Atlanta Falcons will NOT suffer Super Bowl hangover in 2017

The Super Bowl hangover isn’t a myth. It’s real. History and the eyeball test in the salary cap era tell you it is the truth: Losing on the game’s biggest stage can have repercussions that last long after Super Sunday.

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Since 2000, half of the Super Bowl losers failed to even make the postseason in the following campaign. Just two got back to the conference title game — none returned to the Super Bowl.

The most recent hangover victim? Carolina. The Panthers went from an NFL-best 15-1 in 2015 to 6-10 and dead last in the NFC South last fall. Cam Newton followed up his league MVP campaign with the worst statistical season of his professional life.

So, given this preamble, it’s easy to foresee Atlanta suffering a Super Bowl hangover of epic proportions, right? After all, this team blew a 25-point, second-half lead in Super Bowl LI, handing the Patriots their fifth Lombardi Trophy. Can you imagine the figurative pounding headache that comes from that kind of choke job?

But here’s the thing: I believe in the 2017 Falcons. I think Atlanta’s only gotten better this offseason. I think February’s unthinkable heartbreak is going to fuel this prideful bunch. I think the experience has only made these Falcons stronger.

I can easily see Atlanta getting right back to the Super Bowl in Minneapolis next February.

These Falcons, under general manager Thomas Dimitroff and head coach Dan Quinn, are spectacularly built. The roster oozes talent, starting on the offensive side of the ball.

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Matt Ryan is a star and now has an MVP trophy to prove it. Having just turned 32, Ryan’s squarely in his prime, fresh off a season where he put up some crazy numbers, including a 69.9 percent completion rate, a 9.3 yards-per-attempt figure and a 117.1 quarterback rating. Now, Ryan did lose his offensive coordinator when Kyle Shanahan took the head-coaching gig in San Francisco. That’s a blow, no doubt. But I loved the Steve Sarkisian hiring. And Ryan still has quite a set of toys at his disposal.

Julio Jones might be the best receiver in the game today. The guy’s an absolute beast who can single-handedly take over a game. (Just ask the Packers.) And Atlanta boasts strong pass-catching depth beyond Jones. Mohamed Sanu’s a quintessential professional, while Taylor Gabriel’s a speed merchant last seen embarrassing Pats stud Malcolm Butler. Tight end Austin Hooper showed plenty of promise in his rookie season, bringing some more speed up the seam.

The Falcons’ $1.4 billion new home, which is set to open August 26, will rise to 30 stories high, feature a retractable roof that can open and close in seven minutes and many amazing views of Atlanta’s skyline.

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However, all of that will be overshadowed — figuratively and possibly literally — by this gigantic stainless steel bird. The statue is 41.5 feet tall and weighs 73,000 pounds. It was created by Gabor Miklos Szoke, who has a thing for nightmarish birds, having constructed the largest bird monument in Europe for the Hungarian football club FTC.

One Twitter user noticed its resemblance to another intimidating bird figure here in the U.S.

The man with the self-proclaimed “best motor” in the 2017 NFL Draft class now has a contract.

The Atlanta Falcons announced Thursday they have agreed to terms with first-round pick Takkarist McKinley, who was selected No. 26 overall last month.

A two-year starter at UCLA, McKinley logged 99 total tackles, 28 tackles for loss, 16 sacks, six forced fumbles and 10 passes defensed in his three years in Westwood. Atlanta traded up five spots to select him last month.

The Falcons also announced Thursday they have agreed to terms with three other draft picks: linebacker Duke Riley, running back Brian Hill and tight end Eric Saubert.

With injury to Kevin Durant, Golden State Warriors’ aura of invincibility gone

Well, that was quick. The Warriors’ season went from “can they win 70 games?” to “will they stay No. 1 in the West?” faster than LeBron James chased down that Andre Iguodala layup.

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As you might imagine, these are somewhat fearful times with the Dubs, given the Kevin Durant injury situation, and as such, projections of dominance are being nervously appealed. The aura of invincibility is gone, if only temporarily, and suddenly we have suspense near the top of the Western Conference.

The five-alarm fire was sounded recently when the Warriors lost two straight games — oh, the horrors — for the first time in what seemed like decades. Nevermind that the Warriors still employ a rare NBA Big Three, and that Iguodala looked downright frisky Monday night in Atlanta by reminding folks he was once Finals MVP, and that coach Steve Kerr still pushes all the right buttons.

With Durant fretting over an MCL sprain and bone bruise that could cost him a few more weeks, vulnerability has been sensed and a clear highway to another conference title isn’t so automatic for the team that has ruled the West two years straight but hasn’t frightened anyone lately.

Yet, should that be the big concern here for Golden State? Should Kerr and company sweat the shadow of the San Antono Spurs, who are quietly pitter-pattering on the Warriors’ heels? Or even the Houston Rockets, the only team in the league who can match Golden State’s gunpowder? How much does best record in the regular season mean anyway, other than hosting a Game 7 if a playoff series comes down to that?

Well. What happens between now and mid-April, when the season ends, is one thing. What happens once Durant returns — assuming he does return — is another.

Budenholzer was tight-lipped, calling it a “coaching decision.”

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“We need to learn to play together and stay together for 48 minutes,” he said. “That’s something that’s very important to us.”

Schroder has run into other problems in his first year as a Hawks starter. After the All-Star break, he was late reporting back to the team and served a one-game suspension . Then, the very next night, he was late for the team bus and came off the bench for a game at Orlando.

Now, it looks as if he is headed for a summit with Budenholzer and Howard.

“We’ve got to figure it out, me and coach,” Schroder said. “I want to talk about it. Dwight’s got to be in there, too. Get on the same page. Then we’re going be all right.”

Warriors #35 Kevin Durant Black Fashion Stitched NBA JerseyHoward downplayed the incident and said he looks forward to smoothing things over with his teammate, but the whole affair raised more troubling questions about an eight-time All-Star center who joined Atlanta this season with a reputation for causing problems in the locker room.

“It happens during the course of the game,” he said. “It just cost us a 3. It’s something that we’ve got to make sure we nip it in the bud quick, and move on to the next play.”

Howard said disagreements are bound to pop up during the course of the season.

“Listen, we’re a team,” he said. “It’s OK if we have conversations. It’s not always conflict when you have a conversation with your coach or a team meeting. That’s what you’re supposed to do. So, by him wanting to have a meeting and talk, it’s great. It’s great for our team. It’s great for each other. We’re all open to it.”

Still, it wasn’t a good sign for a team that has struggled all season to find some consistency .

The Hawks, who were the top seed in the East just two seasons ago, are now three games out of a home-court edge in the first round of the playoffs. If they don’t turn things around soon, they could be facing a challenge from teams below them in the standings.

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The Spurs will be short-handed as well. Kawhi Leonard will miss the game after being entered in the NBA’s concussion protocol.

Kerr’s decision likely won’t sit well with fans, and maybe not the league. The topic of rest is a big one across the league, with fans clamoring to see star players and the league recently signing a $24 billion television contract that is built on showcasing the league’s biggest stars.

The Warriors contingent certainly qualifies there, but Kerr said the team has to prioritize health over a single game, even if it does come against a team that is just 1+ games behind them for the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference playoff race.

“I don’t know if it’s a statement,” Green said. “I think it’s for us to be better down the stretch. For us to get a little rest and get back in a groove. You’re more or less saying we don’t care if we win or lose this game tomorrow. I don’t think you lose a game to say screw the league. You do that for the better health of your team.”

Commissioner Adam Silver has said the league is very sensitive to players needing as much rest as possible to perform at their best and avoid injury. The league will start the regular season earlier next year so it can reduce the number of back-to-backs and stretches of four games in five nights that teams face.

But the Warriors are living in the moment right now, and this moment called for a breather.

“He’s done it before,” Curry said. “It’s obviously a different situation with San Antonio and whatnot, but we’ve had a tough schedule and he made that decision. Even if we tried to suit up tomorrow he’s not going to play us, so it is what it is.”

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Mays is the more physical player who deliver some explosive hitting to be able to defense. Bicycle head lights are for illuminating the road ahead. This Saturday’s game against San Diego State appears to be shaping up as one of the most emotional TCU football games in the world.

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Easter morning usually starts off by using a bang for most parents. Rooting for opposite teams is what puts fire in you. Before your jaw dropped any lower, let me explain. This inattention to detail has been symbolic of the franchise that’s once known for its blue-collar work ethic, but has gained a reputation of overpaying stars at glamorous positions.

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And surely in 1995 no team could compare to the size, power and speed of the Nebraska Cornhuskers. After choosing a new coach, Norman Barry, in 1925 the Cardinals earned their very first nfl tournament. Lucky for people in fantasy football, rematches often fall down to the offense. The way head coach Tom Coughlin and individuals of the Giants are reacting leads one to think the team doesn’t see Hixon’s injury as merely takes a simple fluke.

Derek Carr’s MVP buzz growing as Raiders continue to impress

Michael Crabtree stood on the sideline, looked up at the scoreboard above the north end zone and took a deep breath. The eighth-year receiver crunched the numbers: His Raiders trailed the Buffalo Bills, 24-9, with 9:01 left in the third quarter, having been manhandled by the visitors on both sides of the ball. While 54,759 fans at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum fretted over the prospect of an unexpected stumble to a fired-up underdog, Crabtree smiled and thought to himself, We’ve only just begun to fight.

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Crabtree wasn’t lying. And as the rest of the football world is starting to figure out, when you’ve got the hottest right hand in the land at your disposal, you’ve always got a puncher’s chance.

After a 15-minute, 27-second flurry in which Raiders quarterback Derek Carr buoyed his burgeoning MVP candidacy — and, more important, fueled a jaw-dropping 29-0 run that propelled Oakland to a 38-24 victory — Crabtree stood at his locker and explained the mindset of a 10-2 team that currently leads in the race for homefield advantage throughout the AFC playoffs.

“Bruh, you’ve been seeing this the whole season — we’ve been doing the same thing as we did today,” Crabtree told me, punching the air for emphasis. “When we hit a rough patch, we respond, plain and simple. When you’ve got a team like this, bruh, when you’ve got this many weapons, the sky’s the limit.”

Then Crabtree made reference to another high-profile Oakland athlete: Boxer Andre Ward, who two weeks ago fought back from a hellacious second-round knockdown to dethrone light-heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev.

“I was watching the Andre Ward fight (recently) — he was here today, too,” Crabtree said. “He got knocked down in the first part of the fight, but he just kept standing in there and came back and won. That inspired me. We’ve got the same type of drive on this team. That’s what I was thinking about when we got down today. And trust me, bruh, we didn’t flinch one time.”

At this point, the Raiders’ resilience shouldn’t be overly surprising to anyone. This was Oakland’s sixth fourth-quarter comeback of the 2016 season, a campaign which began with a dramatic road victory over the New Orleans Saints, capped by coach Jack Del Rio (aka Jack Del Huevos) making a tone-setting decision to win the game on a two-point conversion attempt.

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Now the AFC West-leading Raiders remain a game ahead of the Kansas City Chiefs — a team that handed them one of their two defeats — in advance of Thursday night’s rematch at Arrowhead Stadium. And though the 10-2 New England Patriots and defending champion Denver Broncos (8-4) will likely have plenty of influence on the race for the conference title, there are currently 53 dudes in silver and black who feel pretty good about their prospects.

After all, these aren’t your big brother’s Raiders. Last Sunday, after Carr dramatically returned from a pinkie dislocation on his throwing hand to lead Oakland to a victory over the Carolina Panthers, they clinched their first winning season since 2002, which ended with a jarring Super Bowl XXXVII defeat to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Before the Raiders roared to life, Rex Ryan spent much of Sunday flipping the bird to his fleet of doubters. Laughed about in September as a candidate to lose his job, the Bills coach unleashed his top-ranked ground game against a Raiders defense allowing an NFL-worst 6.2 yards per play. Buffalo peaked just after the break when LeSean McCoy ripped off a 54-yard burst to set up a Tyrod Taylor scoring scramble that put Buffalo up 17-9. With 212 yards on the day at a strong 7.1 yards per pop, Buffalo used the combination of McCoy (17/130) and Mike Gillislee (8/49/2) to initially confound the Raiders, who couldn’t counter Shady’s patience and zigzagging magic or Gillislee’s straight-ahead hammer drops. Oakland tightened up down the stretch, though, to force three straight punts before Defensive Player of the Year candidate Khalil Mack nipped Taylor’s arm on a fourth-quarter lob that landed in the arms of safety Nate Allen. The Raiders scored four plays later to put this tilt on ice.

Michael Crabtree has been a revelation for the Raiders, but the wideout hurt the team in the second quarter by dropping a would-be touchdown pass two plays before he was flagged for taunting, a gaffe that forced Oakland to settle for a field goal. Still, Crabtree (7/74/1) made up for it with a pretty third-quarter grab in the back of the end zone to galvanize Buffalo’s demise.

Oakland’s ground game is led by Latavius Murray (20/82/2), but sign us up for more action from Jalen Richard, the undrafted rookie who gave the Raiders life with a handful of key bursts down the stretch. Murray spun his own gold, scoring twice to become the first Raiders back with 10-plus rushing touchdowns in a season since Marcus Allen in 1990.

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Nike Raiders #81 Tim Brown Black Men's Stitched NFL Elite Pro Line Gold Collection JerseyIt’s tough to call Carr the league MVP when Alex Smith has outplayed him in two head-to-head meetings. While Smith turned the ball over after halftime, it was his big plays early that put the Chiefs in front. Kansas City won for the first time in 44 years with a negative-three turnover differential because their playmakers — from Tyreek Hill to Travis Kelce to cornerback Marcus Peters and pass rusher Justin Houston — all came up big. Unheralded cornerbacks like Terrance Mitchell and Steven Nelson played huge roles.

Oakland’s young leaders, on the other hand, came up short. Amari Cooper failed to track a long pass from Carr that could have resulted in a touchdown. Cooper told reporters that the ball moved on him at the last second. That wasn’t the only odd look from Cooper on a night when he was targeted 10 times and only wound up with five catches for 29 yards. In a season that has included so much good fortune, it felt like everything that could go wrong did go wrong for the Raiders.

“Everything about tonight was unusual, to be honest,” Carr said. “To have our defense step up for us and make plays like that and for us to go out and not execute. You know, do things that we don’t do.”

This result is hardly a death sentence for Oakland’s Super Bowl chances, but the 10-3 team relinquished control of the AFC West to the Chiefs, who hold the tiebreaker over Oakland after the season sweep. The Raiders and Chiefs both have three tricky games left, so this race has a long way to go. The defending Super Bowl champion Broncos are only one loss back and they face both teams in the coming weeks.

While the Broncos and Chiefs have plenty of playoff race experience, these are entirely new circumstances for this young Raiders squad. Carr admitted that the Raiders were “punched in the mouth” Thursday and now they have to respond.

For an organization that hasn’t sniffed the playoffs since 2002, no one said that just winning, baby was going to be easy.

NBA, video game company to launch new gaming league in 2018

Video gamers now have a chance to compete for an NBA title, in an actual NBA arena and get paid by the some of the same people who pay LeBron James and Steph Curry.

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That’s right, the “NBA 2K eLeague” is coming – the first eSports league operated by one of the four major pro sports leagues in the United States.

The NBA and Take-Two Interactive Software announced early Thursday morning that they are bringing some of the world’s best gamers together to compete while representing actual NBA teams, a competition Commissioner Adam Silver hopes will continue to expand his league’s global brand.

“The large part of my mission is to grow the game of basketball,” Silver told The Associated Press. “There’s going to be an opportunity for this first of a kind league to attract a group of gamers who might be playing some other game. Now, they can say `Maybe I couldn’t play for the Knicks with jerseys for cheap, because I didn’t have the physical prowess to compete at that level. But I do have the mental and physical prowess to compete as an egamer for the eKnicks.”‘

“NBA 2K eLeague” is scheduled to debut in 2018. The league will start with about 8-12 teams – Silver did not say which teams, but noted that eventually all 30 NBA teams will be represented. Each NBA owner is being given the opportunity to build teams at their own pace.

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“The idea sounds amazing,” said Stephon Johnson, an Atlanta native and frequent online video game player who attends Grambling State University. “Combining NBA 2K gamers with the actual the NBA would be awesome. A lot of us gamers had once dreamt of playing in the NBA.”

Gamers will be chosen through a recruiting process by NBA teams and Take-Two. They’ll go through a virtual version of a combine and be selected in a draft, which Silver says will either be televised or streamed online.

Each NBA franchise will select five gamers to represent its team.

The Thunder made short work of Portland’s first-half lead, with Westbrook tying the game at 56-56 with just over eight minutes to play in the third quarter. The game would remain close for the remainder of the third, as evidenced by 10 lead changes and eight ties, before Maurice Harkless finished the quarter with a dunk to give the Trail Blazers a 74-71 lead going into the fourth.

From there, it was the Russell Westbrook Show, with the MVP candidate scoring 19 of his game-high 42 points in the fourth, while getting just enough support from Victor Oladipo and Joffrey Lauvergne, to lift the Thunder to the six-point victory.

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Thunder #9 Serge Ibaka Black Rhythm Fashion Stitched NBA Jersey“They outplayed us in the fourth quarter, that’s the bottom line,” said Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts. “It came down to that. Oladipo hit back-to-back threes, I thought we recovered from that alright. But fourth quarter, we didn’t do the things in the fourth quarter that you have to do with basketball jerseys: come up with loose balls, execute on offense. And Westbrook played great.”

The Trail Blazers were led by Lillard, who shot 9-of-22 from the field and 4-of-9 from three to finish with 29 points to go along with seven rebounds, three assists, two blocks and a steal in 36 minutes.

CJ McCollum went 7-of-15 to finish with 19 points to go with cheap basketball jerseys and eight rebounds and an assist in 31 minutes. Mason Plumlee fouled out late in the fourth quarter with 13 points, four rebounds and three assists. Allen Crabbe scored all 10 of his points in the second quarter while adding two assists and a rebound in 29 minutes.

Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard enters the matinee eighth in the NBA with an average of 25.9 points per game to go with 5.8 assists. Backcourt mate CJ McCollum is 14th in the Association with 23.5 ppg.

On the other side, Thunder guard Russell Westbrook leads all NBA scorers with 30.8 ppg, along with 10.5 rebounds and 10.3 assists per game. Westbrook has compiled a league-leading 25 triple-doubles in 2016-17, despite recording just 20 points, six rebounds and six assists in the Thunder’s previous meeting with Portland.

Deflategate comes full circle as Patriots near another title

The seasons have a way of blending into one another in New England, the AFC Championship Game being the thread that binds the years together. These are so routine here — this was the sixth in a row for the Patriots — that getting to one is no longer considered much of an accomplishment. Those four Lombardi Trophies, after all, cast quite a shadow over everything else, even being one of the top four teams in football, moments that would be signal achievements for other teams.

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It was a few hours after another one of these games two years ago — that was a Patriots win, too, of course — that word first came about underinflated footballs and a league investigation.

The New England Patriots have never been quite the same since, stained by the suspicion of scandal, furious about an investigation and penalties they thought were unfair and unbelievable. They won the Super Bowl immediately after Deflategate first erupted, long before anybody knew much about cheap jerseys from China and the Ideal Gas Law and pressure gauges and the toll it would all take on the league and the team that was one of its model franchises. But the thread that began with an email from the Indianapolis Colts general manager in the days before that game, alerting the league to the suspicion of football tampering, is wrapped still around the Patriots and this weekend; it felt like it was tied in a neat bow.

Little more than 24 hours after Ryan Grigson, author of that fateful email, was fired by the Colts, the Patriots won another AFC Championship, beating the Pittsburgh Steelers, 36-17. They are headed to their seventh Super Bowl in the Belichick-Brady era, a remarkable accomplishment under any circumstances, but particularly staggering considering Tom Brady was suspended for the first four games of the season for what the league believes was his role in those footballs being underinflated in that other AFC Championship Game. Brady has put a mostly sunny veneer on his season since he returned — he turned a question from CBS’ Jim Nantz about his personal satisfaction after the season he had into an ode to how many people help the team perform during the season — and outwardly, there has been little to be unhappy about. The Patriots, after all, have lost just one game on Brady’s watch in the 14 games he’s played this season, and he’s thrown 33 touchdowns and four interceptions.

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We’ll assume Tom Brady plays the role of Daenerys Targaryen in this particular dragon quest.

The Patriots are 16-3 at home in the playoffs under Bill Belichick. Brady has completed 62.1 percent of his passes for 256.7 yards per game and 37 TDs to 18 INTs in those 19 contests. The Pats’ last playoff loss at Gillette Stadium came in 2012 versus the Baltimore Ravens. Overall, New England is 33-4 at home since 2013.

“They’re the best in the world, they’re the gold standard if you will, so you want to have that opportunity to go play the best. It’ll be an awesome challenge for us,” Roethlisberger said.

When asked if he is in the same standard as Brady, Big Ben replied:

“No, not yet, look at all the Super Bowls and wholesale jerseys he has.”

Brady owns four rings. Roethlisberger, two. Brady is playing in his 11th championship game — the next closest is Joe Montana with seven. Big Ben is playing in his fourth (3-1). Brady is 7-7 against Super Bowl-winning QBs in the playoffs.

A lot of ink and TV time this week will be used comparing Brady and Big Ben, but Roethlisberger noted that quarterback’s don’t go head-to-head.

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“We’re not playing tennis, we’re going out there to play a football game with 11 guys at the time,” he said.

“Very explosive,” Patriots linebacker Rob Ninkovich raved. “That’s a word I’m going to say over and over about New England Patriots jersey again.”

Nike Patriots #29 LeGarrette Blount Red Alternate Super Bowl LI Champions Men's Stitched NFL Elite JerseyWhether or not Freeman and Coleman find themselves in open prairie land with a chance to make New England’s linebackers miss will depend heavily on the offensive line winning the battle up front.

Falcons right tackle Ryan Schraeder gave his dynamic duo the highest of compliments, calling them “every lineman’s dream” because they can make the front line look good even when the play isn’t blocked right.

“It’s amazing because when they run their mentality is they’re so tough you never see those guys get knocked around,” Schraeder added. “As an offensive lineman, that pumps you up because you know that any play they can hit for a touchown.”

It’s that threat of turning a short pass into a game-altering play that will make defensive coordinator Matt Patricia think twice about devoting unbalanced coverage to NFC Championship Game hero Julio Jones. The Patriots understand they can’t short-circuit Ryan’s high-octane offense through Belichick’s legendary penchant for erasing an opponent’s greatest strength.

“They are great running backs,” Belichick gushed at Wednesday’s news conference. “They can get outside. They can run inside. They do a great job of breaking tackles. They make people miss in space. They run over guys. They run through them. They dodge them. They don’t fumble.

“They run with good toughness. They get tough yards around the goal line, short yard situations, digging out that extra yard or two for a first down. These backs are really, really good. Ryan knows how to use them. Coach Shanahan knows how to use them. … They are very hard to defend.”

As Belichick knows all too well, the NFC champion’s greatness goes beyond the consensus MVP favorite and football’s most dominant talent at wide receiver. The Falcons also bedevil defenses with a pair of top-10 running backs.

Steve Kerr calls some players’ All-Star votes a ‘mockery’

Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr and his staff will coach the Western Conference All-Stars in the 2017 NBA All-Star Game, which will be played on Sunday, Feb. 19 at 8 p.m. ET at Smoothie King Center in New Orleans. Kerr earned the honor for the second time in his three seasons as an NBA head coach, having led the Western Conference to a 163-158 victory over the Eastern Conference in the 2015 NBA All-Star Game.

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By virtue of the Houston Rockets’ 127-114 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks jersey on Jan. 23, the NBA-leading Warriors (38-7, .844) clinched the best record in the West through games played on Sunday, Feb. 5 among the 14 conference teams with a head coach eligible to participate in the 2017 All-Star Game. The San Antonio Spurs’ Gregg Popovich is ineligible for the honor because he coached the West in last year’s All-Star Game.

Kerr, the 2015-16 NBA Coach of the Year, has a career coaching record of 178-31 (.852). Under Kerr, the Warriors won the NBA championship in the 2014-15 season and set a league record with 73 regular-season victories in 2015-16.

The East All-Star coach will be determined by the best record in the conference through games played two weeks before the 2017 NBA All-Star Game.

Nearly 100 players got only one vote from either themselves or an NBA peer in the All-Star balloting, including Mo Williams — who hasn’t played a single second this season. The NBA said a total of 324 players participated in the voting process.

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Kerr was asked why he would use the word ”mockery.”

”I saw the list,” Kerr said. ”I saw all the guys who got votes. … There were 50 guys on there who had no business getting votes. Although a lot of people wrote in their buddies in the presidential vote as well. So maybe that’s just their own way of making a statement. I think if you’re going to give the players a vote, I think they should take NBA jerseys wholesale seriously.”

In past years, starters have been picked entirely by fan vote. This year, those whose All-Star hopes now hinge on the coaches’ vote include Dwyane Wade jersey, Zaza Pachulia, Joel Embiid, two-time All-Star MVP Russell Westbrook and perennial All-Star pick Carmelo Anthony. Wade, Pachulia and Embiid would have started under the old formula.

Kerr said the change to the way starters are picked this year didn’t affect the way he made his votes for reserves. He sent his vote in Sunday.

”Didn’t alter anything,” Kerr said.

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said he called a staff meeting to get input on the ballot he’ll send to the league.

”How is Russell Westbrook not in the starting lineup?” Spoelstra asked. ”I know how it’s important to players and especially guys that are giving their heart and soul and emotions into the game and should be rewarded for it. I do have to admit, in some years past, I would just give it to my assistants. Not anymore.”

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Spoelstra said he told Heat center Hassan Whiteside, another All-Star reserve hopeful, that to be picked as an All-Star backup wouldn’t be a consolation prize but rather would be a sign of respect.

The Pelicans were going to upset his champion Cavaliers 124-122 on Monday night. They would block 11 Cleveland shots, derive 26 points from backups Donatas Motiejunas (14) and Langston Galloway jersey, and withstand a spectacular 49 points from Kyrie Irving (15 of 28 from the field) and a triple-double in 44 minutes from LeBron James jersey (26 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds). And yet, for the winning coach, the context was narrow and fleeting.

Warriors #35 Kevin Durant Black/White Stitched NBA Jersey“It’s one game,’’ said Gentry. “For us its all about creating consistency. We have to do it for the next game, and the next game, and the next game. If we do it eventually, then yeah, it will become habit. But just like I didn’t put a whole lot on the Brooklyn game, I don’t put a whole lot on this game too. It was one game that we played well. We’ve got to do it a lot more consistently before we can say this is who we are.’’

The consistency of having played in these settings for 17 years has enabled James to know who he is regardless of cheap jerseys and his opposition. At age 32, the champion is intent on winning more championships.

For Terrence Jones, the isolation spin move that he executed crucially against James with 1:39 remaining is a crucial play that he will never forget.

For James, a play like that can leverage future outcomes that the rest of us may always remember. He was fully invested in this loss, and still optimistic on James jerseys. Angry and yet reasonable.

“We’re just not very good right now,’’ LeBron James was saying, before he would shower, dress and fly home to Cleveland. “`Got to be better.’’

His next road game will be in Dallas Jan. 30 in a rematch of the 2011 NBA Finals. It promises to be a big evening for the Mavericks. For James, it will be yet another Monday.

Denver Broncos and Panthers miss playoffs after Super Bowl 50

Panthers head coach Ron Rivera is just as concerned about his team’s mental health as he is their suits and ties.

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“You are concerned about that, the mental health of the team,” Rivera said less than 24 hours after a 40-7 loss to the Seahawks (via the Charlotte Observer). “We’re disappointed. Our expectations were so high. But this is the situation we’re in and there’s no turning around. We’ve got to go out and do what we’re capable of and make the best of it.”

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Rivera has had his plate full this season. The 2016 Carolina Panthers caved under massive expectations and, all the while, Rivera was having to lobby officials on Cam Newton’s behalf and find a way to organize his threadbare secondary. Whatever recipe for success the team had last year during their 15-1 run was long gone. Against all odds, they’ll be one of the teams hitting the mental reset button this offseason.

“I’m concerned about the team more than anything — the players and coaches in the locker room,” Rivera said. “I thought we had the makings of a good team. We had a good (training) camp and we all had grand expectations. I really wanted to get back to the Super Bowl jerseys wholesale. But we haven’t capitalized.”

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Rivera, though, may be one of the best weapons the team has left moving forward. The fact that five of Carolina’s eight losses came within a field goal can be attributed to the way he’s navigated a nearly impossible series of events and authentic jerseys wholesale this season. He’s one of the few coaches who voices his concern about the mental health of his players and can be believed with a relative degree of certainty.

Carolina Panthers Youth Clean Cut Long Sleeve T-ShirtThe Broncos got off to a 4-0 start this season and seemed poised to return to the playoffs despite Trevor Siemian taking over for a retired Peyton Manning jersey at quarterback. While the defense still played at a high level, the offense failed to carry its end of the bargain. Siemian was solid if not unspectacular, but the team’s lack of a running game following C.J. Anderson’s season-ending injury in Week 7 and on-going line struggles hurt them down the stretch. DeMarcus Ware also missed early season games due to injury and coach Gary Kubiak even missed one due to jerseys cheap and issues surrounding complex migraines.

After notching 15 wins last year, the Panthers were unable to get on track in 2016. Cam Newton was beaten up week after week by opposing defenses, starting with that loss to the Broncos in Week 1. The unexpected jettisoning of top cornerback Josh Norman factored into the defense’s struggles, and Carolina was unable to overcome a 1-5 start. Newton followed his MVP campaign with what has to be considered his worst season since his rookie year.

The good news for fans of both teams is they’ve still got good nucleuses to work with in hopes of returning to title contention in 2017.