected to be sidelined several weeks, Tate looks like he’s a-go (see above). Still, let’s size up the Lions’ receiving corps. Marvin Jones will occupy his usual No. 2 spot on the depth chart with Tate playing. It’s also not a great matchup as Pittsburgh is solid defensively, but given the Lions play better at home and struggle to run the ball consistently, Matthew Stafford is likely to shoulder the burden in moving the offense up and down the field.

As for Golladay, he suffered a setback Friday and looks like he won’t play Sunday. So who becomes the No. 3 option in Detroit?. Jones saw nine targets after Tate’s departure two weeks ago; he’s likely to see some opportunities Sunday.

Owners have expressed to players that they would like for the players to stand for the anthem, according to Mara. But the league’s support of players’ social programs should not be interpreted as a trade-off to get players to stand for the anthem, he said.

There’s no quid pro quo going on, Mara said. There’s no specific expectation. We want the players to stand. We want everybody to stand. But we’re not going to require them to do that.

Julius Thomas, Miami Dolphins: For the season, Thomas is the No. 19 tight end. But over the past five weeks, he’s tied for sixth, and only Jimmy Graham has more than Thomas’ three scores. But before buying all the way in on the Thomas rejuvenation, look at what his Week 14 opponent, New England, has done against the position of late. Since Week 6, the Patriots have played six games, and have allowed 170 yards total to tight ends, with no scores.

The NFL’s game operations manual notes that the national anthem must be played prior to every NFL game and that all players must be on the sideline for it. The section also states that failure to do so may result in discipline. This season, the league has declined to punish players who chose to remain in the locker room or tunnel during the anthem, and three entire teams, the Steelers, Seahawks and Titans, did so in Week 3.

Titans WR Corey Davis’ 1st NFL touchdown was a one-handed beauty against the Patriots

The Tennessee Titans got out to the start they needed against the New England Patriots Saturday in the Divisional Round.

After marching down the field, rookie Corey Davis got his first career touchdown reception after reaching out with his left hand and securing the football all the way to the ground:

But one week for Smith. One week, while Webb gets his feet wet and makes final preparations to play the last four weeks so the Giants can see what they have in the young kid, starting Dec. 10 against a beat-up Dallas team.

But this offering was too frightening to ignore. So, after staring at the picture for a few minutes in disbelief, I emailed the PR guy who sent it to me. I said, “Whoah, Max, this is nuts. What’s in the buns to make them blue?”

Max responded immediately and told me he was checking for me. I wrote back, “Thank you!!!” A few minutes later he emailed me again and said, “Through food coloring.” He included a smiley face emoji.

Few receiving partners are casing and solving NFL secondaries better than these two, who’ve had 19 games of 80 or more yards over the past two years (12 by Thielen, seven by Diggs), third in the league. Which is a pretty big deal in these parts. When Diggs passed 900 yards in Week 16 last year, they became the franchise’s first 900-yard couple since Randy Moss and Cris Carter, in 2000. And if mentioning the new guys in the same breath as those Minnesota legends feels like heresy, consider Moss’s testimony: “Vikings fans have been waiting a long time for this moment to come back.”

Any Space Jam fan will probably tell you that the Monstars didn’t need or have secret stuff. After all, why would they after absorbing the basketball skills of the NBA’s best? It was Michael Jordan who had the bottle, so in the film it read “Michael’s secret stuff.” It’s what the Tune Squad needed for motivation and, eventually, the win (that and Jordan realizing he can be super elastic for the game-winning dunk).

Saints had the perfect trick play for second down, but they used it on 3rd-and-1

The Saints faced a third-and-1 from their own 36-yard line, and decided to pull tricks out of their back pockets to get the first down, behind 20-14.

The Normal, Ill., native was anything but this week, following 27 points and 13 rebounds in a win at Iowa and 32 points to go with seven boards in a win over No. 1 Michigan State. His 135.5 offensive rating in Big Ten games ranks fourth in the league, and in league play he’s second in defensive rebounding rate and third in true shooting percentage.

But the Saints wouldn’t go away easily. Brees led his team back, converting a clutch fourth-and-10 before New Orleans kicked a 43-yard field goal with just 29 seconds to play — a kick that seemed to sentence the Vikings to another playoff loss in Minneapolis.

But one big pass from Keenum — and an embarrassing whiff from defensive back Marcus Williams gave Minnesota one last crack at the win. At first it seemed like Diggs would just gain enough yardage to set up a long field goal attempt. A split second later, it was clear he’d walk untouched into the end zone, the consequence of the biggest blown coverage of 2018.

There’s inconsistency, but the last three weeks have been something else. It’s been borderline hopeless for this team to find any kind of offense, sustained or otherwise. And at this point, there’s no Marshawn Lynch to lean on, and the defense isn’t in a position to carry them. They might get to the postseason—it will only take a home win over the Cardinals and the Panthers beating in Atlanta team that finds creative ways to lose games—but to do anything in January Seattle would need Wilson to elevate his game to a level he’s never (and maybe no one’s ever) played at before, at a time when he’s in the worst slump of his career.

A bit of history could be in the works in Seahawks-Cardinals: According to, Germain Ifedi is one flag away from being the first offensive player to draw 20 flags in a season (since 2009, which is as far back as’s database goes). So, have your camera ready for the big moment. Though I wouldn’t be surprised if they had some kind of on-field ceremony to commemorate the milestone, before the flag is sent off to Canton, of course.

He followed that sack up with a beautiful dance that included flailing arms and some hip thrusting. Five thrusts, to be specific.

You might be wondering why those thrusts (or pumps, as some refer to them as) mean anything.patriots_088_f0e4bcfcd0a8d385-180x180

The first points in Bills vs. Jaguars came on an 18-play, comedy-filled drive of errors

The Buffalo Bills caught a break near the end of the first half after being unable to get the ball in the end zone, but they didn’t quite take advantage of it in a long, exhausting, and funny drive.

The Bills called a timeout after failing to get the Jaguars to jump on fourth-and-1, which seemed like a questionable decision so close to the end zone. But it ended up paying dividends.

After Tom Brady accelerated the young corner’s education with 384 passing yards and three TDs in that AFC title game rout last January, Burns went home, took his brothers bowling and to the county fair, and returned with them to Pittsburgh, where he looked often to a certain inside linebacker for advice. He got engaged, started every game and was reestablishing the integrity of the Steelers’ secondary when Shazier was injured.

“His body control is spectacular,” Hinch says. “It allows him to cover any area on any pitch, but especially the high fastball. His bat speed is probably within an abnormally high range, and when he swings he gets the bat where he needs to get it on time.”

A fast story: Altuve faced Yankees reliever Chad Green in Game 1 of the AL Championship Series. Green threw the most difficult four-seam fastball in the league last season; batters hit just .109 against it. Altuve had seen Green only once in his career. He promptly whacked a 97.2-mph high heater from Green into leftfield for a single.

Everybody lost. At least it felt that way. Over the past four days, four of the top five teams in last week’s AP poll fell. No. 3 Arizona State lost at Colorado on Thursday. Providence took down No. 5 Xavier by nine on Saturday. North Carolina State beat No. 2 Duke by 11 that night. And No. 1 Michigan State closed the weekend out on the wrong side of an 80-64 game with Ohio State.

And that’s not to mention LSU knocking off No. 11 Texas A&M on the road thanks to a wild buzzer-beating three from freshman Tremont Waters, Colorado also ending No. 14 Arizona’s nine-game winning streak, Georgia Tech beating No. 15 Miami, No. 12 North Carolina losing both its games, and sub-.500 Stanford and Vanderbilt topping fringe Top 25 teams UCLA and Alabama, respectively. In all, 14 of 25 ranked teams suffered at least one defeat in the last seven days.

The Jaguars had to lean on T.J. Yeldon in Fournette’s absence. During the regular season, Yeldon played in 10 games, rushing 49 times for 253 yards. He also had two touchdowns on the season.patriots_038_c4275d49b20e8e2c-180x180