OKC Blows Out Knicks as Melo Score 22 In His Return To the Garden

Written by Tyler Conway at Bleacher Report.com

Hoodies up, Knicks down.

Carmelo Anthony scored 22 points in his first game against his former team and Russell Westbrook added a triple-double as the Oklahoma City Thunder breezed their way to a 105-84 win over the New York Knicks on Thursday.

Anthony, who went full Hoodie Melo in pregame warmups and at times on the bench, knocked down the Thunder’s first shot of the game and played with a fervor on both ends of the floor. While he went on a bit of a shooting slump early in the game, he remained an active defender at the 4 spot and eventually got things going on the offensive end.

Melo was making his Thunder debut against his old team after a fraught summer exit from New York. Disillusioned by his treatment by former Knicks president Phil Jackson, Anthony sought a trade, first to the Houston Rockets and then a short list of suitors that eventually led him to OKC.

“I was always, ‘I’m going to put my trust in Phil, I’m going to put my trust in Phil,’” Anthony told reporters Wednesday. “That diminished after a while. I’m out here doing everything I can and I’m still getting stabbed in the back. I’m not trusting in that anymore.”

Anthony said he looked forward to playing his old team because it fully closed the chapter on his time with the Knicks. He played nearly six-and-a-half seasons with the Knicks, making seven All-Star appearances.

“My first couple of years was exciting, was fun. We set out to do some great things. Unfortunately, it didn’t happen,” Anthony said Wednesday. “But I won’t let the last two or three years overshadow the amount of fun I had in New York and being in New York.”

Thursday also marked the Thunder debut of Paul George, who came over in an offseason trade with the Indiana Pacers. George finished with a team-high 28 points on 9-of-23 shooting and added six rebounds.

The debut of his new co-stars somewhat overshadowed an expectedly brilliant performance from the reigning MVP. Westbrook finished with 21 points, 10 rebounds and 16 assists for his first triple-double of the 2017-18 season. He finished with a single-season record of 42 triple-doubles last season, a number many expected to diminish with George and Anthony in the fold.

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Lonzo Ball Had A Rough Debut

Written by Colin Ward-Henniger at CBS Sports.com

The highly anticipated NBA debut of Lonzo Ball is in the books, and it was … well … at least it’s over. The Lakers were blown out by the Clippers, 108-92, in the season-opener for both teams Thursday night.

Ball had a rough start to his NBA career, finishing with three points, nine rebounds four assists, a steal and a block in his first game. Here are some takeaways from his performance.

It can only go up from here

Lonzo probably came into this game with the most unrealistic expectations of any rookie in NBA history. This isn’t LeBron James, a 6-foot-8 powerhouse who looked like he was 30 when he was 18. Ball isn’t the type of player who can go out and physically dominate a game with his athleticism, so it’s going to take a while for him to find his place in the league.

That being said, the debut was rough. Three points on 1-of-6 shooting just isn’t going to cut it if this team is going to be successful — he needs to be at least somewhat of a scoring threat. The low assist number was as much a product of his teammates not making shots as his lack of vision. He also didn’t really get a chance to showcase his talent in transition, where he tends to thrive.

Lonzo’s first points

Considering how poorly he shot from deep in the summer league and in preseason, it was a bit surprising to see Lonzo connect from 3-point range for his first (and only) NBA points with just under five minutes left in the second quarter.

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Five Star Recruit De-Commits From Arizona Amid FBI Probe

Written by Thomas Lott at Sportsnews.com

Five-star recruit Jahvon Quinerly, the No. 23 player in the class of 2018, has decommitted from Arizona.

Quinerly announced his decision via Twitter Thursday night.

“After careful consideration, my family and I have determined it is in my best interest to retract my verbal commitment to the University of Arizona,” he wrote. “I’d like to thank my extended family and fans for your continued love and support. Your positivity and kindness never goes unnoticed.”

Quinerly was recruited by Arizona assistant coach Emmanuel “Book” Richardson, who was suspended by the university amid an FBI probe into college basketball that revealed a pay-for-play scheme.

According to ESPN , Richardson is in the process of being fired by the school after he was mentioned in FBI documents and accused of giving a $15,000 bribe to “Player-5,” who “verbally committed to attending” Arizona “on or about August 9, 2017.” Quinerly committed to Arizona Aug. 8.

Quinerly and his family hired an attorney after the FBI report came out. For now, he has reopened his recruitment. Schools that were on his list before he committed to Arizona included UCLA, Villanova, Kansas and Virginia.

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Marshawn Lynch Ejected From Raiders-Chiefs Game

Written by Paul Gutierrez at ESPN.com

Marshawn Lynch was ejected from the Oakland Raiders’ 31-30 win against the Kansas City Chiefs midway through the second quarter Thursday night for making contact with an official.

Lynch ran off the sideline and into a scrum after Chiefs cornerback Marcus Peters hit Raiders quarterback Derek Carr late, drawing a flag for a personal foul. Several Raiders offensive linemen went after Peters, an Oakland native and close friend of Lynch.

Peters showed up for the game wearing a Beast Mode sweatshirt, which is Lynch’s apparel line.

Lynch, who had two carries for 9 yards before the ejection, bumped line judge Julian Mapp in the chest and then grabbed the official by the jersey before letting go and tending to Peters.

“I was disappointed he ran out because I knew we had a 15-yard penalty and we’d be in good shape,” Raiders coach Jack Del Rio said. “I told him you can’t leave the bench like that. That was about it. Next thing I knew, he was being tossed. The referee told me he had actually put his hands on him.”

Physical contact with an official carries a fine of $30,387. If the NFL suspends Lynch for coming off the bench to join the altercation, it would cost him a game check of $79,411.

Lynch was in the locker room to congratulate his teammates after the win but didn’t speak to reporters. He and Peters were spotted together on the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) after the game.

“I don’t have any problem with Marcus coming in and hitting me. He knows that. I told him, ‘I got no issue. Just play ball,’ ” Carr said. “Obviously, Marshawn came out and did his thing. You never want a guy to get kicked out. That stinks. But just from knowing him, I know that he was out there just taking care of us.”

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Kiké Hernandez Hits Three HR To Lift The Dodgers Over Cubs. Make World Series

Written by Bradford Doolittle at ESPN.com

In the end, it was most fitting. The Los Angeles Dodgers’ quest for a pennant ended on the field where it began nearly a year ago, on the ancient grounds of Wrigley Field.

It was most fitting that the winning pitcher was the Dodgers’ longtime ace, Clayton Kershaw, who flashed his best stuff in two months and dazzled the Chicago Cubs for six innings. In years past, the Dodgers might have asked Kershaw to do more. This season, they didn’t need it.

It was most fitting that Kershaw didn’t have to carry the load himself. Not in the least. In a season when the Dodgers seemed to produce a fresh hero every night, it was lightly regarded utility player Enrique Hernandez who produced an epic clinching performance.

But someone else might have stepped up just as easily.

It was most fitting that a Dodgers team that led the major leagues in wins during the season stomped the now-former champion Chicago Cubs 11-1 on a chilly Thursday evening in Wrigleyville, obliterating any hopes for a miracle Chicago comeback and a championship repeat by taking the National League Championship Series in five games.

Finally, it was most fitting that the best Dodgers team in decades — a 104-win juggernaut — took their first National League pennant since 1988. After 29 seasons, the Los Angeles Dodgers are going back to the World Series.

The Dodgers jumped on Cubs starter Jose Quintana from the beginning, getting an RBI double from super rookie Cody Bellinger in the first and a solo homer from Hernandez in the second.

The latter was not a surprise. Hernandez is a righty-hitting specialist with the defensive versatility to plug spots all over the field. He hit .270 with 10 homers off lefties during the regular season.

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Raiders Come Back In Craziest Thursday Night Football Game In A Long Time

Written by Michael Silver at NFL.com

 When it was all over, after the hometown hero’s ejection and the sideline spat and the four false endings and the fantastic finish, Derek Carr didn’t even want to go there.

The fourth-year quarterback had just led the Oakland Raiders to a dramatic, 31-30 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs, thrilling 55,090 fans at the Oakland Coliseum and a Thursday Night Football audience by completing a 10-point fourth-quarter comeback on a two-yard touchdown pass to Michael Crabtree with no time remaining. Yet what if the Raiders (3-4), a trendy preseason Super Bowl pick, had fallen to the AFC West-leading Chiefs (5-2) and suffered their fifth consecutive defeat in the process, with all sorts of accompanying messiness?

“I don’t even want to think about that — golly,” Carr answered as he removed his jersey at his locker, accentuating the last syllable for emphasis like Gomer Pyle back in the day. “You’re gonna make me cry.”

Instead of that hypothetical hellfire, Carr preferred to focus on the reality of a magical evening on which his heroics made the Raiders’ coaches, players and extremely tense fans smile like adolescents on the last day of school. And with good reason: Suddenly, all of Oakland’s recent turmoil, some of it tracing back to the first half of Thursday’s game, faded into the background, as the Raiders savored a victory they believe could signify the first of the rest of their 2017 season.

Or, as Marshawn Lynch told me as he sliced through the Oakland locker room with half of his face covered by a scarf: “S— … we needed that one.”

Ya think?

Lynch, the former Seattle Seahawks star who ended his year-long retirement to play for his hometown team — largely in response to the NFL’s approval of the franchise’s move to Las Vegas for the 2020 season — certainly appreciated the outcome. Having struggled since a strong performance in the Raiders’ season-opening victory over the Tennessee Titans, the powerful running back was used sparingly in the first 21 minutes of Thursday’s game, carrying just twice for nine yards.

Then, following a play for which he wasn’t even on the field, Lynch finally made an impact. After Carr was stopped nine yards short on a third-down quarterback draw, Chiefs cornerback Marcus Peters, an Oakland native with whom Lynch has been extremely close since childhood (and to whom he refers as his cousin), came in late and lit up the passer with the $125 million contract who was recently sidelined by a transverse process fracture in his back. That set off a scrum between numerous players on both teams, including Peters.

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Wizards Win Opener Against 76ers

Written by Candace Buckner at Washington Post.com

Following the Washington Wizards‘ season-opening 120-115 win over the Philadelphia 76ers, Bradley Beal served as his harshest critic. … Marcin Gortat honored a late friend. … And Kelly Oubre Jr. turned the 76ers’ catchphrase into a Sunday school lesson.

The top takeaways from the night:

* Washington did not attempt as many three-pointers as it would have liked, taking just 22 compared to 35 from Philadelphia’s freewheeling shooters. The low number reflects on Beal. Though he played a well-rounded game in grabbing six rebounds and sending “the best lob that I’ve ever thrown in my life” to John Wall for one of his four assists, Beal shied away from the arc and attempted just four threes, making his only one in the first quarter.

However, the limited perimeter shooting didn’t bother him as much as missed free throws. Beal spent the final quarter shaky at the foul line. With the Wizards leading, 115-113, with 20 seconds remaining, Beal had a chance to ice the game but clanked his first free throw attempt. During the final quarter, he missed four of six.

“I think I played bad. I really do, I swear I did tonight,” Beal said. “I missed way too many free throws [and] missed way too many shots. There were times where my defensive principles weren’t great. In terms of rebounding I think I did solid. Getting open shots I thought I did an okay job. I’ll tell you that I’m my biggest critic so I always feel like I have to do better and become a perfectionist. I still have a lot of work to do, but I’ll take a win. A win is more important than anything. I definitely have to be better next game.”

* Other than Beal’s fourth-quarter misses, the Wizards capitalized on their trips to the free throw line. Washington hit 30 of 38 overall;  last season, the team made 30 or more free throws twice.

* When the Wizards turn to a five-man bench, Jodie Meeks appears to be the scorer of the bunch. In his Wizards’ debut, Meeks scored 14 points (3 of 8 from the field and 7 for 7 from the foul line) but he stood out from the unit that could not hold a nine-point lead in the second quarter, then an eight-point cushion to start the fourth.

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Cubs Take Game 4 From Dodgers, Down 3-1

Written by Ted Berg at USA Today.com

Five takeaways from the Cubs’ 3-2 win over the Dodgers in Game 4 of the NLCS at Wrigley Field on Wednesday:

1. Wade down

With a bullpen that owned a 6.35 ERA in the postseason entering play Wednesday, Joe Maddon leaned on closer Wade Davis for a two-inning save. Davis got the job done, but a shaky outing meant he required 48 pitches to get the six outs. That’s more than he threw in the outing against Washington in Game 5 that kept Davis out of the early part of the NLCS. Maddon said after the game that Davis would not be available Thursday. Given the length of his recovery after the last long outing, he could still be limited for a Game 6 in Los Angeles on Saturday if the series gets that far.

2. The Cubs still aren’t hitting 

Javier Baez ended his postseason 0-fer with a two-homer night, but the Cubs managed only five total hits with no walks and 11 strikeouts in the win, and they’ve still yet to score off the Los Angeles bullpen in the series. Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo both struggled again in the Game 4 win. What the Cubs need to get back into the series in earnest is a laugher, an offensive breakout that takes some pressure off the shaky bullpen. What they’ve got is an absent offense and a matchup with Clayton Kershaw on Thursday.

3. The Dodgers’ bullpen keeps chugging

Starter Alex Wood went only 4⅔ innings, but the Dodgers’ bullpen continued mowing down the Cubs’ lineup. A ninth-inning single off Tony Cingrani marked only the third hit the Cubs have notched off Dodgers relievers in the series, and they’ve yet to score a run against the bullpen. Plus, manager Dave Roberts avoided using setup man Brandon Morrow and closer Kenley Jansen in the game, meaning he could likely ride them for up to four combined innings if Kershaw exits early on Thursday.

4. Justin time

Justin Turner went 2-for-2 with a homer and two walks in the game. Among all MLB players in history with at least 100 postseason plate appearances, the Dodgers’ hirsute third baseman is the all-time leader in on-base percentage and ranks third in OPS behind only Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth. Both he and Yasiel Puig have reached base more than half the times they’ve come to the plate in the series to date.

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Michael Bennett Stands Up For Kap.

Written by Brady Henderson at ESPN.com

Seattle Seahawks defensive lineman Michael Bennett said that before NFL players and the league can move forward with their conversations about working together on social causes, the issue of Colin Kaepernick’s unemployment must be addressed.

“I think the first step to even being able to even have a conversation is making sure that Colin Kaepernick gets an opportunity to play in the NFL,” Bennett said Wednesday. “I think before we even negotiate anything about whether we sit, whether we stand [during the national anthem], it should be a negotiation about opening up the doors for Colin Kaepernick and giving him an opportunity again, because I feel like through everything, that’s been lost.

“All of us are having an opportunity to be able to speak to our employers, but to think about the guy who started everything not to be able to have a voice at this moment, it just doesn’t seem very right to me.”

“If you look at the quarterbacks playing in the NFL right now, out of the backups, I can’t name one better than him,” Bennett said.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said Wednesday that he believes players should stand for the national anthem. Bennett, though, said he plans to resume sitting going forward.

Bennett began sitting for the anthem at the start of the preseason and did so through Seattle’s first two regular-season games. The Seahawks and Tennessee Titans remained in the locker room during the anthem before their game in Week 3, which came two days after President Donald Trump made critical comments about NFL players who protest during the national anthem. Bennett and several other Seattle defensive linemen sat before the team’s game in Week 4, then all the Seahawks stood the following week, which defensive end Frank Clark said was in honor of the victims of the Las Vegas mass shooting.

Bennett was critical of the stance taken recently by Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, who said any of his players who don’t stand for the anthem will not play. Bennett called that “crazy” and “inconsiderate of a person being a human being.”

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Carmelo: Phil Jackson Tried To Trade Me For A “Bag Of Chips”

Written by Dan Gartland at SI.com

In Carmelo Anthony’s eyes, the Knicks weren’t asking for nearly enough when Phil Jackson was trying to trade him.

Jackson, Anthony told the New York Times, tried “to trade me for a bag of chips.”

After the Knicks fired Jackson and installed Scott Perry as general manager, the asking price was higher.

“They went from asking for peanuts to asking for steak,” Melo added. The steak was Enes Kanter, Doug McDermott and a second-round pick originally belonging to the Bulls.

The will-they-won’t-they saga of the Knicks’ efforts to move Anthony was the story of the NBA offseason in New York. During the season, Anthony felt he was being “pushed out” of New York by Jackson, he told the Times.

This summer, Melo was open about his desire to leave the Knicks but used his no-trade clause to ensure he landed in the best situation. The Rockets were his top choice for a while before he eventually expanded his list. Even before the Thunder were a contender, his son Kiyan was hopeful Melo would play in OKC, he told the Times.

The Anthony trade was the second big splash the Thunder this summer, after acquiring Paul George for Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis.

Anthony, George and Russell Westbrook open the season on Thursday night at home—against Melo’s old team.

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