Bradley’s efforts were a reminder of why he earned All-Defense first team honors last season

Twice Memphis Grizzlies guard Mike Conley tried to set a final sequence into motion, and twice Boston Celtics guard Avery Bradley wouldn’t let him get within 30 feet of the hoop. Conley had no choice but to give up the ball in the final seconds of regulation in a tied game Tuesday, and Conley never got inside the 3-point arc while watching teammate Marc Gasol miss a chance at a game winner.
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But Thomas’ jersey number reflects his favorite quarter. After Tuesday’s win, Stevens said of Thomas, “He makes big [shots]. And he likes to take big ones.”

Despite his individual success this season, Thomas has been frustrated that it hasn’t translated to team victories. Boston has now won three straight to shuffle to 16-12 overall. The Celtics sit third in the East but have nine teams lingering within four games behind them. Boston had struggled to close out wins over quality opponents this season, dropping recent heartbreakers to the Rockets, Thunder and Spurs.

Authentic Kids Kevin Zeitler Jersey Tuesday’s win came over a Grizzlies team that started the year 12-0 in games in which the score was within one possession in the final minute.

“[The Grizzlies] were punking us in the first half,” Thomas said during his on-court interview with CSN. “This might turn the season around [for Boston], for real.”

Bradley’s efforts were a reminder of why he earned All-Defense first team honors last season and why he was the top vote-getting guard, finishing third in total votes behind only San Antonio’s Kawhi Leonard and Golden State’s Draymond Green.

Bradley, who said before the season that he believes he deserves Defensive Player of the Year consideration, hasn’t exactly had a dominant defensive season.

Vikings’ lopsided loss to Colts raises plenty of questions

Here are the most significant NFL players who got banged up in Week 15:

Tyrell Williams, WR, San Diego Chargers: Williams, who got hit hard on a third-down catch in the fourth quarter, was taken to the locker room to be evaluated for a concussion.

The key play came with 11:35 left in the game. Oakland linebacker Perry Riley Jr. stripped running back Kenneth Farrow of the ball on first-and-10 from San Diego’s 16-yard line, with fellow linebacker Malcolm Smith recovering the loose ball.
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Youth Damon Severson Jersey San Diego’s defense held tough, forcing the Raiders to settle for a Sebastian Janikowski 20-yard field goal, tying the game at 16.

After forcing the Chargers to punt on the ensuing possession, the Raiders marched down the field and took the lead for good on a Janikowski 44-yard field goal.

The Chargers had one last shot late, but Philip Rivers threw his league-high 18th interception to Oakland safety Reggie Nelson attempting to get the ball to Dontrelle Inman on fourth down from his own territory.

Janikowski finished with four field goals.

San Diego has lost six games this season after leading in the fourth quarter, most in the NFL.

At 5-9 on the year, the Chargers are officially eliminated from playoff contention.

Oakland defeated the Chargers for the fourth straight time. The Chargers dropped to 1-12 in the AFC West since November 2014 and 7-16 in the division during Mike McCoy’s tenure as head coach.

Roughly 80 percent of the announced crowd of 68,352 — the largest crowd at Qualcomm this season — appeared to be clad in silver and black. The Chargers were enthusiastically booed when they took the field before kickoff.

The crowd was so tilted in Oakland’s favor that the Chargers did not announce the team’s starting lineup.

Mack should have more shots at Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers with San Diego’s banged-up offensive line

Limited Manti Te’o Jersey “He’s probably old enough to be a lot of our fathers, but he does an amazing job of being a big part of the fabric of our locker room. I don’t think I truly appreciate him enough. I don’t think any of us will truly appreciate how special he is until after he’s done playing.”

And the only NFL player ever to score at least 1,000 points for two franchises still has some work to do. To his records of 44 consecutive made field goals (ended last month against Tennessee) and 234 career postseason points, he wants to add the league’s all-time regular-season scoring record — he needs 188 points to pass Morten Andersen’s total of 2,544.

“If I’m fortunate enough to play two more years after this,” Vinatieri says, “and I could potentially get the record, I think I’ll bow out at that point. I don’t have any aspirations to play until I’m 50 years old.”

Mack should have more shots at Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers with San Diego’s banged-up offensive line and Rivers’ declaration earlier this season that he wanted to take deep shots against the Raiders.

“We pride ourselves on that, not letting guys throw the ball over the top,” Mack said. “We’ve given up a few here and there, but it’s all about getting better. Learning from your mistakes and learning from the week before, the game before.”

Elite Bobby Portis Jersey Indeed, Oakland’s defense has improved as well, moving from the 32nd and last-ranked total defense in the league to No. 30. Not a huge leap by any stretch, but the unit is getting stops late in games.

“We’re making strides, man,” Mack said. “We’re making strides. I wouldn’t say ‘proud.’ But we’re making strides. Just looking forward to this next challenge.”

As in, win and they’re in.

If the Raiders (10-3) beat the Chargers (5-8) at Qualcomm Stadium, they will clinch their first playoff spot since 2002, which ended with a Super Bowl loss at … Qualcomm Stadium.

“It’s always in your mind, because that’s the goal — you want to definitely be in the playoffs,” Mack said. “But at the same time, it’s not easy to do. It’s no easy task, and the challenge is to go out and try to clinch that, by any means.”

Bosa surely would agree with that sentiment.

Somebody rearranged the Super Bowl 50 statues to say ‘OOPS’ and ‘UP R BOWEL’

When we last checked in with the Super Bowl 50 statue in San Francisco’s Alamo Square, the letters had been rearranged to say “SUPERB OWL.” Overnight, it appears things escalated, with the Painted Ladies looking on.

Meanwhile, via Hoodline, the sign at Twin Peaks has been changed to “UP R BOWEL.”

This is just the latest in a string of vandalism against the giant “50” statues that have been popping up across San Francisco. This week, City Hall’s statue was changed to say “SUP BRO.” Alamo Square’s was vandalized the night it went up, cleaned up and then tagged again with the words “F*** ED LEE” shortly afterwards.

The people of San Francisco do not appear to be happy to have these statues going up, and with the Super Bowl more than a week away, expect more to come.

North Dakota State quarterback Carson Wentz was the headline player of this year’s Senior Bowl. Physically, Wentz has all the tools you want in a franchise quarterback. The week for Wentz began with an impressive weigh-in where he came in at just under 6’5 1/4 and 233 pounds. Senior Bowl Executive Director Phil Savage said Wentz could be a top-10 pick this year.

“Physically I’ve got a lot to offer with being able to make all of the throws and then some athleticism that people probably wouldn’t expect from a big 6’5 kid like me,” Wentz said. “Then, obviously the system we ran at North Dakota State was very pro-style, multiple, so I’m looking forward to that transitioning and helping me going forward.”

The system helps Wentz. The size and athleticism helps Wentz. He’s worth discussing as a high first-round pick because of those things. But Wentz didn’t exactly dazzle with his accuracy during the week. He missed several easy passes on Tuesday and looked best throwing short over the middle and on slants the rest of the week. Did Wentz have some good red zone completions? He did, particularly on one red zone pass placed on the back shoulder of Michigan State wide receiver Aaron Burbridge.

The week for Wentz was good. It was not great. From a player who some in the NFL expect to be the first quarterback taken in the draft, it’s not unreasonable to expect much more.

Michael Sam invited to NFL Veteran Combine

Michael Sam is going to get another look from NFL scouts and executives March 22 in the NFL Veteran Combine, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN. The report was confirmed by Cyd Zeigler at Outsports.

Sam, who was drafted by the St. Louis Rams as a seventh-round draft pick in 2014, was cut in training camp and signed to the Dallas Cowboys’ practice squad. He was released without playing in a game.

This is the first Veteran’s Combine and will be held in Tempe, Ariz. Approximately 100 players will be chosen to take part in the proceedings, helping a few guys enjoy another opportunity. In the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine, Sam struggled with a slow 40-yard dash time of 4.91. Going into the event, Sam was projected to be a third- to fifth-round selection, but dropped in the draft.

Sam is the first openly gay player to attempt to make a career in the NFL. The 2013 SEC Defensive Player of the Year is now on the outside looking in and earlier this week, signed on to be a contestant in ABC’s Dancing with the Stars. Sam has maintained throughout that he wants to continue playing football.

While McShay notes that the Rams’ biggest needs are probably quarterback and offensive line, neither of those positions will have highly ranked prospects available this late in the draft, so the best bet is for St. Louis to take a wide receiver at No. 10. Cooper should be a nice value pick here for the Rams. He is considered the most complete receiver and the most polished route runner in the draft.

With the Giants leaning heavily toward franchising defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, help on the offensive line becomes their biggest need here in the first round. Scherff is McShay’s highest-rated offensive lineman, and his combination of athleticism and versatility (he can line up at either guard or tackle) should provide a big upgrade up front for the Giants.

Bo Levi Mitchell and the Calgary Stampeders led a West Division sweep at the CFL awards banquet Thursday night

2016 CFL stats: 51 receptions, 885 yards, nine touchdowns in 11 games

College: Notre Dame

After being waived by both the Minnesota Vikings and New England Patriots this summer, Daniels, 23, moved to the CFL and earned the outstanding rookie award. He carries some baggage following his departure from Notre Dame, but his season in Canada has proceeded without incident. “He’s the kind of guy that if he has a crazy-great game in the Grey Cup, we may never see him again [in the CFL],” Ferguson said.

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It’s not just the CFL anymore. Leagues in Germany, Japan, China and other countries have popped up as “tackle” football grows. Here are the top countries grinding it out on the gridiron.

Mitchell leads Stampeders’ sweep of CFL awards
Bo Levi Mitchell and the Calgary Stampeders led a West Division sweep at the CFL awards banquet Thursday night.
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No, I’m not suffering from an overdose of tryptophan. Consider:

The Jets (3-7) are well rested after the bye week; that’s important with so many older players. The Patriots are coming off a West Coast trip, their defense doesn’t scare anybody, Tom Brady (knee) is banged up and they probably won’t have star tight end Rob Gronkowski (chest).

The last blowout in this rivalry was the “Butt Fumble” game in 2012. The ensuing six games have been decided by seven points or fewer.

“We haven’t played anybody quite like the Jets,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said. “The players they have that we’ll have to block are very, very difficult. They’re well coached, they have good schemes. They have a lot of experienced players in the secondary. They do a great job of disguising coverages and disguising their pressures, and then dropping out of them, things like that. This will be a very challenging week for us.”

Personally, I think Fitzpatrick will play well. He will face a defense that has gone 15 quarters without a takeaway — his kind of defense.

Meanwhile, Mr. Brady is looking for his 200th career win, which would tie Peyton Manning for most combined wins (regular season and postseason) for a quarterback. In other words, Brady is chasing history while Fitzpatrick is fighting to avoid becoming it.