Nuggets On Brink Of NBA Finals With 119-108 Win Over Lakers In Game 3
(LOS ANGELES) LAKERS– While mired in foul trouble, Nikola Jokic was far from his usual dominant form, and Jamal Murray cooled off after a blistering first half. The Denver Nuggets’ early lead vanished completely in the fourth quarter of Game 3, and the Lakers’ home audience erupted.
The Nuggets overcame every setback and took control with the champions’ calm, deliberate elegance.
With one more win, they can compete for their first rings.
Murray scored 37 points, Jokic added 24 points and eight assists, and the Nuggets defeated the Lakers 119-108 on Saturday night to take a 3-0 lead in the Western Conference finals.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored 12 of his 17 points in the second half for the top-seeded Nuggets, who have never been this close to the NBA Finals in their 47-year history. Denver is making its fifth consecutive playoff appearance, and the championship game is now just one win away.
“I learn a lot about this team every time we play,” Caldwell-Pope said. “We have that dog mentality where, whether up or down, we’re going to fight and play our game at a high level.” We will keep doing that for the rest of the games.”
Denver lost a 14-point lead in Game 3 but used a decisive 13-0 run in the fourth quarter to halt the Lakers’ nine-game home winning streak dating back to March 26, including seven straight wins since the regular season concluded.
“This group is capable of doing great things, and they believe,” said Denver coach Michael Malone. “Belief is a very powerful thing.”
In the history of the NBA, no club has returned from a 3-0 series disadvantage. Game 4 is scheduled for Monday night in Los Angeles.
“They’re going to do everything in their power to come back and fight on their home floor,” Murray said. “We know it’s coming, and all we have to do is stay focused and believe we can do it.”
The seventh-seeded Lakers, hadn’t lost three straight games since early February.
The seventh-seeded Lakers, who hadn’t lost three straight games since early February, were led by Anthony Davis, who had 28 points and 18 rebounds. Los Angeles’ protracted, frantic push since the trade deadline has finally peaked against the Nuggets, who have won five straight playoff games.
“They’ve been at the top of the food chain for a reason, and have a plethora of guys that can hurt you, as was on full display tonight,” said Lakers coach Darvin Ham. “However, circumstances are what they are. It will be difficult, but not impossible.”
Los Angeles’ LeBron James finished with 23 points, 12 assists, and seven rebounds, making three 3-pointers after going 0 for 13 in the series. Austin Reaves contributed 23 points and seven rebounds, but Rui Hachimura was the only other Lakers player to reach double figures, with 13 points.
“Our backs have probably been against the wall for the last two months, maybe more, since the trade deadline,” Reaves said. “I’m swinging and throwing punches to get to this opportunity… We can either come out and go home on Monday, or we can fight for another day. And I know what that answer will be given the set of guys we have.”
Jokic’s four-game stretch of triple-doubles ended in a relatively quiet game for the two-time MVP, who picked up his fourth foul in the third quarter. On the other hand, Murray scored 17 points in a thrilling first quarter after a 23-point fourth quarter the night before, and he had 30 points by the halftime of Game 3.
Bruce Brown scored 15 points for the Nuggets and nailed a clutch 3-pointer down the stretch before Jokic iced it with a 3-pointer with 3:17 remaining.
Lakers supporters turned out in numbers for the 17-time champion team’s first conference finals games at home since 2010. Los Angeles attempted frantically to get back into the series, with James playing 43 minutes after spraining his left ankle in Game 2 and already having a sore right foot.
Lakers supporters turned out in numbers for the 17-time champion team’s first conference finals games at home since 2010.
But the Nuggets’ travel to the coast didn’t dampen Murray’s spirits: after torching the Lakers in Game 2, the Canadian guard scored his first five shots in Game 3 and poured in 17 points in the first quarter – despite Jokic going scoreless for the second quarter in a row.
Murray’s fourth 3-pointer of the night made him 11 of 13 from the field for 26 points midway through the second quarter, putting him on pace to score more than half of Denver’s points. Reaves and Davis kept the Lakers in the game, with Reaves scoring 15 points, dishing out three assists, and grabbing three rebounds in the second quarter alone.
Early in the fourth, Hachimura’s 3-pointer gave the Lakers their first lead since the opening minutes, but the Nuggets rallied again, led by Brown’s 3-pointer with 7:02 remaining, after which he teased the Lakers’ bench with Los Angeles’ famous “Freeze” 3-point celebration.
D’Angelo Russell struggled again for the Lakers, scoring three points on one of eight attempts in 20 minutes. Russell was the most important addition to the Lakers’ trade deadline turnaround, but he has only 21 points in this three-game series.
Aaron Gordon scored seven points in 32 minutes for the Nuggets… Michael Porter Jr. finished with 14 points and ten rebounds, including a 3-pointer in the final 90 seconds.
Backup C for the Lakers, Mo Bamba, missed his tenth straight game due to a painful left ankle. The squad is hoping that Bamba can participate at some time during this series. Jack Nicholson, Eddie Murphy, Denzel Washington, Jake Gyllenhaal, Andy Garcia, Dyan Cannon, Ken Jeong, Joel McHale, LA Kings captain Anze Kopitar and defenseman Drew Doughty, and Khalil Mack, Derwin James, and Sebastian Joseph-Day from the Los Angeles Chargers’ defense were among those in attendance.
SOURCE – (AP)
Spencer Carbery Hired As Capitals Coach After 2 Seasons As Maple Leafs Assistant
The Washington Capitals have appointed Spencer Carbery as their next head coach, reuniting the team with a fan favorite who had long been tipped for the position.
On Tuesday, the team revealed that they had re-signed Carbery after he had spent the previous two years as an assistant coach for the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Before then, Carbery’s success with Washington’s top minor league club had made many believe he would succeed Peter Laviolette as head coach of the Capitals. From 2018 to 2020, Carbery coached the Hershey Bears of the American Hockey League for three years before landing his first NHL job on Sheldon Keefe’s staff in Toronto.
General manager Brian MacLellan commented, “Spencer is one of the best young coaches in the game who has had success at every level in which he has coached.” To quote the hiring letter: “We feel his leadership, communication skills, ability to develop players, and familiarity with our organisation will be tremendous assets as he makes this next step in his coaching career.”
The Washington Capitals have appointed Spencer Carbery as their next head coach.
Carbery, now 41 years old, was a homegrown talent for the Capitals who got his start with the team’s ECHL affiliate in South Carolina. He went through many interviews this spring, including one with the San Jose Sharks for their open position from last year.
Before a rival team could pick him up, the Capitals got him back into the role they had envisioned for him. The former captain turned Tampa Bay assistant, Jeff Halpern, Philadelphia associate coach Brad Shaw and others with more experience were all passed over in favor of Carbery.
Carbery thanked the Capitals organization for allowing him to serve as team captain. I’m excited to get to know and develop chemistry with such talented players. To the Toronto Maple Leaf organization, I appreciate all the help you’ve given me over the past two seasons.
Carbery’s job is to get Washington back into the playoffs after an eight-year drought. He inherits a squad led by the aging Alex Ovechkin, who led the playoffs in scoring in 2018 and is now attempting to break Wayne Gretzky’s record for most goals scored by a player in franchise history.
The organization’s purpose, from owner Ted Leonsis to general manager Brian MacLellan, is to remain competitive for as long as Russian superstar Alexander Ovechkin is under contract. Since Ovechkin is under contract for another three years, that is the most likely time frame before the team begins a reconstruction.
SOURCE – (AP)
Heat Still Lead East finals, But Celtics Roaring Back With Eye On History
MIAMI HEAT Possibly, Kevin Garnett is correct. As he exclaimed in jubilation after Boston won the NBA title in 2008, anything is possible.
Including the unthinkable.
The Celtics have earned their way into an exclusive club by being halfway to immortality. Only 14 out of the first 150 teams in NBA history to go behind 3-0 in a best-of-seven series went on to force a decisive Game 6. This percentage is just 9.3 percent. There has never been a series winner among them; by this point, most of them have been booted.
It’s not the Celtics. They are now down 3-2 in the Eastern Conference Finals against the Miami Heat, but they hold the upper hand heading into Saturday night’s Game 6 in Miami.
Jaylen Brown, a forward for the Celtics, says, “When adversity hits, you get to see what a team is made of.” The squad was stunned to find themselves down 3-0. Being down 3-0 seemed like the worst possible situation, yet we didn’t panic or split up. As a group, we kept putting. We doubled down on our defensive strengths and can now win the series.
The Celtics can become the fourth team to return from a 3-0 deficit and force a game seven if they win on Saturday. A victory on Saturday would put Boston in a position to force the series to a decisive Game 7 on Monday at TD Garden, where it would host the series for the first time.
Down 3-2 in the Eastern Conference Finals against the Miami Heat.
After a rough week, Celtics head coach Joe Mazzulla reminded his team that the season is still nine months away. Sometimes you have a lousy week on the job. We didn’t choose the finest moment to have a poor week, but we did, and now we’re all pulling together and doing our hardest to keep it going.
The Denver Nuggets currently need a game. If Boston prevails, the NBA Finals will begin with the Nuggets facing the Celtics in Game 1. For Game 1, if Miami wins the East, the Heat will travel to Denver. The first episode of the titular series will air on June 1st.
Coach Michael Malone of the Nuggets stated as much on Friday, following the team’s first full practice since clinching the Western Conference title with a four-game sweep of the Los Angeles Lakers. But keeping in sync is tough when you’re not actively participating in NBA games.
In Game 4, the Heat led by nine points in the third quarter and looked like they would be able to complete a series sweep. Two and a half minutes later, the Celtics had taken the lead for good. Boston took control of Game 4 with an 18-0 run, ended any remaining uncertainty with a 12-0 run in the second half, and opened Game 5 with a 20-5 run.
All told, in the 27 minutes between the beginning of the Celtics’ third-quarter outburst in Game 4 and the end of their early-game run in Game 5, the Celtics outscored the Heat 84-43.
These past two performances do not represent us. It was just a coincidence, Heat forward Jimmy Butler said. We stopped defending in the middle of the game because we weren’t making the shots we needed to win. However, that can be fixed quickly. It would help if you came out swinging a lot harder. It will be nothing but sunshine and consistency from here on out because we know we will win the next game, as I’ve said before.
At least one’s self-assurance is growing. The rest of it is.
Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra said frankly, “There are no excuses” for the team’s poor performance in Game 5. Even though the locker room is currently as chaotic as a scrum for a dropped ball under the basket, “not at all,” he insisted. With injuries to Tyler Herro and Victor Oladipo at shooting guard, as well as the absence of starting guard Gabe Vincent for Game 5 and the sight of Kyle Lowry playing through some hand ailment, the Heat have been shorthanded in the backcourt throughout the rest of the playoffs.
Game 5 was a disaster for Miami’s starting unit, as they were outscored by their bench players 95-44. Ever since Boston’s comeback-sparking run began in Game 4, the Heat have been outscored 75-33 from 3-point range, have given up 54% field goal and 44% 3-point shooting to the Celtics, and have turned the ball over 26 times to Boston’s 12.
Select a random number from the list. Only the series score of 3-2 is positive for the Heat, as it means that Miami is still one win away from completing their incredible journey as a No. 8 seed that reached the NBA Finals.
Spoelstra acknowledged that this series would be intensely contested. You know the conference finals will be tough because they always are. There is no connection between games. We won Game 3 by a wide margin. It’s really beside the point. It’s all about working together to plan and execute a spectacular performance. On Saturday, we’ll play at a much higher level. That’s all we can do is concentrate on at the moment.
SOURCE – (AP)
NFL Expects Fewer Kickoff Returns With New Fair Catch Rule Inside 25
EAGAN, Minnesota – With a focus on player safety, the NFL has driven the kickoff return even further into obscurity.
The existence of the kickoff itself is still being investigated.
The league’s owners voted Tuesday to test an upgraded touchback rule for one year, giving the receiving team the ball at its own 25 with a fair catch of a kickoff anyplace behind that yard line.
“There’ll be a lot more work to be done about how we can continue to evolve going forward,” Commissioner Roger Goodell said. “Can we keep this play exciting but, more importantly, safe?” There will be a great deal of work to be done.”
The plan was approved despite strong opposition from coaches and players across the league, who said the alteration would result in uglier plays with squib and corner kicks, making fair receptions hard.
“I’ve been doing this a long time.” “I’ve seen these types of health and safety discussions,” Atlanta Falcons CEO Rich McKay, head of the competition committee, said. “We tend to get ourselves to the right place, but it’s never that comfortable.”
According to the NFL’s statistical projections, the return rate for kickoffs in 2023 will drop from 38% to 31% under the new rule, and the rate of concussions on the sport’s most dangerous play will be cut by 15%. Concussions on kickoffs occur more than twice as frequently as on plays from scrimmage, and the percentage has increased dramatically in the last two years, according to McKay.
With a focus on player safety, the NFL has driven the kickoff return even further into obscurity.
One possible explanation for the recent rise in head injuries? Kickers’ improved ability to tactically hang the ball longer and higher in front of the goal line gives coverage more time to make a tackle and keeps the opponent’s drive starting deeper than the 25 for an end-zone touchback.
“We understand that there will be injuries in professional football and football at all levels.” “We’re just trying to mitigate those risks,” said Tennessee coach Mike Vrabel, a member of the competition committee that recommended the regulation be approved.
The NFL duplicated a regulation that had just been implemented in college football.
“Not to say there won’t be some unintended consequences, but sitting still and doing nothing was unacceptable,” said Jeff Miller, executive vice president of communications, public affairs, and policy for the NFL. “There may be more to come because both kickoff and punt continue to have higher injury rates than run or pass plays — and sometimes by a significant margin.” We need to keep an eye on those plays.”
McKay admitted there is no certainty that the kickoff will always be a game feature. The NFL will continue investigating alternatives, like those utilized in spring leagues. The XFL has only 5 yards between the kicking and returning teams, with movement prohibited until the returner has fielded the ball.
“You don’t want this play to be taken out of the game because special teams has been a really good part of our game and a really good part of the careers of a lot of players and coaches,” McKay said. “It’s popular. We just need to figure out how to make the plays safer.”
With a focus on player safety, the NFL has driven the kickoff return even further into obscurity.
In 2016, the league relocated touchbacks from the 20-yard line to the 25-yard line. Only 53 kickoff returns have resulted in touchdowns in the last 12 seasons since kickoff tees were moved up to the 35-yard line from the 30. Before the modification, there were 20 kickoff return touchdowns in 2010.
“I’m sure it’s like a good NFL rule.” “They always have their reasons for putting stuff in,” said Green Bay’s Keisean Nixon, who recorded one of the four kickoff return touchdowns in the 2022 season. “I ain’t never fair caught anything, so I don’t know.”
Coach Matt Eberflus of Chicago projected a tactical change towards squib, drop, and drive kicks.
“I suspect you’ll see more returns rather than less,” Eberflus said. “That’s just what I’m thinking right now,” she says, “but we’ll see what happens.”
GROWTH ON A GLOBAL SCALE
Goodell showed openness to teams spending more time overseas, with the Jacksonville Jaguars scheduled to play consecutive games in London this year.
“We’ll see how it affects the Jaguars,” Goodell stated. “Can we try three at some point?” Possibly.”
The NFL has expanded its global marketing program to include two additional clubs and four other nations, bringing the totals to 21 and 14, respectively. The New Orleans Saints were awarded the rights to France. Ireland and Northern Ireland were acquired by the Pittsburgh Steelers, who also acquired Mexico last year. Ireland also joined the Jaguars. The Atlanta Falcons are the fifth team to sign Germany. Austria and Switzerland were granted rights to the Kansas City Chiefs, New England Patriots, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The program was created to assist individual teams in developing their brands outside their home markets through commercial activities and fan engagement comparable to what they do at home. The league grants rights for at least five years.
SOURCE – (AP)
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