The old hat Pelicans never had an answer for Russell Westbrook.

Following a facelift, New Orleans’ new and improved frontcourt fell to 0-3 thanks to more mastery by the Thunder guard and MVP front-runner, whose triple-double train is approaching milestones set during two of the NBA’s most hallowed regular-season performances.

Westbrook again unloaded on those poor Pelicans Sunday to the tune of 41 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists — for those keeping count at home, that makes 29 triple-doubles in 59 games — as Oklahoma City surged to a 118-110 victory at home. He trails Wilt Chamberlain’s 1967-68 triple-double output by two, and, at this current pace, would finish with 40 on the year, one shy of the single-season mark set by Oscar Robertson in 1961-62.

Capela has played in under 50 games this season while dealing with injuries. The 6-10 power forward came into the contest averaging 12.1 points and 7.6 rebounds per game.
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Robert Quinn Limited Jersey Not only did Capela’s offensive outburst help the Rockets in the short-term, it will also help them in the postseason. Houston lacks a consistent physical threat in the paint, and while undersized, Capela can move some people around when motivated.

Harden continues to shine in Mike D’Antoni’s system. As a point guard, he has really found his rhythm in the offense. Harden shot 9 of 15 from the field Saturday, while knocking down 6 of 10 from 3-point range.

Four Pistons scored at least 20 points in a 136-106 win against the 76ers. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope led with 26 points. Marcus Morris added 22 points, Reggie Jackson had 21, and Tobias Harris came off the bench to score 20 points. This is the kind of balanced scoring coach Stan Van Gundy envisioned this season.

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You’re going into the Bay Area Hall of Fame this spring. You spent your NBA career outside of the Bay Area, though. What’s that honor like for you, and did you always consider yourself a Bay Area guy?

I think it’s a really great thing for me personally because for all the places I went, this was always the place that I was always connected to, even after I left. I always came back when I could for games, stayed in touch with the coaches. I had professors from school that I was still talking to throughout my career. I was always connected to the school. With USF, we were always made up of primarily Bay Area players. So there was always a lot of pride in that. I was really lucky to come here, come here with great teammates. It’s awesome.

Your recruiting class when you came to USF in the late 70s was pretty highly respected. Had you considered other schools before picking the Dons?
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Yeah, James Hardy and Winford Boynes — in fact James is going into our USF Hall of Fame this year. It’ll be great to see him. But there were three schools I was considering. I did not want to leave California. So that left UCLA, USC and USF. At that point, I really related to our coach Bob Gaillard, who played at USF and was a great athlete. And our guys — our guys were Bay Area, Northern California guys and we were pretty much tied together.

Authentic Youth Clinton Portis Jersey Before you committed to USF, there was talk that some NBA folks were trying to get you to skip college. Was that ever a real option for you?

Hield’s emergence can by no means negate the utter stupidity of Kings’ GM Vlade Divac’s decision to part ways with a three-time All-Star who’s averaged more than 20 points and 10 rebounds per game in each of the past four seasons, and still had a year left on a sweetheart of a contract, given his numbers.

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Shawn Carter has been to plenty of games at Staples Center, but some Lakers fans think he is actually one of the team’s rookies thanks to a prank carried out by the Kings’ digital staff.

In a video posted to Twitter Monday, Kings social media staffer Shahbaz Khan asked rival Lakers fans attending a Summer League game in Las Vegas about under-the-radar rookies Carter (birth name of rapper Jay-Z), and Ned Stark, a fictional character from HBO’s popular show Game of Thrones.

The most embarrassing response came from a confident Lakers fan who described himself as being a diehard since he was born. Maybe he should study up on Lakers rookies not named Lonzo Ball.

A lot has been made of how the Cavaliers are managing LeBron James this season. While he’s no longer leading the league in minutes per game, there are only 0.2 minutes separating him from Kyle Lowry in first place. That’s concerning on a number of levels, most notably because James is coming off of six straight NBA Finals appearances and has already played more minutes in his career than the likes of Charles Barkley, Steve Nash, Allen Iverson and Larry Bird.

Nick Vigil Jersey With Kevin Love now sidelined for about five more weeks, the Cavaliers basically have two options to choose from heading into the final stretch of the regular season:

As ESPN’s Zach Lowe recently said on his podcast, the latter would strengthen James’ MVP case. The former, of course, could impact James in the long-run if the Cavaliers make it to the NBA Finals for the third year in a row. We all know James can handle a ridiculous minutes load, but the Cavaliers have to ask themselves if it’s worth risking it at this stage of his career.

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Draymond Green may have had to ice his face after the Warriors’ 119-108 win over the Sixers on Monday night.

As Richaun Holmes finished off a huge alley-oop, the ball found Green’s face, and hit it — hard.

Those numbers are outrageous. However, Collins has a simple role for Gonzaga as their sixth man, and he could really help his stock by returning next season and becoming “the man.” We’ll see what happens here.

Ojeleye is a big riser this time around, as a powerful combo forward that showcases terrific defensive versatility along with a well-rounded offensive game. Not only can Ojeleye defend in a variety of situations both on the block and in switches on the perimeter, but he can also hit over 40 percent of his 3s and even create for himself off the bounce, be it in the midrange or all the way at the rim.

To pair with all of that, he’s considered an extremely hard worker. Given the way NBA teams are looking for combo forwards in order to play more versatile, perimeter-based lineups, Ojeleye will be a commodity if he decides to declare despite being 22 years old already.

In the second clip, notice where Kyle Lowry is on defense. Instead of sticking with Rozier on the cut when the Raptors hedge the initial pick-and-roll, Lowry parks himself underneath the basket to stop Thomas from getting a straight-line drive. Patrick Patterson then has to cover two players in the corner, and the Raptors panic when the Celtics start moving the ball around the perimeter following a scramble.broncos_118

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Miami is expected to sell this month, and Gordon would represent a substantial piece of that sell-off. Nightengale reported three teams have expressed interest in the speedy (32 stolen bases) leadoff man, who would be a long-term play for those clubs. (UPDATE: Heyman reports the Angels, Blue Jays and the Royals are the teams that have inqured.) Gordon three years and $37 million remaining on his contract after 2017, plus a $14 million club option ($1 million buyout) for 2021, per Cot’s Contracts. One potential drawback: age. Gordon is 29, which means he will be entering his decline phase during the latter stages of that contract.
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Darren Sproles Elite Jersey Red Sox pitcher Chris Sale may have had to take a no-decision in Saturday’s home game against the Yankees. Sale left the game with 1-0 lead in the eighth inning before the Yankees tied it in the ninth on Matt Holliday’s solo home run and then went on for a 4-1 victory over the Red Sox with three runs in the top of the 16th inning. But Sale continued his career dominance of the Yankees. He struck out 13 batters with just two walks and scattered three hits over 7 2/3 innings. Sale’s ERA against the Yankees is now 1.17 in 69 1/3 innings. After playing 16 innings on Saturday, the Yankees and Red Sox have a day-night doubleheader scheduled for Sunday.

Travis Shaw’s eighth-inning solo homer off Phillies reliever Joaquin Benoit lifted the Brewers to a 3-2 victory at Miller Park. Shaw’s go-ahead home run gave him an MLB-best 22 go-ahead RBIs this season, meaning a third of his team-high 66 RBIs have given the NL Central-leading Brewers a lead.

Cardinals right-hander Lance Lynn struck out just three and gave up eight hits, but did not allow a run in 6 1/3 innings against the Pirates. Batting left-handed, Lynn even hit an RBI double in the second inning to give St. Louis a 2-0 lead en route to a 4-0 victory.

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There’s no resting his case, however, with major West Coast competition from Dodgers’ rookie Cody Bellinger, who’s on a similar pace. Can Judge keep the gavel pounding on his legendary debut past the All-Star Break? Here’s tracking the distance of every one of his majestic homers in ’17:

No. 30, July 7 vs. Brewers: Judge hits a 432-foot solo shot to center off LHP Josh Hader in the fourth inning of a 9-4 loss. His final blast before the Home Run Derby and All-Star Game broke the Yankees’ franchise rookie record of Joe DiMaggio, set in 1936.

12,483 feet. Judge’s homers would combine to land in New Jersey, more than spanning tre length of the George Washington Bridge on its way from Yankee Stadium.

Fournette saw accelerated work as a receiver through OTAs and minicamp, and he has impressed Marrone and the coaching staff with his natural feel to that aspect. After Ivory and Yeldon consistently produced a cloud of dust last season, the Jaguars are eager to maximize Fournette’s big-play ability by getting the ball in his hands in every way possible.
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The Jaguars did not bring Denard Robinson back into the mix, and with at least one fullback needing to make the team, once Fournette has pushed aside Ivory and Yeldon, it’s matter of who becomes more expendable.

Elite Youth Pat Elflein Jersey Yeldon hasn’t show much upside, but he’s younger and cheaper and can do a little bit of everything to be an all-around backup to Fournette. Ivory’s skills are bit redundant with what Fournette can do much better on early downs between the tackles, and his age and contract weigh Ivory down further.

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Monday night’s Home Run Derby will have not only a new look, with young sluggers such as Aaron Judge and Cody Bellinger participating, but a new sound as well.
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Cubs fans had known that better than anyone, until the team snapped an 108-year drought last season. The Nationals are among the top contending teams this year, but injuries keep standing in their way.

Having already lost Trea Turner, Adam Eaton and Jayson Werth to the disabled list, Washington placed outfielder Michael Taylor on the DL Friday with an oblique strain. Oblique injuries have been all the rage in MLB this season, but the Nats could ill-afford another major loss.

Turner is out with a broken wrist. The timetable for his return is still unknown, but a multi-week absence is expected. Eaton, who the Nats acquired via a king’s ransom, is out for the season with a torn ACL. Werth is expected to start a rehab assignment soon, so he could return after the All-Star break.

Taylor, 26, had been starting in center field in place of Eaton. Many were starting to consider Taylor a bust because he had not been able to consistently take advantage of his opportunities. But this season has been different. Taylor was hitting .278 with 12 home runs and 35 RBIs before heading to the DL. He also pitched in 10 stolen bases and 40 runs scored.

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The Raptors’ sluggish performance in Monday’s Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals was nothing new, but at least it was better than the effort the Spurs displayed in a home rout to the Rockets.

Toronto dropped to 1-12 in playoff openers after falling 116-105 in Cleveland as they failed to stop LeBron James (35 points) and Kyrie Irving (24). The Raptors pulled within seven points in the third quarter before James knocked down a 3-pointer, converted a three-point play, then hit another jumper and considered washing it down with a beer.

As Lowry said, winning a ring is an important factor in his decision, but at the end of the day, you can’t ignore the money. That’s where the Raptors have an edge, as they can offer him a larger contract — five years, $205 million compared to four years, $152 million.

Although when asked if money will be in his decision-making process, Lowry said it’s not on his mind at the moment.

“I haven’t thought about any of that,” he said Monday. “Honestly, what I’ve thought about is, yes, I’ll opt out, and how I need to get better as a basketball player. That’s all I’ve thought about. And that I want a ring. That’s all that drives me.”

A ring could be possible with the Spurs, but it’s looking more unlikely with the Raptors. Expect Lowry to consider a shift to the other conference, but just because he’s thinking about it doesn’t mean he’ll jump. There are still plenty of good reasons to remain in Toronto.

10

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LeBron James wants to get the Cavaliers back to the NBA Finals for the third straight year, with a chance to repeat as champions.

But the Cavaliers are limping into the playoffs, going 10-14 since March 1 to lose control of the top seed in the Eastern Conference. James says he has the answer to turn things around, but he’s not sharing.

Hopefully the leak was solved; he had another procedure. It’s gone on for nearly two years. Very unusual, I believe, Lacob said. We feel really bad for him, the players. Everybody understands it. We just have to be in his court here and support whatever it takes for him to get back, and I’m sure they will eventually solve it. Hopefully sooner rather than later, and hopefully we’ll have him coaching on the court sooner rather than later.
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Kerr, who did not travel with the team to Utah, missed his fifth straight game Saturday night as the Warriors took down the Jazz to take a 3-0 lead in the second-round series. The 51-year-old coach also missed the first 43 games of the 2015-16 season due complications from a pair of back surgeries in the summer of 2015.

The team had been optimistic he could return at some point during the playoffs, though Kerr admitted he won’t be back until he feels like he can stay for good.

Despite his absence, the team is getting along just fine without Kerr as assistant coach Mike Brown handles the coaching duties in his absence. Golden State is 7-0 in the playoffs, the longest winning streak in a single postseason in franchise history. The Warriors could complete their second straight sweep with a Game 4 win over Utah on Monday after eliminating Portland in four games in the opening round.

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Kevin Durant said flatly after Game 1 of the Western Conference finals that, You can’t listen to people on Twitter, man. They’re irrational. And he has a point. But that doesn’t change the fact that the NBA has a problem, one that goes beyond the ankle injury suffered by star Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard on Sunday.

In case you missed it, the basics are these: With 7:55 to go in the third quarter and San Antonio leading by 21, Leonard went up for a shot in the left corner. Warriors big man Zaza Pachulia went out to challenge the shot, got a hand in the face of Leonard and had his foot come down in the vicinity of Leonard’s landing spot.

Kevin Durant doing Kevin Durant things. KD is the only Warriors starter shooting 50 percent or better from the field, and he’s grabbing the reigns of the offense with his team down 21 points midway through the second quarter. It’s not much, but it’s a sign of life.

Manu Ginobili is beating Green down the floor in transition. He is 39 years old. What is happening right now?
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Elite Youth Adam Gotsis Jersey Mike Brown calls a full timeout with 9:03 left in the second. Spurs 37, Warriors 19. San Antonio is shooting 57.7 percent (16 of 27) while the Warriors are down at 30.4 percent (7 of 24). And there’s this…

New Orleans — Retain their first rounder if 1-3 (otherwise it goes to Sacramento): This trade deadline’s biggest transaction sent DeMarcus Cousins to the Pelicans, and one of the pieces New Orleans included was their own first-round selection with top-three protection. New Orleans won’t end the season with one of the three worst records, but some good lottery luck could still be a possibility. If the Pelicans retain the pick this year, it has top-one protection from 2018 to 2020 and then would be unprotected in 2021.

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