Booker and the Suns believe the nights like Friday are the foundation for future success.

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Cleveland (51-27) took the game 114-91 and, with it, a one-game lead over Boston (50-28) for top seed in the East. The lead is, in effect, two games because the Cavs now hold the tiebreaker advantage.

In dismantling the Celts, the Cavaliers — who were playing the second half of a back-to-back — delivered a pretty clear message to their upstart foe and every other team that has designs on keeping the Cavs from making a third straight Finals appearance when the playoffs start next week. They still have James, and he’s still the toughest puzzle in the East to solve.

Booker and the Suns believe the nights like Friday are the foundation for future success. Watson compares where his team is now to where the Thunder were during their early start.

We won 23 games the first year, but we knew we had something with KD and Russ, Watson said. The next year we won 50 and we took off. Why can’t this team do the same?
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It’ll be tough to match the play of those early Thunder teams with Durant, Westbrook and James Harden. Following that 23-win season in 2008-09, the Thunder have won at least 45 games each season, and OKC stands at 42-31 this year even after Durant’s departure. Since the 2010-11 season (after Amar’e Stoudemire was traded to the Knicks), the Suns have only won at least 45 games once (48-34 in 2013-14).

Booker knows it won’t be easy, but don’t try to tell him he can’t do it.

I’m built for this, Booker said. It’s what I’m supposed to be doing. People gonna talk, but I’ll be over here handling business. This is only the beginning for me.

NBA trades: DeMarcus Cousins deal with Pelicans an all-around failure for Kings

Seemingly just minutes, not hours, after the 2017 All-Star Game ended, the NBA saw its biggest midseason blockbuster trade in years. The Kings — perpetually in a television sitcom-like will they or won’t they conundrum with their mercurial superstar — traded DeMarcus Cousins to the Pelicans. The full details of the deal are as follows:

Will Redmond Authentic Jersey It wasn’t just that the Kings didn’t get a great package back for Cousins. It was the way the whole thing unfolded — the embarrassment of saying Cousins would not be traded, the speed of the shift away from that statement, the way that general manager Vlade Divac said he had a better offer days ago but turned it down, and the damage done among players and agents by the treatment of Cousins.

Cousins has never been too sympathetic a figure. But the Kings’ bugling changed that.

Everyone wants to lambaste Sixers owner Bryan Colangelo over the deal the Sixers made to send Nerlens Noel to Dallas (Andrew Bogut, Justin Anderson and what’s likely to be two second-rounders was the return). That ticked off the devotees of Sam Hinkie’s approach to rebuilding in Philadelphia, most of whom have never been on board with Colangelo’s hiring.

Chandler Jones Authentic Jersey But if you’ve listened to Sixers coach Brett Brown over the last couple of years, you’ve heard him repeat the notion that the problem with the way the team was operating was that the roster was lopsided and he could not play everybody. That hinders development. It also damages trade value. That was one reason the Sixers had trouble finding a good deal for Jahlil Okafor, who is now likely to be moved in the offseason.

Kawhi Leonard to miss Spurs-Warriors showdown with concussion

When the Golden State Warriors and San Antonio Spurs square off Saturday in Texas, one of the best players in the game will be sitting on the sidelines.

The Spurs announced Friday that MVP candidate Kawhi Leonard has entered the NBA’s Concussion Protocol and will not play. Leonard was injured when he was hit in the head in Thursday’s Spurs-Thunder game.

Leonard is averaging 26.2 points, 5.9 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game with the Spurs, who trail the Warriors by two games for the top seed in the West.

Another slow tempo player whose counting stats are hurt by pace, Iwundu did everything he could to help himself in Kansas State’s two games.

Against Wake Forest, he was the driving force on both ends behind a terrific performance. On offense, his ability to slash and create for others was extremely important to Kansas State. Defensively, his ability to cover up for his teammates in help was crucial in slowing down Wake Forest’s attack, particularly against Keyshawn Woods.

Iwundu’s swing skill as an NBA player is going to be the jump shot. With some mechanical changes this year, Iwundu nearly doubled the amount of 3s he hit over the course of his first three years combined. However, the jury is still out on how effective it will be moving out to NBA 3-point range.

He affects the game in so many other ways, plus has elite size and good athleticism at his position, so he could end up making a roster without the jumper. But with it, he can become a legitimate rotation player in the league. Good stuff from him in front of scouts this week.saints_001-223x223

MLB trade rumors: Mets say they won’t trade Jacob deGrom, instantly say they may trade him

Leave it to the Mets to frustrate every single person that cares about major league baseball.

Mens Tedy Bruschi Jersey With trade rumors flying around that the Astros are zeroing in on the lofty goal that is Mets ace Jacob deGrom, GM Sandy Alderson was quick to dispel the possibility that Florida native could be on the move.
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What do we do without Jake deGrom next year? he told reporters prior to the Mets win over the Rockies Friday night via the New York Post. This is not a tear-down situation. This is what I believe is a sort of [hitting] the pause button.

Isn’t that lovely? So that’s statutory rape every time you do that, Dowd added in the 2015 interview. He had Bertolini running young women down in Florida for his satisfaction, so you know he’s just not worthy of consideration or to be a part of the game; this is not who we want in the game of baseball.

Rose denied the allegations and filed the lawsuit on July 6, 2016.

Rose further alleges that Dowd’s statements were false, Dowd knew the statements were false, Dowd made the statements with actual and common law malice, and the statements caused Rose to suffer harm to his reputation and personal humiliation, Tucker wrote in his decision.

Tucker did deny Rose’s tortuous interference claim that Dowd was trying to spike Rose’s endorsement deal with Skecher’s.

Dowd was the special counsel hired by MLB in 1989 to investigate Rose’s gambling habits. That investigation led MLB to ban the game’s all-time hits leader for life, a punishment that has kept Rose out of the Hall of Fame.

Dowd was seeking to have the suit tossed entirely, but that plea was denied.

Rose’s attorney said Friday the court’s decision is a victory because the case against Dowd will move forward.

The Bengals’ bill was going to come due eventually

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Beane and Sean McDermott have history with the Panthers, and putting him in place with McDermott instead of Doug Whaley should at least clean up the lines of communication. He’s a blank slate for the Bills for now, since they oddly made the change after the draft and, of course, free agency. There’s talent on paper, which has tended to be on the inactive list more than on the field.

Loomis is keeping the band together — Sean Payton and Drew Brees — and trying to wring one more good run out of it. A lot is riding on Adrian Peterson’s addition: not that much money, but how he affects the offense. Moving Brandin Cooks before they had to pay him was a major gamble, so the remaining receivers and the return from that trade have to do well.

The Bengals’ bill was going to come due eventually, and it arrived last season: Things were already falling apart before A.J. Green’s injury. The implosion from years of risky signings didn’t deter Brown and Marvin Lewis from grabbing Joe Mixon in the draft, though. They need to get back into contention fast (which is a tall order in the AFC North) to justify continuing on this path.
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Why it might not happen: Population does not necessarily mean baseball interest, and as appealing as Texas might be, it’s not like the Astros and Rangers haven’t had their bumps along the way. The Rangers in particular might not like the idea of adding a team in what is not their set territory but certainly is in their sphere of influence. Major League Soccer might be a better fit for a second San Antonio sports team.

Mark Schlereth jumps to FS1 after 16 years at ESPN

Longtime ESPN NFL analyst Mark Schlereth has jumped to rival FS1.

Tanner Pearson Limited Jersey The three-time Super Bowl champion lineman made his FS1 debut Tuesday morning alongside Skip Bayless, ex-Broncos teammate Shannon Sharpe and Joy Taylor on Undisputed.
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Schlereth is close to ousted FS1 boss Jamie Horowitz from their time together at ESPN. His move to FS1 from ESPN has been in the works for months, said sources. Horowitz closed the deal to bring the former player nicknamed Stink to FS1 several weeks ago, source said.

Schlereth has worked as an NFL analyst at ESPN since 2001, appearing on NFL Live, SportsCenter, Mike & Mike in the Morning and other shows. But sources said his contract was expiring at ESPN the same time the network was looking to shed 100 on-air talents/reporters. ESPN informed Schlereth his contract was not going to be renewed, freeing him to move cross-country to FS1.

I could see Fox Sports using him on both Fox NFL Sunday and Charissa Thompson’s Fox NFL Kickoff as well as the Undisputed and Speak for Yourself studio shows in Los Angeles.

So, this is a complicated deal. There is no bigger bargain in the NBA than Kevin Durant making in the range of $25 million per season in 2017-18. For the team, this is the best deal they could have possibly expected. Their superstar forward takes a pay cut from last season, gets his early Bird rights for next season and then likely re-signs long-term in Golden State. It’s a selfless gesture from one of the league’s true superstars, who could have earned up to $31.8 million this season from Golden State.

Miller is often the first person to greet him coming out of a timeout

“He usually beats me pretty good,” Miller told Sporting News. “We have fun, it gets him loose and in the right frame of mind.”

Miller’s game isn’t what it once was, and even at that, his playing style was never suited for attacking the rim against a 7-foot monster. He still got the best of though, prompting the opposing fans to cheer on the meaningless game before the real one began. “Seventeen years, still living off the jumper, brother.”

The respect the two have for each other is apparent. Miller is often the first person to greet him coming out of a timeout. It has been that way since Jokic can remember.

“He came to me first,” Jokic said. “I was young, I was a rookie (in 2015-16) and didn’t want to talk, and I didn’t want to mess with anybody. But he talked to me. To be honest, when I first met him I thought he was a little bit weird. But he’s real cool, a veteran, a leader, someone to look in front of you.”

“Just constant reps,” Powell said, when asked about his improved shooting after Game 5. “Getting extra work in in the morning, coming back late at night, watching film on Kyle Korver, Larry Bird — good 3-point shooters — and trying to make a adjustments. But it’s just the constant reps day in and day out. Trying to get get better, tweaking it here and there and finding what ‘s most comfortable for me and shooting it with confidence.”

The Celtics point guard spent Tuesday night inflicting a different kind of pain on the Wizards, scoring a career-high 53 points to lead the Celtics to a 129-119 overtime victory against Washington. Boston holds a 2-0 lead as the series heads to Washington’s Verizon Center.

“I thought he was really gonna have to gut this one out, and he not only guts it out, but he scores over 50,” Boston coach Brad Stevens said.

The best ways to use Grizzlies coach David Fizdale’s awesome catchphrases in your daily life

The Grizzlies dropped into an 0-2 hole in their first-round series with a loss Monday night against the Spurs, but Memphis coach David Fizdale definitely won his postgame press conference.

Fizdale erupted after pointing out the disparity in free throws between the two teams. The Grizzlies shot 13 of 15 from the free-throw line while the Spurs finished 31 of 32. Kawhi Leonard took more trips to the charity stripe than Memphis’ entire roster, shooting a perfect 19 of 19.

The whole rant is fantastic — and likely to make Fizdale’s wallet lighter — but two specific phrases took it to the next level: They’re not gonna rook us and the closing Take that for data.

I want to address something that really bothered me. I heard that all these nitwits, fools, idiots were complaining what I was saying about Isaiah Thomas the other night making me uncomfortable. Number one, I don’t care what y’all think. I don’t care what your mom and daddy think either, just for the record. But to insinuate what I was trying to — what I was saying, I’m uncomfortable talking about his pain and then going to basketball. For all you nitwits, scumbags, idiots, punks, to try to make that a story because y’all don’t have ratings and use my name to draw ratings, don’t do that. You don’t have any talent, it’s the simple fact, you don’t have any talent. Let me be me.

Limited Kids Shawn Lauvao Jersey I’ve talked to Isaiah. He didn’t take any offense to that. What I was talking about, I wish him and his family nothing but the best. For you punks to try to make a big deal out of it, it just pisses me off.
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Kenny Smith and Ernie Johnson both jumped to Barkley’s defense after his comments Tuesday by agreeing that it was an uncomfortable situation.

J.R. Smith, wife Shirley buy Mother’s Day flowers for entire NICU

J.R. Smith and his wife, Shirley, decided to honor all the mothers who have babies in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Cleveland Clinic Children’s on Mother’s Day by giving each woman her own bouquet of flowers.
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Shirley, who also goes by Jewel, documented the special day on her blog, describing the sweet moments and how her and J.R.’s daughter Demi was involved.

Even in Game 1 there was a moment when Marcus Smart and Tristan Thompson got into it, going chest-to-chest while barking at one another. Isaiah Thomas stepped in as well to defend his teammate and the result was a double foul on Smart and Thompson.

The talk about dirty play was a topic heading into the series. The Cavs have mostly downplayed it, especially team leader LeBron James, who wasn’t about to be baited into a question about whether Olynyk is a dirty player.
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I’m not about storylines, James said Tuesday when asked about Olynyk. We just come to play basketball. You guys are trying to create storylines. I’m not for it. The only storyline is Celtics vs. Cavs and who is going to win this series.

While the Cavs look to stay away from the violence, they are clearly expecting to see some fight out of the Celtics in the rest of the series. The key, however, will be the ability to control your emotions and not let their antics force you to retaliate.

Nationals win pitchers’ duel vs. Mets thanks to Ryan Raburn walkoff

Ryan Raburn played the hero Monday for the Nationals, providing a walk-off bloop single to left field to beat the Mets 3-2.
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Raburn, a pinch-hitter from the eighth inning, benefited from Yoenis Cespedes’ bad jump to plate the winning run. Mets manager Terry Collins announced after the game that Cespedes was again dealing with a hamstring cramp which hindered him on the play.

Smoak’s home run was the 1,070th home run in June and broke the record for most in any month in MLB history. Smoak’s homer, which came in a 7-4 loss to the Red Sox, was just one of 32 on the night, including a solo homer by A’s first baseman Matt Olson to break up Foltynewicz’s no-hit bid.
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Nationals (47-33) at Cardinals (38-41) 7:15 p.m. ET 鈥?In the midst of an underrated season, Gio Gonzalez (7-2, 2.87 ERA) will take the mound against Michael Wacha (4-3, 4.50). The Nationals are riding a two-game losing streak after losing 8-1 Friday night in St. Louis.

While Paul lacks the size of Harden to see over the top of defenders, he’s long been amongst the best pure creators in the NBA. He’s averaging 9.9 assists per game for his career on only 2.4 turnovers per game. His assist-to-turnover ratio of 3.8 last season was better than everyone in the league but Andre Iguodala.

Think of him almost as a mini-Harden who takes much better care of the ball. He can find both shooters and cutters with ease, and he knows how to make teams pay if they give him space to score. Plus, surrounding him with the same players Harden had success with last season such as Eric Gordon and Ryan Anderson should make him equally as dominant individually.