Maurice Harkless returns from knee surgery for Blazers

Forward Maurice Harkless returned to action for Portland in Game 2 of the playoff series against the New Orleans Pelicans on Tuesday night.

Harkless, who checked in with 4:53 to go in the first quarter, had a minor procedure on his left knee in late March and had missed 11 games.

“When you get married,” Snyder says, “you’ll realize that’s how it works.”

The last clip of the session features an awkward pick-and-roll dance with Gobert. With the shot clock down to eight seconds, Mitchell rushes and jacks a contested pull-up 3 that misses short after Gobert doesn’t get much of a screen on Larkin.

Bryant, who had mentioned moments earlier that eight seconds is an eternity in a half-court possession, blames Mitchell for not giving Gobert a chance to set a good enough screen.

“Let him get in the channel, retreat dribble, keep [the defender] on your hip, let Rudy flip it,” Bryant says. “Now you can attack there.”

Adds Snyder: “It’s the patience.”

FAST-FORWARD TO the following week, when Mitchell coverts a dazzling drive and and-1 layup over LA Clippers center DeAndre Jordan that was featured on all the highlight shows. It’s a high pick-and-roll with Gobert, and after the initial pick isn’t much of a hit, Mitchell spins and takes a dribble with his left and crosses back over.

The move brings Clippers forward C.J. Williams right into Gobert and gives Mitchell a clear runway. He changes speeds and directions as he goes to the basket, getting Jordan on his heels before accelerating toward him.

Mitchell draws contact while executing a “goofy-foot finish” — a technique Bryant taught him, catching shot-blockers off-guard with a quick, right-handed scoop while leaping off the right foot.

Mitchell listened, learned and executed.

In his sixth NBA season, Harkless played in 59 games for the Blazers in the regular season, starting 37, and averaged 6.5 points and 2.7 rebounds.

“But I’m telling you: Rudy makes this play.”

Le’Veon Bell: It’s hard to be a hero in a city that paints you as a villain

The Steelers say Le’Veon Bell will play in Pittsburgh in 2018, but he sounds like he doesn’t think he’s getting a fair shake there.

Bell tweeted on Thursday afternoon that he thinks he’s been villainized in Pittsburgh.

“It’s so hard to be a hero in a city that paints you out to be the villain,” Bell wrote.

And you lose an hour. People forget that. Denver, you lose an hour, so you’re getting in four in the morning, you’re exhausted, the air is thin, the airport takes forever and if they play well, they’re going to win.”

Rivers added, “I always have a trigger on Denver games. At some point [during the games, I’m thinking], ‘F— it — pull them.’ Whenever you go there, you start the game out and by the third quarter, you make a determination — ‘You know what? Pull them, if you’re not winning.’ And you would never do that in any other game.'”

Bellamy bounced around the league a bit before landing with the Bears in 2014. He’s played in 47 games over the last three seasons and has 62 catches for 882 yards and four touchdowns.

Meredith has visited the Ravens, Colts and Saints, but has not signed an offer sheet with anyone. The Bears have added wide receivers Allen Robinson and Taylor Gabriel in free agency.

“You guys are supposed to be tired,” Korver again tells Malone.

Malone laughs. He is very tired, having not settled into bed until about 3:30 a.m. earlier that morning. But it’s no secret that during the helter-skelter NBA calendar, every team knows exactly when it’s battling far more than its opponent, just as every opponent knows exactly when it has a significant edge, as the Cavaliers believed they had entering this March 3 evening. That’s also why this particular game qualified as one of our 54 schedule alert games for 2017-18 — games in which, according to our formula, one team faces a steep competitive disadvantage due to the schedule.

Hue Jackson: Browns very close to deciding which QB to draft

The Cleveland Browns are very close to determining which quarterback is their favorite entering the 2018 NFL Draft. Browns head coach Hue Jackson made that pronouncement Tuesday at the coaches’ breakfast during league meetings in Orlando.

Astros: Hinch said he planned to give Correa Wednesday off so he could have two days to rest his injured toe with Houston’s scheduled day off on Thursday.

Arizona won its eighth straight regular-season game over the Dodgers, but Los Angeles swept the Diamondbacks in last year’s National League Division Series.

Godley allowed one run and four hits in his season debut.

You know, Kershaw is one of the best to ever do it, Godley said, and to be able to go out there and go inning-for-inning with him is awesome.

Kershaw went six innings and was charged with two runs and four hits. The left-hander has allowed three runs in two starts, all on solo homers. He lost 1-0 on opening day to San Francisco on Joe Panik’s home run — another shot by a lefty.

It’s almost like science fiction. The tight end White tosses into the quarterback is probably in the 250-pound range. White throws him the way we throw a cake into the oven.

White, Lawrence Taylor and Deion Sanders are the three most dominant defensive players I have ever covered. No defensive lineman today—and perhaps ever—obliterated offensive linemen the way White did.

It’s good to occasionally look at these great players and remember, well, their greatness.

The third concern is the least meaningful of the bunch to me, but also the most difficult to forecast. The Rams are taking risks this offseason in adding clearly talented players who other teams were willing to cast off at distressed prices, including Suh, Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters. The argument, naturally, is that the Rams have a far more settled locker room and coaching situation with Sean McVay and Wade Phillips in charge.

The 6-foot-7 Fells, a converted basketball player, did little to translate that athleticism into production in Arizona.

He caught on with the Lions for $1 million last year and briefly pushed Eric Ebron out of the lineup, making him one of the more popular Lions to the Detroit fanbase.

He caught 17 passes for 177 yards and three scores before Ebron took back his job as the primary pass-catching tight end.

As a player who turns 32 in April, Fells probably isn’t going to turn into a useful tight end anytime soon, but the Browns gave him a three-year, $12 million deal to presumably serve as a blocking tight end next to David Njoku.

You and I are not the same if you can watch Vea almost single-handedly destroy a play by jacking up the left tackle and pushing him back into path of the pulling right guard and right tackle on a counter, forcing the running back to cut back right into his waiting arms without at least whispering “Hot damn!”

And these kind of plays happened in all four games I watched.

The only other guy I can recall tossing offensive lineman around the way Vea did in college in the last decade was Ndamukong Suh. As a matter of fact, Suh is exactly who Vea reminds me of on the field at times.

The Raiders repeatedly turned to Carrie after David Amerson and Sean Smith struggled, and while their pass defense was still a brutal 30th in DVOA, Carrie arguably kept it from being worse.

Bears general manager Ryan Pace made a pair of investments at tight end last year in signing blocking tight end Dion Sims and drafting freak athlete Adam Shaheen in the second round, so it’s a bit of a surprise that he’s making a third foray into the market, but Burton is a more complete player than either of those two.

This is likely more of a referendum on Shaheen, given that Burton will probably occupy two-tight-end sets alongside Sims to start the season.

The four-year, $32 million deal Burton signed is hardly insignificant; he now holds the third-largest average annual salary for a tight end in the league behind Jordan Reed and Travis Kelce, each of whom had much more impressive campaigns before signing their deals.

(With four years and $31.25 million left on his deal, it’s perhaps notable that Ertz is in line to make less money than his former backup.) If Burton hits that upside, he’ll be worth the money he’s getting as part of this contract, but a lot of teams pay for the best-case scenario in free agency and end up getting something significantly less.

In defense of Kevin Love, the Cavs’ most popular scapegoat

News broke late Monday night that the Cavs had held a team meeting before practice. The most noteworthy development? Cavs players questioning the legitimacy of Kevin Love’s illness, which kept him out of Saturday’s debacle against the Thunder.

Upon hearing Love had become the scapegoat for the Cavs’ struggles, the first thing that came to mind was Garry Gergich, the awkward yet lovable character from NBC’s “Parks and Recreation.” Garry — or Jerry or Larry or Terry because no one ever cares quite enough to get his name right — is often the target of the members of the Pawnee Parks and Recreation department because of his general clumsiness and tendency to put himself in ridiculous situations. He becomes the butt of many jokes, even in cases where he really hasn’t done anything wrong.

“Most nights it’s not going to be 6-5,” Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said. “But when it is, the guys have got to know they’ve got a chance to get it done. That is a good quality to have in your group. You don’t want to use it every night.”

The NBA announced the reserves for this year’s All-Star Game on Tuesday night. Not every deserving player made the list, of course. As SN’s Sean Deveney wrote this week in his prediction piece, “There are always snubs.”

It’s a tough deal for George, who was hoping to play in his hometown (and in, maybe, his future home arena). He lost out to LaMarcus Aldridge, Draymond Green and Karl-Anthony Towns in the coaches’ voting for frontcourt players.

Colorado’s Nathan MacKinnon extended his points streak to six games with his team-leading 32nd goal in the second period. MacKinnon has seven goals and six assists during the run and eight goals and nine assists in his last eight games.

“We’re on the outside looking in. Hopefully we’ll get closer going into the All-Star break,’’ Hardaway said. “I feel like with our group, we have that fire and that desire and in our heart is to make the playoffs one hundred percent. If we don’t make the playoffs we’re going to home in April upset. At the same time we know that we gave our all. But we’re trying to make the playoffs, point blank.”

Perron was credited with an empty net goal when the Canucks inadvertently sent the puck the length of the ice for the final margin.

“If you’re a second too late, they’re gonna pass right by you and come the other way,” said Sedin, who has seven points in his last seven games. “These guys can score, they got offensive skill up front and we knew it was going to be a back and forth game. We played good in the first and good in the third, but in the second it got away from of us.”

Along with his assist on Nosek’s goal, Perron tied his career-high of 57 points.

After that it will be back to the football grind for the fifth-year pro, who will take plenty of training and medicinal methods with him but also be able to add another skill and a once-in-a-lifetime experience to his already impressive resume.

“I love the experience and I think it’s going to serve me well in the future,” he said. “It was on my bucket list. Back home the Olympics is like a religion, growing up we were just watching it all day through the winter. Discovering new sports, no matter if you’re looking at skeleton or bobsledding or curling or whatever it is, everything is impressive when it’s the Olympics.

Curry exploded for 44 points on 14-of-19 from the field, including 8-of-11 from beyond the arc, to go with 6 rebounds and 10 assists in 37 minutes. It was his third 40-point game of the season.

Kevin Durant chipped in 24 points and eight boards, and Klay Thompson had 19 points. Thompson reached 10,000 career points, becoming the 10th player in franchise history to accomplish the feat.

First-quarter play has been an issue for the Warriors, but their production in the first is what got them over Thursday night.

Jackson carried the offensive load along with T.J. Warren when the Suns were shorthanded at point guard and without Devin Booker, but now that Booker is back and Elfrid Payton is running the point things have changed. Jackson managed 22 points in Booker’s first game back from injury, but it’s unlikely he repeats the 10-15 shooting he had in that contest. With fewer shots to go around now that the Suns are at full strength, it’s going to take that type of efficiency against the Clippers for him to be a value. Don’t bank on it.49ers_006

The Rams spread the ball around quite a bit in their victory over the Cowboys a week ago.

Trump is not letting the issue go. He wrote Saturday on Twitter: “Very important that NFL players STAND tomorrow, and always, for the playing of our National Anthem. Respect our Flag and our Country!”

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell sent a memo to league staff members in New York, New Jersey, Los Angeles and overseas at Sunday’s Dolphins-Saints game in London.

“This past week was a challenging week for all of us, but I am proud of the way our clubs and players have come together and entered into [dialogue] like never before,” Goodell wrote. “On Friday, the Broncos released a statement directly from their players. I wanted to share it with you as it provides a narrative of this past week and their hopes for today.”

The statement by Broncos players forwarded by Goodell to the NFL staffers read in part: “Make no mistake — our actions were in no way a protest of the military, the flag or those who keep us safe. We have nothing but the deepest love and respect for those who protect our way of life and the freedoms we enjoy as Americans.

Aaron Rodgers is capable of doing the same thing, and with more than a week of preparation, Cobb’s upside in a pass-heavy offense is tough to ignore during a time when some wideouts are underachieving, injured or on their bye week. The four targets in Week 4 are a bit of a concern, but you could certainly do worse if you’re in need of a WR2 or a flex play.

Did you expect any other team? The Patriots of ’07 featured one of the most prolific offenses in NFL history, led by future Hall of Famers Tom Brady and Randy Moss. It set records in points scored and still owns the record for largest win differential in a season. The defense wasn’t half-bad, either. But the dream of a perfect season was dashed in the Super Bowl by the wild-card Giants, who won 17-14 thanks to one of the craziest plays in Super Bowl history.chargers_012

DeRozan has 25 and Toronto downs Portland 99-85

DeMar DeRozan credited Toronto’s second unit for Portland’s ugly second quarter.
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The Trail Blazers were held to just six total points — Evan Turner’s layup and four free throws — in the period and Toronto went on to win 99-85 on Monday night.
Toronto’s focused on defense throughout, coach Dwane Casey said.

“I mean, you’re not going to stop a Kiko Alonso Youth jersey great player like Lillard or McCollum,” Casey said. “But our whole emphasis was to make them work for every inch of the court.”

DeRozan had 15 points in the first quarter and the teams were knotted at 29 going into the second. DeRozan led the Raptors with 24 points in the 101-92 victory over the Lakers.

Dallas turned those mistakes into six points, though it should have been more if an Ezekiel Elliott touchdown wasn’t called back on a bogus holding call on Tyron Smith, who had his hands inside the frame of his opponent and drove him into the ground, but was flagged for it. Dale Weise Womens Jersey

Bell puts one back ferociouslyNick Young pulls up from 3-point land and misses, but Jordan Bell flies to the rim for a monster, one-handed putback dunk.
Prior to the game, Warriors coach Steve Kerr was both salty and contemplative over the Warriors’ slow start to the season. He groused that he would be very pleased if the Dubs could improve upon 26 turnovers. (The Warriors entered play on Monday as the league’s second-most careless team with the ball.) The Warriors obliged, coughing up the ball only 12 times.

That’s when Smith went to work to lead the game-winning drive, sparked by his scrambling toss to Wilson.

Kansas City took advantage of the injuries to the Washington defense, grabbing a 14-10 lead on the opening series of the second half.

Washington answered with a quick three-play, 75-yard touchdown drive of its own and the Chiefs added a field goal to tie it at 17-17 entering the fourth quarter.

The Chiefs then ate up the clock with a 14-play, 66-yard drive that ended with Butker’s go-ahead 32-yard field goal with 4:51 remaining. Cousins led the Redskins back downfield, mostly with his legs, to get a game-tying field goal with 47 seconds remaining. Cousins finished with 227 passing yards, going 13 of 23 through the air with two touchdowns and another 38 yards on the ground.

It’s practically impossible to be as good as he was against the Patriots that night, but this was the closest he has come. He has continued to throw deep, in defiance of everything he’d shown throughout his career. He has run an offense that has been more creative and versatile than any other Andy Reid has given him in his five years there.

His chemistry with all his weapons has been complete a different player every week, while each can make a big play at any time. On this night, it was a lot of Travis Kelce, just enough of Wilson at the right time, Tyreek Hill as a decoy more often than not, and still enough of Kareem Hunt for him to wear down the defense.

Smith has done that while still being the safe, turnover-proof “manager” he hates being called. He has not thrown an interception yet. He used his feet again to escape trouble, no easy task with the pressure Washington put on him most of the night (he still got sacked four times).avalanche_278

Greg Olsen on IR, expected to miss about 6 games due to broken right foot

Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen broke his right foot in a Week 2 matchup against the Buffalo Bills. Olsen was placed on injured reserve on Tuesday, but he could return.

Olsen broke his right foot in the first half against the Bills. When the Panthers came out of the tunnel to start the second half, Olsen was walking with crutches and sporting a walking boot. Carolina shortly announced that its star tight end would not return to the game, which the Panthers Brandon Carr Youth Jersey won 9-3. Olsen finished the game with one catch for 10 yards.

“First of all, the number of plays that these guys play, then Tobias Enstrom Womens Jersey take that to the next week, is really a competitive disadvantage,” said Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh. “Guys get worn out. It’s hard to recover from one week to the next.”

Of course, there’s concern that we might see even more ties, with the shorter period leading to fewer scoring opportunities. There’s also a chance, however slight, that the team that wins the coin toss simply squats on the ball for almost the entire 10 minutes before kicking a field goal. But that’s only an extreme theoretical, and we’ll have to wait and see how teams adjust their strategies when a game goes into overtime this season.

Last season, the Arizona Cardinals and Seattle Seahawks tied 6-6, and a London game between the Cincinnati Bengals and Washington ended in a 27-27 score.

The rules are about the same in the playoffs, except we go into a second period and beyond until there is a winner. Just like in the regular season, playoff overtime periods will be 10 minutes long. Of course, the New England Patriots didn’t need 10 minutes to finish their miracle comeback against the Atlanta Falcons — James White scored the game-winning touchdown on the opening possession to cap off the first overtime period in Super Bowl history.