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Month: September 2019


Free-agent forward Matt Barnes, who played the last two seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers, was arrested late Monday night on an outstanding misdemeanor traffic warrant and for allegedly threatening a police officer.Barnes, a nine-year NBA veteran, was apprehended “as he was walking on a busy thoroughfare in the city about 20 miles southwest of downtown Los Angeles,” according to the Associated Press.Manhattan Beach police Lt. Steve Tobias said Barnes was uncooperative when he was stopped by police — and that Barnes was going to be booked for allegedly threatening the officer, which is a felony.Authorities said the warrant was for driving on a suspended license.According to City News Service, Barnes was arrested by an officer who was aware that the 32-year-old forward had an outstanding warrant for a misdemeanor traffic offense. According to NBC Los Angeles, Barnes had not paid a $26,000 warrant.He paid that, plus the remaining $25,000 in bail, and was released from the Manhattan Beach Police Department’s jail just before midnight Pacific time.In September 2010, two months after the Lakers signed him to a two-year, $3.67 million deal, Barnes was arrested on suspicion of felony domestic violence. Then-fiancee Gloria Govan disputed the booking at the time, and Barnes ultimately was not charged in connection with that incident.The Los Angles Times reported earlier this month that the Lakers are not expected to re-sign Barnes, preferring instead to go with 23-year-old forward Devin Ebanks. Barnes did not provide the Lakers with the consistent energy and defensive effort it expected from him.He had a chance to solidify his role with the team when Metta World Peace was out serving a lengthy suspension. But Barnes got in foul trouble and was anemic on offense.He is probably among the top 20 remaining free agents, but NBA team had shown much interest in procuring the services of the veteran swingman, who has also played with the Sacramento Kings, New York Knicks, Philadelphia 76ers, Golden State Warriors, Phoenix Suns and Orlando Magic. Surely this latest arrest will not be looked at favorably to teams. read more


San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Michael Crabtree was questioned by police on Friday for his alleged involvement in a sexual assault.According to a written police statement, the alleged assault took place early Sunday morning in a San Francisco hotel, after the 49ers playoff win over the Green Bay Packers.Crabtree, who has not been charged or arrested, has fully cooperated with the Special Victims Unit of the San Francisco Police Department, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. Crabtree has been interviewed by police with his attorney present and has agreed to make himself available for future questioning.After the investigation has been completed by the Specials Victims Unit, they will turn their findings over to the district attorney’s office, where they will decide if any charges should be filed.“We are aware of the allegation against Michael and understand that he has fully cooperated with authorities,” 49ers general manager Trent Baalke said in a statement. “The 49ers take such matters very seriously. We will have no further comment at this time as the legal process is ongoing. Additional requests for comment should be directed to Michael’s attorney.”Crabtree’s attorney has yet to be identified.The 25-year-old Crabtree made the trip to Atlanta with the 49ers as they prepare to play the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC Championship Game on Sunday. The winner will advance to the Super Bowl.Crabtree was selected as the 10th overall pick by the 49ers in the 2009 NFL Draft. This season has been his best since entering the league. He has a career-best 1,105 yard receiving, which made him the first San Francisco wide receiver to have more than 1,000 yards in season since Terrell Owens in 2003.San Francisco is hopeful that Crabtree can have an impressive performance against the Falcons Sunday, which will match or surpass his total against the Packers last week. Crabtree caught two touchdowns and nine receptions for 119 yards. read more


Indianapolis Colts Weslye Saunders has been suspended by NFL officials after he was found in violation of the league’s banned performance enhancing substances.Saunders will miss eight games without pay when the regular season begins. He won’t be eligible to play until after the Colts’ game Nov. 3 against Houston.This isn’t the first time Saunders was caught doping. Last year the league passed down a four-game suspension for violating the same drug policy. He was subsequently released by the Pittsburgh Steelers and signed five days later with the Colts.Saunders has a history of getting in trouble. Back in South Carolina he was kicked off the team after an NCAA investigation found that he had contact with an agent. Saunders left school his final year of eligibility to enter the NFL Draft. read more


Paul Pierce missed a 3-pointer in the final seconds as the Los Angeles Lakers best the Brooklyn Nets, 99-94, from Barclays Center.Brooklyn trailed by 27 points early in the contest and never led but rallied to tie the score after Mirza Teletovic’s career-high 17 point effort. Teletovic blocked Lakers’ Wesley Johnson at the rim and scored four straight points  plus a 3 pointer,  hitting half his free throws to even the score at 92 a piece  with  just under four minutes on the clock.The Lakers recaptured the lead with Johnson’s steal and breakaway dunk with 1:33 left to play, and Brooklyn missed four shots in a row until Alan Anderson’s dunk cut it to 95-94 with 10 seconds remaining.Nick Young led the Lakers with a season-high 26 points off the bench. Pau Gasol netted 21 points while Steve Blake dished out 10 assists.“I thought Nick Young hit some huge shots,” Lakers head coach Mike D’Antoni said. “He played really well to kind of get us out of our funk.”Joe Johnson carried Brooklyn with 18 points. Pierce scored 12 but struggled with his shooting, making 4-of-17 from the field.“It’s frustrating when the ball doesn’t go your way, but eventually I know these shots throughout the course of 82 games are going to fall for me,” Pierce said.Right before halftime The Nets  came out of a timeout with a 15-0 run however, the shooting was off and the Lakers took a 54-40 lead into the locker rooms.Pierce scored 10 in the third and his layup in the final minute had the Nets within single digits heading into the final period. Teletovic opened the fourth with a triple, and Brooklyn was competitive the rest of the way.The Nets haven’t beaten LA since Nov. 27, 2007, when current head coach Jason Kidd  had on a jersey and scored 15 points and handed out 14 assists. read more


natesilver: Our model thought the DeMarcus Cousins injury was a pretty big deal. Although I think it overrated how effective Cousins had been this season.sara.ziegler: All season, Cousins has been more about potential in our model.But the Warriors didn’t need him early in the season, obviously.tchow: I have nothing much to say about this series, but I do want to point readers to this interview KD gave before Game 3. natesilver: It’s not that they’re going to lose to the Clippers, but I do just have to wonder about a team’s mentality when they can blow a 30-point lead.chris.herring: NBC analyst Tom Haberstroh pointed out that Steph was only averaging 19.9 points per 36 minutes this season with Boogie on the court, and that he essentially morphed into Malcolm Brogdon.Averaged 31.4 points per 36 minutes without DeMarcus on the floor.sara.ziegler: Wownatesilver: I mean, part of that might be that Steph was being deferential in an effort to get Cousins feeling like himself again.chris.herring: EXACTLYWhich … there isn’t time to do that in the playoffs.tchow: Definitely. I think Steph went through a similar dip when KD joined too.chris.herring: The last thing you want is Steph playing nice when you need him to be Steph.natesilver: It does just seem kind of impossible when you have to shut down Steph AND KD and Klay. Even if the rest of the team kind of sucks.chris.herring: I tend to think this helps them for now, but the Rockets series was one of the overarching reasons they signed Cousins — to make it so Houston couldn’t switch as much as they did on them last yearnatesilver: Yeah. So in some ways, we’re back to last year’s series, which was as even as it gets. The Rockets lately are playing as well as last year. And the Warriors without Cousins are basically last year’s team.sara.ziegler: After this matchup, will we even want to finish out the playoffs??natesilver: Well, the Western Conference finals are likely to be an anti-climax.tchow: LOL. Yes! I for one am very interested to see who comes out of the East to play against Warriors/Rockets.Check out our latest NBA predictions. Everyone’s like, “Why are these four stars such awkward fits together” — and I’ll admit that they’re a little awkward, but with a half-decent bench, it’s an entirely different team.chris.herring: I don’t think it’s a terrible bench. And the truth is, you can stagger when you have that many stars.But the spots in which it’s terrible … yeah.tchow: Sixers’ bench: Who? Who? Who? The big guy. Who? and Who?sara.ziegler: 🤣chris.herring: That’s their issue, I think. I’m not sure Boban Marjanovic would work against every team. But he’s their backup big.natesilver: I saw Boban at the United Airlines lounge at Newark Airport one time. He was very big and tall and sitting in a giant lounge chair and still looked very big and tall.chris.herring: I tweeted last night that I’m pretty sure he dunked last night with one foot still on the ground.Anyway: I want to talk more about how disappointed I am in Brooklyntchow: Are you just disappointed in their central A/C system at Barclays, Chris? chris.herring: If and when the NBA move the first round back to a best-of-five, they’re going to use this series as evidence as why. (edited)natesilver: I think there needs to be a mercy rule where you can concede your playoff series and get like three Lottery Balls or whatever.sara.ziegler: OK, let’s move back to the West. The Trail Blazers are off to a great start, up 2-0 against the Thunder. Our model is surprised at this series — it had given the Thunder a 77-23 edge. Are you guys surprised?chris.herring: Yes. I’m surprised. Maybe stupid, too.natesilver: I mean, if Paul George isn’t himself, our model is gonna screw that series up.tchow: He’s hurt!chris.herring: I feel like a contrarian now, but I don’t even think he’s shoulder is the problem anymore. He shot the ball semi-decently last game.Russ is shooting like he’s the one injured.tchow: Our model can’t predict that Russell Westbrook will shoot 35 percent and 10 percent from 3-point range in this series.chris.herring: EXACTLYWhat I will say is that I don’t have a lot of faith in OKC if it’s simply relying on the notion that its shooting will improve.They are shooting 16 PERCENT from three in this series.Which, while God awful, is only a slight regression for them!natesilver: That whole quadrant of the bracket — OKC, Portland, San Antonio, Denver — seems incredibly weak to me.chris.herring: If OKC had a team full of sharpshooters, I could understand having more confidence.But Russ still defends Damian Lillard as if he’s surprised that Dame can/will pull up from 35 feet.The guy needs to be treated as if he’s Steph at this pointtchow: I don’t want to take anything away from Portland. Yes, they lost Jusuf Nurkic, but CJ and Dame have been awesome this series.chris.herring: I came in thinking that this might be a sweep or a 4-1 series in favor of OKC. Simply thought that not having Nurkic would hurt against someone like Steven Adams. I thought CJ McCollum would struggle to find a rhythm (he’s coming off an injury and wasn’t good vs. OKC during the season). We watched Dame log 35 a night against the Thunder during the season and still get swept 4-0 during the regular season.tchow: CJ has been 🔥chris.herring: I didn’t think they had a great chance in this series. They had lost 10 playoff games in a row. With the exception of perimeter shooting, I thought just about everything else would be in OKC’s favor. Wrong, wrong, wrong.tchow: If Dame wasn’t in Portland, would he still be this underrated? It feels like this is a storyline every season.sara.ziegler: That’s a good question.How many people regularly see him play?tchow: Basketball nerds: “Look at Damian Lillard!”Basketball fans: “Who this?”chris.herring: I guess we have to define underrated.natesilver: He was All-NBA First Team last season, no?But, yeah, Portland has to be one of the least-watched teams in the league, or at least by people not in the Pacific Time Zone.chris.herring: Even if you know who he is, and how great he is, I think you could objectively look at this series — and what the Blazers have done the last two years in the playoffs (0-8) — and say OKC should have been favored.tchow: For OKC to take Game 3, they need to ____________.And don’t say something like “play better” (looks at Nate).sara.ziegler: SHOOT BETTERchris.herring: … shoot better than my 4-year-old nephew does from outside of 23 feet.natesilver: I’d say they need to play better basketball.sara.ziegler: In the other non-Warriors series out West, the Rockets are handling the Jazz easily so far, setting up a showdown with Golden State in the second round. This has played out about as expected, right?chris.herring: I had higher hopes for Jazz-Rockets. Am impressed with how dominant Houston has looked, but thought Utah would play better than this. Their defensive scheme has looked downright nonsensical to metchow: If Chris has a soft spot for Indiana, I think I have a soft spot for Utah. I love this team and wanted more out of them this series.sara.ziegler: Utah is a very likable team.natesilver: I didn’t expect Houston to dismantle Utah quite so thoroughly.In fact, I think that’s the story of the first round so far. It’s a highly consequential story because the Rockets are absolutely good enough to give the Warriors a series.chris.herring: The disappointment I feel with Utah is equivalent to how excited I am for the second round, with Warriors-Rockets.That will seemingly be the Western Conference finals, just a round early.natesilver: It would be quite something if the Rockets actually need fewer games to dispatch Utah than Golden State needs with the Clippers.chris.herring: Seriously.tchow: The Jazz just seem like a team that’s so close to figuring it out. Maybe not to a point where you think they can beat Golden State, but they’re so good in the regular season. I don’t know what happens to them in the playoffs.chris.herring: Yeah, I sort of agree in theory, Tony.But I think what I’ve learned is that I have to be leery of a team that relies on such a young player to be its leading scorer.natesilver: Maybe you just need more isolation scoring in the playoffs? Or more scoring, period?chris.herring: I remember a stat from last year: Donovan Mitchell was the first rookie to lead a playoff team in regular-season scoring since Carmelo Anthony.I think there’s a reason we don’t see it happen much. And I think it’s even more problematic for a team built like that to have all sorts of horrible defensive breakdowns, because at that point, you know they have no shot at keeping up in a shootout against one of the best scorers in modern history.If Quin Snyder rolls out the exact same defensive scheme that he did in Games 1 and 2, this series will end in a sweep.natesilver: Is Mitchell … a little bit like Carmelo Anthony in that he’s taking too many shots? I mean, I guess he has to take a lot of shots with that lineup. But Utah really needs another player who can create his own shot.tchow: What if you played a player like Royce O’Neale more? He’s +1.8 on defense (according to our model), and it looks like they do a bit better defensively with him on the floor.chris.herring: He’s another example of what Nate is talking about, though: A guy that isn’t likely to create his own shot.This is a team that will need to take a long, hard look at itself this summer despite how well it’s played during the second half of these last two seasons.tchow: One obvious fix would be to get rid of Grayson Allen.KIDDING!!!natesilver: I also think Utah benefits from being a bit unorthodox. Rubio is an unorthodox point guard. They’re defense-first. They can play at a slow pace, although they picked up their pace a lot this year. They’re well-coached. So there’s an advantage from game-planning in the regular season. But Daryl Morey and the Rockets are going to study the hell out of the Jazz and know how to counter.chris.herring: Some of these teams are built to play really, really well in the regular season. And there’s incredible value in that, for seeding purposes, etc.But the inability to change your playing style when you’re forced to is often fatal this time of year.sara.ziegler: Finally, Golden State seemed like Golden State in Game 3 of their series against the Clippers. So that panic appears to be over?chris.herring: Hell, they seemed like Golden State in Game 2 to me!It was just a massive collapse at the end of Game 2.sara.ziegler: LOLchris.herring: I actually pointed out yesterday that the game played out exactly the same way for a long while: sara.ziegler (Sara Ziegler, assistant sports editor): We’ve had almost one full week of games in the NBA playoffs, and trends are emerging. Golden State took a 31-point third-quarter lead over the Clippers on Thursday night … and didn’t lose! So after a few early surprises, things seem to be getting back to what we expected.One series not playing out according to seeding is San Antonio-Denver. The No. 7 Spurs beat the No. 2 Nuggets 118-108 on Thursday to take a 2-1 lead in the series. This comes as a surprise to the FiveThirtyEight NBA Predictions model, which had Denver as an 88 percent favorite to move on. The Nuggets are still favored, but just 60-40. Are you guys surprised by how this series is going?chris.herring (Chris Herring, senior staff writer): Not all that much, no. I think I picked Denver out of respect for the season it had. But this was the one team basically everybody had questions about coming in.I had the series going seven games, with Denver winning. It could easily be 3-0 Spurs right now.tchow (Tony Chow, video producer): I am surprised, but I don’t think we really should be. It’s the Spurs being the Spurs again.natesilver (Nate Silver, editor in chief): Our model doesn’t like San Antonio very much, so given their regular-season performance and home-court advantage — and Denver has a big home-court advantage — the Nuggets were pretty clear favorites. But it didn’t really like the Nuggets all that much either. They aren’t a great playoff team because their depth doesn’t really help them in the playoffs, the topline talent is not all that good, and they don’t have much playoff experience.So I’m surprised that we had them as high as 88 percent, frankly! But not surprised that the Spurs are ahead in the series.chris.herring: On Denver’s home-court advantage: The Nuggets haven’t beaten the Spurs in San Antonio in 14 tries now.tchow: I am surprised because at one point in the season, our model gave the Spurs just a 4 percent chance of even making the postseason. We had a story a while back that talked about how they started turning it around (better defense, better bench production), but they were still underdogs going into this series, in my opinion.sara.ziegler: Yeah, I had sort of counted the Spurs out a long time ago.Let that be a lesson to me: Never count out Pop.The experience factor really seems to be hurting the Nuggets so far. (And our model took 3 points away from them for their lack of playoff experience.)chris.herring: Nuggets coach Mike Malone has talked about the experience factor a pretty decent amount in the past weekHis young starting point guard, Jamal Murray, began Game 2 going 0-for-8. Malone was asked if he gave thought to pulling him because of Murray’s performance. He said no, in part because he needed to show his young players that he believed in them, and that he’s with them, win or lose. Murray responded by hitting 8-of-9 in the final quarter to bring the Nuggets all the way back for a dramatic win.The win probably saved their season for the time being. But it speaks to the volatility of having such a young/young-minded club.tchow: Murray wasn’t much better in Game 3 — just 6 points and two assists. I’m not trying to pin Denver’s failing’s this postseason all on Murray, though. All the Nuggets starters were pretty terrible in Game 3.chris.herring: It’s a pretty big contrast between the teams.While we’re talking about the growing pains for a young team, it’s worth pointing out that the Spurs are being led in part by youngster Derrick White, whose defense is his calling card. I think this is his first real exposure to a national audience, but he’s been playing really well for months.tchow: White’s Game 3 performance was kind of a reminder for a lot of people who don’t watch the Spurs that he existed.sara.ziegler: LOLchris.herring: White’s experience has been different because of all the injuries they’ve had. But White and Dejounte Murray are going to be an annoyingly good backcourt once the team is healthy again next season. AND there’s Bryn Forbes, too.natesilver: The whole Nuggets backcourt feels like it’s way short of championship caliber. It needs an anchor. There are lots of useful pieces you could rotate around that anchor, like Murray and Gary Harris, but without that anchor, it doesn’t quite come together.chris.herring: It’s tough: They have a fantastic, sure-handed backup in Monte Morris, who led the NBA in assist/turnover ratio.sara.ziegler: MORE MONTE MORRISCyclones, represent!chris.herring: He may not win a game for you. But he’s extremely unlikely to ever lose one for you, which you could argue Murray either occasionally does, or comes close to doing. Again: These are the growing pains for a young team sometimes.sara.ziegler: On to another team that has seemed shaky at times this postseason: the Philadelphia 76ers. But they seem to have recovered from their upset in Game 1 — they’ve beaten the Nets convincingly twice in a row now. What looked different for them in Games 2 and 3?tchow: Ben. Simmons.natesilver: Sen. Bimmons.chris.herring: Yeah, that sounds about right. Whether it was Jared Dudley that got in his head, or just him recognizing that he had to be more aggressive, Simmons has been a completely different player since Game 1.tchow: Simmons had a -21 plus/minus in Game 1. Game 2 he was +23, and then +11 in Game 3 with a 31 point performance on 85 percent shooting.chris.herring: I hate to say this, because maybe it’s premature, but I was beginning to think that the Nets could steal this series if things broke right for them.tchow: I think a lot of people thought that, Chris. The Nets are legit and play really hard.chris.herring: The Nets stole home-court advantage in Game 1. Were basically even at halftime of Game 2. And then get a gift rolled out on a platter for them, with Joel Embiid sitting out of a Game 3 played in their home arena, in front of a fan base that hasn’t hosted a playoff game in four years.Thursday was their chance. And I think with the loss now, that might be about it.natesilver: I’m in the Ben-Simmons-is-underrated camp. Yeah, he doesn’t really have a jumpshot. But he does pretty much everything else well. And there have been a lot of players throughout NBA history who have survived or even thrived without jump shots — Giannis Antetokounmpo basically does that now. The advanced stats like Simmons.tchow: I think it’s very different for a player like Giannis to not have a jump shot than Simmons.chris.herring: While we’re on the issue of Simmons, I think we learned that Embiid not being there might have been a help for himFor all the wonderful things Embiid does, he plays at a plodding pace.Someone like Simmons thrives in an up-tempo environment because of his inability to shoot.tchow: Sara, I found the hot take for next week’s Hot Takedown episode: FiveThirtyEight’s Chris Herring says Sixers are better without Joel Embiid.sara.ziegler: LOLOLOLYes!chris.herring: They might be in this series! Well, probably not: Greg Monroe was rough.If they had more depth, they might be.natesilver: That’s the thing about Philly. Look how bad their bench is: chris.herring: Well, that too.sara.ziegler: Are you disappointed that their slogan is “We go hard,” and then they didn’t?chris.herring: They did go hard!It’s not a question of effort with them. It never is. But I think what Nate alluded to is exactly the issue here. The Sixers’ bench isn’t great/may be bad. And the Nets’ second-best player is their bench.natesilver: Yeah, Brooklyn’s not totally unlike Denver. Excellent depth, no playoff experience, frontline talent is meh.tchow: Nate, they’re both small-market teams. I get it. (Queens represent!)sara.ziegler: OMGTony trying to start a borough war here.chris.herring: You generally see Brooklyn go on these massive runs in the second quarter of these games. But then after halftime, the game gets broken open, and Kenny Atkinson — who I really, really like — waits too long to call a timeout!The Sixers went on a 21-2 (!!!!) run in Game 2 before Atkinson called for timeout. It took a 1-point deficit and expanded it to a 20-point lead for the Sixers. And then the game was over.tchow: Maybe Atkinson is from the Phil Jackson school of letting the players figure it out on their own.natesilver: What was the atmosphere like at Barclay’s, Chris? I think it’s one of the coolest venues in sports from an architectural/amenities standpoint, but every time I’ve gone, the fans are sort of half-hearted.chris.herring: Last night was amazing to start the game. But I think they were sort of stunned to see the team run out of steam.And as Tony said: I was freezing.sara.ziegler: Well, it is a hockey rink, too.chris.herring: So maybe the have to have the ice ready? But good lord.My phone turned off at one point because of how cold it was.sara.ziegler: WowThat’s cold.chris.herring: The atmosphere was really great. It’s good to have the playoffs in Brooklyn again. And hopefully Manhattan at some point in the next couple years. (side-eyes Knicks)natesilver: Knicks fans should be rooting against Boston and against Golden State, right?chris.herring: I’ve heard the same stuff everyone else has about Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving coming to the Knicks. As much as I hear it, I just have to see it to believe that it’ll actually happen.natesilver: I think KD could leave either after a championship or a flameout. But Kyrie — yeah, he’s already flip-flopped enough that I think Knicks fans want the Celtics out by Round 2.chris.herring: I think I’m just too conditioned to believe that nothing overwhelmingly good can happen for/with the Knicks unless there’s an enormous downside that comes with it.sara.ziegler: LOLnatesilver: My current scenario is that they get Kyrie and also draft Ja Morant and somehow that turns into a disaster.sara.ziegler: Speaking of Kyrie, the Celtics are making quick work of the Pacers. Indiana doesn’t seem to have quite enough offense so far to hang with Boston.chris.herring: 😔tchow: I’m actually interesting to read Chris’s thoughts on this series. I remember A LOT of people were down on Boston going into the playoffs.chris.herring: Yeah. I had some hope that this could be an interesting series.But I also was tasked with writing an Indiana-based primer for the ESPN side ahead of this series. When I got to the “Why Indiana can win section,” I sat and stared at my screen for like an hour.So this actually doesn’t surprise me all that much.They simply don’t have enough offense. Or ingenuity.natesilver: I haven’t watched much of that series; pretty much my only recollection was seeing a score that was like 76-59 in the fourth quarter of Game 1 and thinking I needed to update my contact lens prescription, but nope, that was the actual score.chris.herring: They basically hand the ball off to Bojan Bogdanovic and say, “Do something.” Kind of like a kid who does a magic trick, but is still holding the quarter in his hand, in plain sight, for everyone to see.tchow: Has Boston done anything to change people’s minds about their chances though?chris.herring: No. They’re merely beating a flawed, weakened team, IMO.tchow: That’s what I figured about Boston. The real test, if they do end up beating the Pacers, will probably come against Milwaukee.chris.herring: In fairness to Nate McMillan and the Pacers, this was always going to be an uphill battle, because they’re playing without Victor Oladipo. It was a great accomplishment to go 21-21 this season without their star player after going 0-7 without him last season.sara.ziegler: Yeah, they don’t really have anything to feel embarrassed about.chris.herring: I really like Indiana, and have a soft spot for Little-Engine-That-Could sort of teams. But they need some reinvention.They could use more firepower. But they need better schemes.natesilver: I feel like the whole first round could use more firepower. Between inexperienced teams, teams with injury problems, teams without any star talent … it feels a little bit like spring training or something.tchow: I agree, but it has been more interesting than I imagined.chris.herring: A little.sara.ziegler: Let’s talk about the other interesting series in the East: No. 2 Toronto has had its hands full with No. 7 Orlando. The Magic took the first game, but the Raptors stormed back in Game 2. The teams will face off Friday night in Orlando. Do we think the Magic have a realistic shot in this series?natesilver: Mayyyyyybe?chris.herring: It depends on what you define as “a shot.” I think they can get another game, potentially. I don’t think they will win the series. The Raptors responded in Game 2 the way you hoped a top-flight team would.sara.ziegler: But the Magic are underrated, Chris!I heard you say so.chris.herring: Oh, they are. And not enough people know that.But I don’t think that I ever conflated them being underrated with the notion that they should somehow beat the Raptors in a series.tchow: Kyle Lowry responded in Game 2 the way you hoped. Chris wrote about Lowry’s Game 1 woes before, but he responded in a big way.natesilver: Orlando is a weird-ass team, and they played very well in the second half of the season.If you’re looking for an upset pick, I’d rather pick a weird team than a normal one.chris.herring: If they had played competitively in Game 2, sure.Or had a matchup they could readily exploit.sara.ziegler: The Raptors had a 98 percent chance to win this series before the playoffs start, and now they’re all the way down to 93 percent. So things are still looking pretty good for them.In the last series in the East, the Bucks had a little trouble with Detroit before pulling away in Game 2. But the most interesting thing to me about that game was Blake Griffin picking up his second technical foul of the series.Blake Griffin, you’ll recall, has not actually played yet in this series.tchow: Bucks in four. I think we can move on?sara.ziegler: LOLchris.herring: Yeah. That’s literally the only thing I find interesting about this series. That, and finding out how far away from the basket Giannis can dunk from.tchow: The NBA tweet highlights of Giannis dunks have been the only saving grace of this series. read more


OSU senior attacker Ryan Hunter (16) celebrates with teammates after a goal during a game against Marquette on March 4 at Ohio Stadium. OSU won 12-8.Credit: Jenna Leinasars | Multimedia EditorThe Ohio State men’s lacrosse team is hoping to end its four-game losing streak on Sunday when it is set to kick off the Big Ten portion of its schedule against No. 18 Penn State.OSU senior defenseman Chris Mahoney said the team is not trying to change too much in the midst of the four-game slide, which all came against top-20 opponents.“It’s really just getting back to the basics and focusing on the early days in the week,” Mahoney said.After a grueling end to the nonconference portion of the schedule, a return to conference opponents is something some players on the team said they are looking forward to.“We’re so late in the season that people are starting to deteriorate physically and mentally, and as soon as you hear that we’re back in Big Ten’s it’s … a whole big rush of emotions and feelings, especially for the older and experienced guys,” Mahoney said.However, OSU coach Nick Myers said the focus has to be on the game ahead.“You’ve got to kind of put that aside and just prepare yourself and make sure that your team is ready to go, then take a hard look at (Penn State’s) strengths,” Myers said. “They’ve got a very good offense. They’re shooting the ball particularly well, they’re getting a great effort at the faceoff X, and they’re very well-coached defensively.”Penn State (6-3) heads into the matchup coming off a 15-10 win against then-No. 1 Denver, one that Myers called “certainly a big win.”The Nittany Lions offense currently ranks 12th in the nation with an average of 12.67 goals per game. The attack is spearheaded by freshman Grant Whent, who leads the team with 20 assists, and senior T.J. Sanders, whose 20 goals is tops on the team.Although game film and preparation are components of the Buckeyes’ overall game plan this week to stop Penn State’s offense, senior defender Robby Haus said the main focus comes internal.“Right now we’re focusing on ‘chasing us,’ is what coach calls it, and it’s basically just trying to play our best lacrosse of the year this Sunday,” Haus said.Offensive slumpThe Buckeye offense has struggled as of late, failing to score double-digit goals in each of the last five games.The Scarlet and Gray have been without sophomore attacker Colin Chell the last four games and junior midfielder John Kelly the last six. Even so, players on that side of the ball have not given any excuses, Mahoney said.“Guys really don’t put any blame on that and they really put a lot of pressure on themselves, which is awesome to see as competitors and teammates,” he said. “It’s finally nice to start seeing some results, as we are seeing in this week’s practice so far.”Myers emphasized the need for different players on offense to fill the roles vacated by Chell and Kelly.“We need some other guys to continue to step up. It was nice to see Johnny Pearson step up on Saturday versus a stingy Notre Dame defense, and I think efforts like that are going to be important for us moving forward,” Myers said.Pearson almost matched his season total of five goals in the 9-8 loss to the Fighting Irish, as he scored four times. “We’re going to have to get to 10 (goals) to be able to win this game Saturday,” Myers said.What’s nextThe Scarlet and Gray are scheduled to continue Big Ten play on April 9 in Baltimore against No. 9 Johns Hopkins. The game against the Blue Jays is set to begin at 2 p.m. read more


OSU redshirt sophomore guard Sierra Calhoun (4) turns the corner to drive to the hoop during a scrimmage against Ashland on Nov. 6 at the Schottenstein Center. OSU won, 88-78. Credit: Zach Konno | For The LanternFollowing an 88-79 exhibition win over the Ashland Eagles on Sunday, Ohio State women’s basketball head coach Kevin McGuff was not shy about voicing his displeasure with his team’s performance.“We had an overall lack of focus and effort that was disappointing, quite frankly,” McGuff said.He also said  Ashland did a great job of executing throughout the game and praised the opponent for sticking to its game plan.“We didn’t do anything to make it hard on them,” McGuff said. “We had a couple flurries where we kind of pressed them a little bit, but we didn’t sustain anything with any consistency because we didn’t have focus and energy that would give them problems.”After Ashland claimed the opening tip, it was a back-and-forth contest for most of the first quarter. Ashland pulled it to within one at 22-21 with 1:34 remaining in the first, but an 11-0 run by the Buckeyes put the score at 33-21 early in the second.OSU took a 47-36 lead into the half, but a 9-3 Ashland run to begin the third put the Eagles within five at 50-45. OSU would then use a 17-4 run to claim a 67-49 lead early in the fourth.The Eagles used one last push to slowly chip away at the Buckeyes’ 18-point lead. Ashland brought it to within six at 82-76 with 2:06 left before OSU closed out the tight win.McGuff said that the Buckeyes displayed much more effort in a recent closed-door scrimmage.“Early in the year, we’re picking and choosing where we’re going to have our best effort,” McGuff said. “That’s a really dangerous thing for a team to do.”Cooper leads the wayThis offseason, senior forward Shayla Cooper said that OSU’s depth would allow her to slide into a more comfortable role. At times last season, she had to play in the middle due to depth issues. On Sunday, Cooper looked more like a guard than a forward.“It was stuff that I worked on all summer, so I was glad to be able to put it to test,” Cooper said.The 6-foot-2 forward brought the ball up the court to set up the offense on several occasions as well.“Coach put a big emphasis on that in these past couple of practices,” Cooper said. “If you get the rebound, go.”Cooper finished with a team-high 20 points on 7-of-10 shooting. She added four rebounds and four assists in 24 minutes.Newcomers showcase talentOf OSU’s 88 points, 42 came from three new additions to the Buckeyes’ roster. Redshirt junior transfer Stephanie Mavunga (previously at North Carolina) led all newcomers with 18 points on 7-for-12 shooting and a 4-for-4 mark at the free throw line. The forward added eight rebounds and a team-high five blocks.“I think she’s still not where she’s going to be,” McGuff said. “You can see today what she’s capable of doing, but she also missed some shots that I think she can make, and she can be better defensively and on the boards.”Redshirt sophomore guard Sierra Calhoun, a transfer from Duke, tallied 12 points on 4-of-10 from the field. True freshman Kiara Lewis put up 12 points on 4-of-4 shooting and buried both of her three-point attempts, but she went just 2-of-10 from the free throw line.Freshman guard Jensen Caretti also saw the court, but she was 0-of-1 from the field in 10 minutes.Mitchell struggles from the fieldJunior guard Kelsey Mitchell, who was voted as the Big Ten’s Preseason Player of the Year, couldn’t find her shot on Sunday. She went just 5-of-20 from the field and missed all eight of her three-point attempts.“She wasn’t her normal self,” McGuff said. “But, we had other people step up.”Of OSU’s 88 points, 77 came from players other than Mitchell, something that likely would have not happened with last year’s team.“That’s the beauty of this team, is we have a lot of offensive weapons,” McGuff said.Up nextOSU will tip off its regular season on Nov. 1 at noon against Duquesne at St. John Arena. read more


Leadership isn’t always loud.Not every leader is known for their rousing, Knute Rockne-esque halftime speeches. Not every leader is hailed for their ability to get into the face of their charges and spur them to action.Sometimes leadership is closing your mouth as tight as possible, putting your head down and grinding through the adversity. It’s being an example to your teammates when the pucks aren’t bouncing your way. It’s playing every shift hurt. It’s being a constant target for every goon on the ice looking to make a name for himself by delivering a big hit to a star.It’s Rick Nash.Thus far, the Columbus Blue Jackets have followed up their first run to the NHL playoffs a year ago with a forgettable first half in this year’s season. The losing has been hard on everyone. Columbus is a young team in need of strong leadership.So when the proverbial going gets rough, these Jackets look to Nash to show the way.  But it’s not always just the younger players who are leaning on him to do more while times are tough. Sometimes it’s the oldest guy in the dressing room.“There are a lot of top scorers in the NHL that don’t kill penalties, don’t do all the grunt work at the end and start of hockey games,” Columbus coach Ken Hitchcock said. “We tell him here to do everything. That’s a special player who can do that.”And Nash has delivered.He’s the Blue Jackets’ leading scorer with 47 points, which includes 23 goals. He leads the team in power play goals (7) and short-handed goals (2). A lot of other high-profile, top-tier NHL scorers aren’t willing to do those little things on special teams, especially when the season appears to be on the brink of collapse.“There’s not many players in the world that can go out and be one of four or five penalty killers, kill three-on-fives, play five-on-threes, play five-on-fours, do everything.  And Rick has to do it every night,” Hitchcock said.  “There’s a lot of scoring guys who went through scoring struggles like Rick went through who don’t kill penalties, which really zaps your energy.”The scoring struggle Hitchcock is referring to is Nash’s career-high 11-game scoreless streak, which he snapped in a recent game against Chicago. Since ending that dry spell, Nash has been on a tear.In the past three games, against some of the better competition the NHL has to offer, Nash has scored four goals and recorded five points, which included the 400th point of his young career. So is it too late for this quiet, do-it-all leader to right the ship and make a playoff push for the Jackets down the stretch?“I don’t look at ‘too late,’” Hitchcock said of the prospects for the remainder of the season. “You’re a team. I look at it as the growth of a team. We’re right on the edge.”Given their uneven play, it’s hard not to envision the Jackets with a white-knuckled grip on that edge Hitchcock is referring to.But with a leader like Nash, who is willing to do whatever it takes, hope springs eternal. read more


Ticket sales for the upcoming Ohio State men’s basketball season, originally scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. Tuesday, have been postponed because of “technical difficulties,” said Brett Scarbrough, senior director of ticketing for OSU. The e-mail informing students of the launch of ticket sales was sent Monday morning, but a significant number of students did not receive the information. “We realized the problem this (Tuesday) morning that the e-mails had not broadcast,” Scarbrough said. “It had sent about 49,000 e-mails at the point where we made the decision to postpone the on-sale.” He said that makes up about 70 percent of the e-mails that were going to be sent. Once the e-mails were stopped, officials realized the problem. “Specifically it relates to how the e-mail servers at both ends of the pipeline are talking to each other and allowing the flow of e-mails to come through,” Scarbrough said. Shortly after 4 p.m., the athletic department sent out a press release stating, “Tickets were supposed to go on sale today, but technical difficulties caused the sale date to be postponed.” Other efforts to inform students included a tweet by Assistant Athletic Director of Communications Dan Wallenberg that read, “Student tickets for Ohio State men’s basketball will go on sale at 4 p.m. next Tuesday, Oct. 12. Sale today was postponed-technical issues.” Despite the efforts, some students did not hear of the change. “I still signed on at (4 p.m.), still not knowing it was even postponed,” said Jake Schaurer, welcoming director for the OSU Sportsmanship Council. A message on the university website informed Schaurer of the delay, but he never got the initial e-mail announcing that ticket sales were beginning. “I was fortunate to have contacts that are involved in athletics that told me it was going on at (4 p.m.), but I would have had no way to know otherwise,” he said. Those contacts included the student seating group Block “O.” “We did a reminder … to Block ‘O’ members about the availability of the tickets,” said Josh Daenens, president of the organization. “It really had nothing to do with the athletic department.” The university is taking the time to work out the server problems, officials said. “Instead of 24 hours or 48 hours,” Scarbrough said, “we wanted to make sure there was plenty of time to get the servers in working condition.” Chelsea Castle and Zack Meisel contributed to this story. read more


Following Sunday’s 109-94 win against Michigan, the Ohio State men’s track team will bring “The Dual” banner back to Columbus for a fourth straight time. “I was very pleased with the team’s performance today in cold and windy conditions,” coach Robert Gary said. “We had some good marks, but ‘The Dual’ is really about competing man versus man. And in that regard, I thought we did a fantastic job even after we had the team win secured in the scoring.” The Buckeyes won 11 of 19 events. “We performed very well,” senior Aaron Roberts said. “Obviously, the conditions were not ideal, but we were able to come out with the win. We have to continue getting better each week as our focus turns to Big Ten.” Junior Michael Hartfield took first in the long jump and triple jump, finishing with jumps of 7.35 meters and 14.73 meters, respectively. “In regards to my personal performance, I think I did an OK job,” Hartfield said. “Although I wasn’t able to jump to the marks I wanted to, I was still able to come through and place high in all three jumps and help win the dual as a team. Also, to get that dual pennant for coach Gary’s birthday gift.” “The Dual” takes place at one indoor meet and one outdoor meet between OSU and Michigan. OSU is 6-2 in the event since it was reintroduced in 2008. The track team will compete next at 3 p.m. Thursday at the Polytan Invitational in Bloomington, Ind. read more