Month: August 2020

Steelers defense out of sorts in 42-37 loss to Chiefs

first_imgPITTSBURGH (AP) — Forget the communication issues in the secondary. The lack of a consistent pass rush. The inability to get off the field. Forget the eye-popping statistics the Pittsburgh Steelers gave up in a 42-37 loss to Kansas City on Sunday that left the two-time defending AFC North champions at an early season crossroads. Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill (10) makes a catch past Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Artie Burns (25) and takes it in for a touchdown in the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 16, 2018, in Pittsburgh. The Kansas City Chiefs won 42-37. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar) All the mistakes and missed opportunities — and there were plenty to go around — came down to one very obvious problem.“We didn’t kick enough (tail),” defensive end Cam Heyward said. “It’s as simple as that. I’m not going to sit up here and sugarcoat it. As a leader I have to be better.”Heyward is hardly the only one.A week after racking up seven sacks and helping the Steelers salvage a tie in Cleveland they perhaps didn’t deserve, Pittsburgh’s revamped defense wilted under the mid-September sun and the steady onslaught of Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes.The Steelers have been in the NFL for 86 seasons and played nearly 1,200 regular-season games. Mahomes became only the second player ever to throw for six touchdowns against Pittsburgh. Hall of Famer Jim Kelly did it for Buffalo in 1991.Mahomes did it in his third career start.Ouch.“We just didn’t cover well enough,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said. “We didn’t rush well enough. It is always collective when they are making plays in the passing game. We didn’t get after them.”Not by a long shot.Mahomes had more touchdown passes than incompletions, finishing 23 of 28 for 326 yards. The Steelers (0-1-1) only forced Kansas City to punt twice, failed to prevent a touchdown in four red-zone trips by the Chiefs and seemed completely overmatched at times.Pittsburgh played without veteran cornerback Joe Haden, nursing a hamstring injury. The Steelers started Cam Sutton in Haden’s place, but the experiment lasted barely a quarter. By then Mahomes had already thrown for three scores as Kansas City built a quick 21-point lead.On the surface, it looked much like Pittsburgh’s 45-42 loss to Jacksonville in the divisional round of the playoffs.“We felt like we gave them the 21 points,” cornerback Mike Hilton said. “They didn’t really go down and earn it on us. We had a lot of miscommunications and blown coverages that led to the 21 from the start.”The Steelers rallied behind quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, drawing to a 21-all tie by halftime. Their momentum stalled in the second half. The Chiefs (2-0), meanwhile, just kept on coming.Kansas City found the end zone on its first three possessions in each half. Rather than exploit one matchup, the Chiefs spread the ball around. Seven different Kansas City players caught passes. Five different Chiefs scored.“Those guys were getting open today,” Mahomes said. “The offensive line was blocking great, so it was making my job a lot easier.”Not that the Chiefs met with much resistance. The Steelers only forced Kansas City into five third downs all afternoon.“Every category for the defense we was below average, and you can’t beat a good team like that,” safety Sean Davis said. “We missed tackles. We gave up plays. Too many penalties.”Things won’t get any easier for Pittsburgh next week. The Steelers travel to Tampa Bay to take on the surprising Buccaneers, who are off to a 2-0 start behind resurgent Ryan Fitzpatrick. All the 35-year-old Fitzpatrick has done is go over 400 yards in each of the first two week while filling in for suspended starter Jameis Winston.Still, the Steelers (0-1-1) preached patience, not panic.“The locker room I don’t think is going to break apart,” defensive end Stephon Tuitt said. “A lot of guys are close. We just have to keep continuing to push each other. We’re going to get better. We’re going to get over this hump but we just have to continue to build and push.”Might want to hurry.“You look at the glass half full and say we’re 0-1-1, not 0-2,” Heyward said. “I’m not going to over judge. I just say we have got to get the job done.”___More AP NFL: and read more

Here Today, Gone Tomorrow…The B-17 Bomber (Observations from the Edge, with the Courier’s Lee Kann)

first_img(Courtesy Photo)If you see an anomalous metallic bird soaring overhead at low altitudes…fear not.  This is not an invasion of aliens, or Commies, or even the Canadians.  It’s the Madras Maiden, a B-17 Flying Fortress, heavy bomber from World War II.  It has been spied over the skies of Allegheny County, Lake Erie, Buffalo, and dozens of other American cities.The mighty B-17 Flying Fortress has a mission…to live on and fly another day.  It’s not dropping bombs on Dresden, Schweinfurt or Berlin anymore. Its mission now is to fly around the U.S. and save itself—and aviation history—from extinction.  But there are forces among us which might hasten the demise of the B-17 Flying Fortress.The first one is time itself.  As these shiny birds age, their flock continues to thin.  Keeping these stately bombers (of an aluminum frame and skin) aloft is expensive…roughly $5,000 an hour of flight time.  On top of that, there are no government grants or philanthropic foundations keeping them airborne.  So the cost lands on the shoulders, and wallet, of one Elton Don Brooks Jr., whose father, Elton Sr., flew in an original B-17, the Liberty Lady.  As a tail gunner during the big war, Brooks Sr. and his crew provided cover for the landing at Normandy on D-Day. To honor his father, Brooks Jr., a self-made businessman from Georgia, created the Liberty Foundation.. The second obstacle for the “17” is the FAA.  To the Federal Aviation Administration, these preserved antiques are just a pain in the aft.  The Agency is concerned about air safety…from air carriers to air terrorism.  They’re busy arguing with airlines over seating spaces and leg room.  Keeping tabs on ancient aircraft flying tourists around may leave them wishing that the damn things would just fly away and not return (without taking the tourists, I suppose).  And they may be trying to do just that by over-regulating the skies for these historical airplanes.  There are issues with trying to fit old technology aircraft into new technology aviation.“Warbirds are a very tiny sub-culture, sub set of aviation,” says captain and pilot John Shuttleworth of Indiana, of this B-17, the Madras Maiden.  “To the commercial side of aviation and to what the FAA is set up to handle, it is an annoyance.  I think they will regulate it to extinction.  It just won’t be practical anymore.”The non-profit Liberty Foundation, and others like it, fight on for their piece of pie in the sky.  Veterans are at stake here, and the memories of them.  Flying planes like the B-17, made by Boeing in 1937 (the B-24 in 1941, the B-29 in 1944…of which the atomic bomb-dropping Enola Gay was one), keeps the memories of the war and its day-to-day heroes in the public eye.  The 101-year old B-17 veteran, Michael Pllitari of Erie, took a nostalgic flight with me on the Madras Maidan recently over Lake Erie and its tree-encrusted coastline of Presque Isle Peninsula.  We flew out of Erie International Airport, where Greg Hayes has had his North Coast Flight School based for 15 years. Hayes hosted an event that brought pilots Shuttleworth and James Hammons, and the Madras Maiden (named after its birthplace in Madras, Oregon) to Erie (ERI).  The pilots who fly the B-17s for the foundation, the ground crew, everyone associated with the organization, is a volunteer.  Pilots Shuttleworth and Hammons fly many of these missions to the likes of Erie, Pittsburgh, Buffalo, Indianapolis, and 40-plus U.S. cities every year.  For the B-17, they number only 12 left flying, out of 12,000 manufactured by Boeing, Douglas and Lockheed.  They flew over 250 mph and up to 35,000 feet for 2000 miles, carrying (13) .50 caliber machine guns and 17,000 pounds of bombs.The government put them up for auction after the war as surplus, and one could be had for $5,000.  Today, they are valued at $2 million.  Two years ago, I flew in a replica of the famed Memphis Belle, the accolade laden gem of books, TV and movie lore.  This time, it was the Madras Maiden, which is 99 percent original.  It helps that it never flew in combat.  I asked both Shuttleworth and Hammons if they felt anything, flying a “17,” you know, the nostalgia of the guys who flew them in the big war.  “Absolutely,” says Hammons, the co-pilot on the Maiden.  “We talk about it every day.  We meet these guys (veterans), they come here in wheelchairs and with walkers.  They want someone to hear their stories that might understand it.  We hear them in the airplane.  I’m honored to be here.  We’re here to celebrate these veterans and honor these people. They gave so much.”However, obstacles remain.  The cost of doing business for a B-17—this one built in 1944, and never being intended for combat, but as a trainer—costs the foundation somewhere in the neighborhood of $1.5-$2.2 million yearly to visit 50 cities, according to Liberty flight director Scott Maher of Tulsa, Oklahoma, where the foundation is based.  This organization takes in roughly $1.4-1.8 million annually from the relatively pricey fares it collects from tourist rides…its only income source.  Brooks Jr. foots the rest.  For Maher… “I live and breathe these airplanes seven days a week. ”   The Liberty Foundation name refers to the Liberty Belle B-17 that crashed in Oswego, IIl. in 2011.  A YouTube video shows the Liberty Bell burning after pilot John Hess landed wheels down in a wet cornfield due to an onboard engine fire three minutes after take-off, with the aircraft actually breaking apart and exploding from leaking fuel.  All seven crew members onboard got out safely…amazingly.  Fire trucks seem to drive by, then return to douse the fire.  At this point, it was a bit too late.  Just more fodder for the FAA and their view of this type of aviation.  So before the FAA grounds these regal and dignified birds, hitch a ride (as pricey as they are), after one soars over your house or your head.Nostalgically, this past summer, on a crispy clear night, I drove past the Allegheny County Airport and swung in—very after-hours—to spy the 1944 bomber situated conspicuously next to the 1933 art deco terminal—with its precise, delineated, geometrically checkered, black and white tile floor.  I waited for Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman to emerge onto the tarmac but they never showed.  Not enough fog and drama, I guess.Lee Kann is a filmmaker, media producer and freelance writer for the New Pittsburgh Courier.  Contact: [email protected]last_img read more

Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin addresses concerns on defense for upcoming game vs. Falcons, Oct. 7 (Courier Video with Brian Cook)

first_imgIn response to another devastating loss for the Pittsburgh Steelers, Sept. 30 against the Baltimore Ravens, head coach Mike Tomlin discusses his strategies for defensive pressure and how the Steelers will attempt to solve their recent shortcomings against the Atlanta Falcons, Oct. 7. The New Pittsburgh Courier’s Brian Cook reports from Heinz Field. [youtube]Web post created by:Gianna Griffin, For New Pittsburgh Courierlast_img

He’s young, he’s Black and he’s the best quarterback in the NFL

first_imgI can’t remember the last time a Black quarterback was tops at his position but welcome to the future. Kansas City Chiefs signal caller Patrick Mahomes II is the real deal and perhaps the best in the league. And he’s only 23. Name it, Mahomes has it from the mobility to the cannon arm to the ability to read and dissect defenses.Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) scrambles away from New England Patriots defensive end Adrian Clayborn (94) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 14, 2018, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)I know it’s cliché to give the title to Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers but I’ll buy a ticket to watch Mahomes. The kid is ahead of his years and past the “prospect” stage; he’s the top flight star at a grown man’s position. Coming out in the 2017 draft, the latest prodigy at signal caller wasn’t hyped up like the Baker Mayfields or Sam Darnolds of this summer’s draft but longtime head coach Andy Reid saw enough in Mahomes coming out of Texas Tech that it was enough to send longtime Chiefs signal caller Alex Smith packing in a trade to Washington.A Sunday night duel with Brady only highlighted how talented Mahomes really is despite a 43-40 defeat. Going into Foxboro in a nationally televised game and dropping 350 passing yards and four touchdowns are numbers Peyton Manning could barely crack during those Brady/Manning battles. I get that critics may not want to say it, but it’s true: Mahomes is the best quarterback in the league. read more

Haley on Giants’ roster and going home to see mom

first_imgEAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Rookie cornerback Grant Haley could not have picked a better time to be elevated from the practice squad to the New York Giants’ roster.The Giants (1-5) are heading to Atlanta to play the Falcons (2-4) on Monday night.It’s home for Haley and he is going to see the women who inspires him — his mother, Dr. Carla Neal-Haley. She is a pediatrician, an internist and a battler.For the past five or six years, Neal-Haley has been fighting a rare liver disease, primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC). It damages the bile ducts and causes the liver to deteriorate over time. There is no cure. She needs a new liver.“We’ve been working on that, finding different donors, having people tested,” Haley said Thursday before going out to practice. “It’s been important to me to reach out and use my social media presence to help in any way possible. She has been my biggest supporter and there for everything I have been through. For me as a son, it’s only right for me to do the same.”Neal-Haley had open heart surgery in January and her condition now makes her eligible to get a new liver.There is a Facebook page aimed at finding a donor (@liverforcarla).Haley said his mother still goes to work every day, although one of her new jobs is finding tickets for Monday night. The family needs about 10 and probably more for friends.If active, the game will be his NFL debut.“With the family there, this is special,” said Haley, who also has a younger brother and sister. “My mom, she is excited. She is looking for tickets. She has been loving and supporting. Now for a moment like this, it’s special for her, everything she is going through. I am in a blessed position and I can’t be more thankful for the opportunity.”Haley, whose father, Leon Jr., is a dean at the University of Florida College of Medicine in Jacksonville, has overcome some adversity to get into this position. He was not drafted and signed with the Giants as a free agent. He had a good training camp and was in the final cuts. The Giants immediately added him to the practice squad, where the minimum salary was $7,600 weekly.He will make more than $28,000 weekly on the 53-man roster.Being on the 10-man practice squad was an adjustment after training camp.“I looked at the situation and you get to go against Odell (Beckham Jr.) and Shep (Sterling Shepard) every day, why not take advantage of that and continue to grow your skillset?” Haley said. “Once I did that, then it started being fun out there and normal. I’m glad I used that as a growing experience to be ready when my number was called.”Haley was at MetLife Stadium for the Giants’ home games and watched the away contests on television. It admittedly was a strange feeling after starting 36 of 49 games at Penn State. All he could do was root for his teammates.He took notes though and worked hard. Now he might get a chance to go against receiver Julio Jones and quarterback Matt Ryan, guys he watched on television when he was home in Atlanta.“Mom will definitely be there,” Haley said.___More AP NFL: and New York Giants cornerback Grant Haley speaks with reporters inside the NFL football team’s locker room, Thursday, Oct. 18, 2018, in East Rutherford, N.J. Haley could not have picked a better time to be elevated from the practice squad to the Giants’ roster. The Giants are heading to Atlanta to play the Falcons on Monday night. It’s home for Haley and he is going to see the women who inspires him, his mother, Dr. Carla Neal-Haley. She is a pediatrician, an internist and a battler. (Tom Canavan/Associated Press)last_img read more

G League to offer $125,000 contracts to elite prospects

first_imgIn this April 6, 2018, file photo, Erie BayHawks’ Josh Magette drives past Raptors 905’s Alfonzo McKinnie in an in NBA G League tournament basketball game, in Erie, Pa. Jack Hanrahan, Erie Times-News via AP MIAMI (AP) — The G League will begin offering “select contracts” worth $125,000 next year to elite prospects who are not yet eligible for the NBA, a move that could slightly lessen the handful of one-and-done players at the college level.There is no determination yet on how players will be identified as potential targets for such a contract. The G League said Thursday that it is establishing a working group to develop that process and other criteria, and that there will be no cap on how many players could be signed to a select deal.“We recognize that talent assessment is inherently subjective,” G League President Malcolm Turner said. “But as the name would suggest, this working group will be charged with identifying the relevant pool of players who may be offered a select contract. It’s not as if any player can unilaterally raise their hand and dictate that they will join the league playing under a select contract.”Players will be eligible to sign the select deal if they turn 18 by Sept. 15 prior to the season that they would spend in the G League. The move follows recommendations released earlier this year by the Commission on College Basketball, a group that was chaired by former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and was tasked with reforming the college game.The commission report said “elite high school players with NBA prospects … should not be ‘forced’ to attend college.”Turner said the move addresses that concern.“We’ve tried to answer the basketball community’s call for an alternative in a timely and thoughtful way,” Turner said.Players who receive the select contracts all will become eligible for the NBA draft the following year. Their rights would not be retained by an NBA club beforehand, no matter which G League affiliate they wind up with.Under current rules, players are not eligible to enter the NBA draft until they are a year removed from high school — though that is expected to change through an amendment to the collective bargaining agreement between the NBA and its players in time for the 2022 draft.The G League has allowed 18-year-old players in the past, but never before under any elite designation.While it is apparent there are still details to be ironed out — such as how these select players will be allocated to G League teams — NCAA President Mark Emmert said he appreciates the G League’s plan.“Obtaining a college education continues to provide unmatched preparation for success in life for the majority of student-athletes and remains an excellent path to professional sports for many,” Emmert said. “However, this change provides another option for those who would prefer not to attend college but want to directly pursue professional basketball.”And this could put the G League and some big-name NCAA programs on a collision course.Players can sign letters of intent to play for a Division I school in the 2019-20 season starting next month, and there’s nothing to suggest that some of the top recruits — whether they’ve signed or not — won’t consider going to the G League for $125,000 instead of college next season. That means the potential is there for some awkward situations if a player signs with a school, and later backs out of that commitment to turn pro.The G League’s working group is expected to be formed and functioning within the next couple of weeks, but it’s unclear when the process of players contacting the league and vice versa will begin. It is expected that there will be an advisory council to tell athletes who contact the G League about their potential eligibility for a select deal, much like how college football players can ask about their potential NFL draft status.“There might be some collision points, but our role and what we intend to do is educate and inform the marketplace,” Turner said. “We’re also not going to be targeting those who have already made their decisions.”Earlier this year, Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James called the NCAA model “corrupt” and said he would suggest to NBA Commissioner Adam Silver a plan to expand the G League and turn it into more of a farm system with an eye on truly preparing young talent for the NBA.“As the NBA, we have to figure out a way that we can shore up our farm league,” James said in February, when he was still with the Cleveland Cavaliers. “And if kids feel like they don’t want to be a part of that NCAA program, then we have something here for them to be able to jump back on and not have to worry about going overseas all the time.”Through the first two nights of this NBA season, 35 rookies — most of them having left college early — made their debuts. Of the 35, only five scored more than 10 points in their first game.___More AP NBA: and read more

AP source: Browns fire Hue Jackson and Todd Haley

first_imgCleveland Browns head coach Hue Jackson, left, talks with line judge Mike Spanier (90) along the sideline as his team plays against the Pittsburgh Steelers Sunday, Oct. 28, 2018, in Pittsburgh. The Steelers won 33-18. (AP Photo/Don Wright)BEREA, Ohio (AP) — Hue Jackson’s failed, flawed tenure with the Cleveland Browns is finally over.The team fired its embattled coach on Monday, ending a run of futility nearly unmatched in NFL history. Jackson, who went 3-36-1 in two-plus seasons, was dismissed on Monday by general manager John Dorsey, a person familiar with the decision told The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the team has not yet announced the expected move.The Browns also dismissed offensive coordinator Todd Haley, the person said. Haley was in his first season on Jackson’s staff after spending the previous six in Pittsburgh.Jackson’s firing came a day after the Browns (2-5-1) lost their 25th straight road game — 20 of them coming with Jackson in charge.The Browns, who have not made the playoffs since 2002, have lost three straight games after a promising start to this season. They tied Pittsburgh in Week 1, but were beaten 33-18 on Sunday by the Steelers.Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin, right, greets Cleveland Browns head coach Hue Jackson after an NFL football game against the Cleveland Browns, Sunday, Oct. 28, 2018, in Pittsburgh. The Steelers won 33-18. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)Jackson is the sixth straight Cleveland coach to be fired following the team’s second game against Pittsburgh. Romeo Crennel, Eric Mangini, Pat Shurmur, Rob Chudzinski and Mike Pettine all met the same demise.It’s not immediately clear who will fill in for Jackson for the rest of this season. The Browns host the Kansas City Chiefs (7-1) on Sunday.Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams and wide receivers coach Al Saunders are interim candidates capable of finishing the season. Williams and Saunders both have previous head coaching experience.Jackson was hired in 2016 by owners Dee and Jimmy Haslam, who stuck by him despite a 1-15 record in his first season and the Browns losing all 16 games last season, joining the 2008 Detroit Lions as only the second team in league history to go 0-16.But beyond the lopsided losses, quarterback changes and bad luck, the Browns have been constantly saddled with drama and dysfunction under Jackson, who came to Cleveland after serving as Cincinnati’s offensive coordinator and went 8-8 as Oakland’s head coach in 2011.Last week, Jackson’s offer to help Haley following a loss in Tampa Bay underscored another power struggle as Jackson fought to stay in control.Following Sunday’s game, Jackson downplayed any dispute with his offensive coordinator.“There’s nothing wrong with my relationship with Haley,” Jackson said. “I never said I wanted to take over play-calling. I said wanted to help, that’s it. But today it’s this big thing because sure, everyone is going to look and say what’s going on. The only thing that is going on is that we need to get better. We need to coach better, we need to play better.”Jackson’s firing comes one day after the Cleveland Cavaliers fired coach Tyronn Lue, who led the team to an NBA title in 2016 but was struggling in his first season without star LeBron James. The Cavs are 0-6.___More AP NFL coverage: and read more

Hamilton relishes F1 challenge from young crop of drivers

first_imgMercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain speaks during a news conference in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2018. 33-year-old Hamilton, who won his fifth title at the Mexican Grand Prix two weeks ago, will compete Sunday in the Brazilian Formula One Grand Prix at Sao Paulo’s Interlagos circuit. (AP Photo/Andre Penner) SAO PAULO (AP) — Five-time Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton has a two-step plan for keeping the new generation of talented drivers behind him next season: match their youthful hunger and outwit them with the experience that comes with age.The 33-year-old Hamilton wrapped up this year’s title at the Mexican Grand Prix two weeks ago and is already looking forward to the renewed challenge he will face in 2019 from a crop of young drivers who will only get better.Hamilton, who became the youngest F1 champion when he won his first title at the age of 23 in 2008, says he sees a bit of himself in 21-year-old Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc and Red Bull’s 22-year-old Pierre Gasly.“These are two young rising stars that are already showing incredible potential,” Hamilton said after he arrived in Sao Paulo for this weekend’s Brazilian Grand Prix.He later added 21-year-old Red Bull driver Max Verstappen to the shortlist as well.“I welcome the competition,” he said. “Naturally I do see a little bit of myself in them. At their age I had the same kind of eye of the tiger. Now it is a little different for me, I am one of the older drivers. But I feel like I still have that hunger they are coming in with.”Hamilton also has the experience of spending a decade at the pinnacle of the sport, and he thinks that could help him stay at the top for a bit longer.“Perhaps there are things that I will be able to bring to the table and that they won’t,” he said.Interlagos will host the penultimate race of the F1 season this weekend. Hamilton called the Brazilian track “one of the trickiest of the season” and “an Achilles heel.”Hamilton won the Brazilian race in 2016 and lifted his first F1 title in Sao Paulo 10 years ago, finishing fourth after a dramatic overtake on the last lap.“The first year here was quite difficult, but it has been improving over time,” he said.While Hamilton has already clinched the individual title, his Mercedes team is still fighting with Ferrari for the constructor’s championship — meaning the Briton will not be able to relax just yet.“We still have two races to go and a championship at stake,” he said.___More AP auto racing: and read more

LeBron gets 44, passes Wilt in LA’s 126-117 win over Blazers

first_imgLos Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James, right, gestures to his teammates while being guarded by Portland Trail Blazers forward Al-Farouq Aminu during the second half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2018, in Los Angeles. The Lakers won 126-117. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill) LOS ANGELES (AP) — A floating jumper, a foul and a free throw in the fourth quarter of a tight game.With a gorgeous three-point play , the King jumped over the Big Dipper.LeBron James’ inimitable presence has already been felt in his first few weeks in Hollywood. His most impressive game yet for the Lakers included a bit of history when he passed Wilt Chamberlain on the NBA’s career scoring list.The superstar with no shortage of historic achievements was more excited about leading his surging new team to yet another win.James had a season-high 44 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists, roaring past Chamberlain for fifth place on the scoring chart and leading the Lakers to a 126-117 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday night.James scored 28 points in the second half and vaulted past Chamberlain’s 31,419 points on that three-point play with 3:55 to go. LeBron finished a memorable night with 31,425 points, and fell just short of his 75th triple-double during his most impressive performance since joining the Lakers.Afterward, James praised Chamberlain as “One of the most dominant forces we ever had in our game, along with Shaq. One of the greatest Lakers to ever play the game. A 100-point scorer. One of the greatest scorer-rebounders to ever play this game.”James already has moved from seventh to fifth on the career scoring list during his first 14 games with Los Angeles, passing Dirk Nowitzki and Chamberlain. Five of the top six scorers in NBA history have suited up for the Lakers — including Chamberlain, whose No. 13 hangs high above the Staples Center court.James hit his first five 3-pointers and finished 13 of 19 from the field, reaching his latest milestone during a dominant performance that had chants of “M-V-P!” raining down from the Staples Center crowd.But the kid from Akron will never let it get to his head.In fact, he will donate his jersey and the game ball to his I Promise School back in Ohio.“Anytime my name is mentioned with some of the greats to play this game, I always think back to my hometown, where I come from, how far I’ve come,” James said.Before the Lakers embark on a three-game trip that includes his return to Cleveland on Nov. 21, James showed his new home fans what they can expect in big moments — as if any basketball fan with a pulse didn’t already know. He scored 16 points in the third quarter and 12 in the fourth, never allowing Portland to make a final run during the Lakers’ fourth consecutive win.“We did a lot of nice things, but we did a lot of sloppy things tonight,” coach Luke Walton said. “A lot of soft defense.”There was bad news on a triumphant night, too: After the game, Walton revealed that Rajon Rondo broke his right hand, apparently while making a steal in the fourth quarter. The veteran point guard will be sidelined for at least a few weeks, and starter Lonzo Ball’s so-far moderate workload is likely to increase.“It’s tough,” James said. “He’s one of our captains, one of our leaders. I know he’ll get right to it with his rehab, but it’s next man up.”Damian Lillard had 31 points, 11 assists and eight rebounds, and CJ McCollum scored 23 in the Trail Blazers’ first road loss to the Lakers since Feb. 22, 2013, ending a nine-game streak at Staples. Portland has lost two straight to the Lakers after winning 16 in a row.“LeBron, it was a dominant performance,” Portland coach Terry Stotts said. ”(Scoring) 44 points on 19 shots, that doesn’t happen too often. When he’s hitting his 3s and putting his head down, he’s tough to stop.”JaVale McGee scored 20 points and Brandon Ingram added 17 in the Lakers’ sixth win in seven games. After a slow start, Los Angeles (8-6) is already finding its groove in its first season with James and his fellow veterans joining a young core. Los Angeles is off to its best start since the 2011-12 season.TIP-INSTrail Blazers: Lillard played without restrictions after missing practice to rest his right knee. … Portland’s four-game winning streak ended, but the Blazers are still on top of the Northwest Division. … Jusuf Nurkic had 21 points and 14 rebounds, and Al-Farouq Aminu scored 18 points.Lakers: The 6-foot-5 Josh Hart blocked a dunk attempt by the 7-foot Nurkic in the first quarter. … Michael Beasley didn’t play, but the veteran was back in uniform after missing several recent games for undisclosed personal reasons. He hasn’t played since Oct. 25.HEAVY HITSThe Blazers delivered two hard fouls against James in the fourth quarter, both requiring him to spend an extra moment recovering. McCollum floored James with a foul that was upgraded to a flagrant foul with 4:38 left, and then Nurkic appeared to use his two fists to make a crybaby gesture when talking to officials about it.“LeBron carried them,” Nurkic said. “When he’s making shots, outside shots, he’s tough to handle.”FAMILIAR FOESThe teams were meeting for the third time in four weeks already this season, a schedule quirk that didn’t particularly please either coach. The Blazers spoiled LeBron’s debut with the Lakers in a 128-119 win at Portland last month, but the Lakers replied by ending their 16-game skid in the rivalry by beating the Blazers 114-110 just 16 days later in the Moda Center. The clubs don’t have their final meeting until the regular-season finale at Staples Center on April 9.UP NEXTTrail Blazers: At Minnesota on Friday night.Lakers: At Orlando on Saturday night.___More AP NBA: and read more

Mickelson wins match against Woods with birdie on 22nd hole

first_imgPhil Mickelson, left, and Tiger Woods talk at the first tee before a golf match at Shadow Creek golf course, Friday, Nov. 23, 2018, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)Phil Mickelson beat Tiger Woods in overtime Friday in their $9 million pay-per-view match in Las Vegas that ended up free for many viewers because of technical problems.Mickelson won on the 22nd hole, making a 4-foot birdie putt on a specially set up 93-yard, par 3. The match at Shadow Creek Golf Club finished under floodlights.Mickelson said to Woods after the match: “Just know I will never let you live that down. It’s not the Masters or the U.S. Open, but it is nice to have a little something on you.”Woods said he enjoyed the match, even if he was on the losing end.“You couldn’t have made this event any better than it was,” he said. “It was back and forth and very competitive on a golf course that was playing on the tricky side.”The match made for some compelling golf at times, if only most people would have been able to see it. Technical difficulties marred the event, which was billed as golf’s first pay-per-view broadcast.Some viewers unable to view it on their televisions after paying $19.95. Turner and Bleacher Report representatives sent out links on social media allowing people to view it for free on their computers and mobile devices.There were over 500 people on hold online waiting for assistance during one point.“We experienced some technical issues on B/R Live that temporarily impacted user access to The Match. We’ve taken a number of steps to resolve the matter, with our main priority being the delivery of content to those that have purchased the PPV event,” Turner spokeswoman Tareia Williams said in an emailed statement.Only 700 invited guests were allowed to watch the event at Shadow Creek. The match was billed as a chance for viewers to watch an untraditional golf broadcast as both golfers and their caddies were mic’d up. It also featured live odds from MGM resorts and a drone was used for live shots.There was some banter between Woods and Mickelson early on but not much as the stakes increased.Mickelson said on the 15th hole to Woods that “I’m trying to be more talkative but I’m not on this back nine.”Woods understood and responded that they were going back to their old mode of “trying to beat each other’s brains in.”The most revealing moment on the front nine happened after Woods missed a 4-foot, short par putt on the second hole to give Mickelson an early advantage.“I was half a second from giving him that putt because he always makes those,” Mickelson said to his brother, Tim, who was his caddie.Mickelson was 1 up through the front nine before Woods seized the lead with birdies on the par-4 11th and 12th holes. Mickelson then squared it with a birdie on the par-3 13th and retook the lead when Woods bogeyed the par-4 15th.Woods tied it with birdie from the fringe of the green on the par-3 17th. Both birdied the par-5 18th and then parred the first playoff hole before it went to the par-3 extra hole — which was pitch shots off the practice putting green — that they kept playing until there was a winner.After he birdied the 17th, Woods said to caddie Joe LaCava “just like old times, buddy.”Mickelson also said it was like old times for him against Woods after that trademark shot.“You’ve been doing that to me for 20 years, I don’t know why I am surprised now,” he said.Mickelson also had the advantage in challenge bets. Woods won the first challenge for $200,000 when Mickelson didn’t birdie the first hole. Mickelson though won the next three, which were closest-to-the-pin challenges on par-3 holes, which totaled $600,000.Both said they couldn’t see challenge bets become a part of regular PGA Tour events.“Maybe at match play you could but that might not be the best thing,” Mickelson said. “I think it added to the competition. It had that flavor of a Tuesday practice round with more at stake.” — (AP)last_img read more