Zay Jones arrested in L.A., charged with felony damage to property



Buffalo Bills wide receiver Zay Jones was arrested and charged with felony damage to property after an incident that involved his brother, Vikings wide receiver Cayleb Jones, on Monday night at a Los Angeles apartment building.

"We are aware of the incident involving Zay Jones," the Bills said in a statement Tuesday night. "We are still in the process of gathering more information on the matter. At this point, we will have no further comment."

Officer Luis Garcia said Zay Jones was breaking glass doors and windows when officers arrived at the apartment building. He was arrested on suspicion of felony vandalism. The 22-year-old was booked Tuesday morning, and bail was set at $20,000.

Jones is being held at USC Medical Center, authorities told ESPN. Jones has an April 11 court appearance.

TMZ posted video of the incident Tuesday. A man is heard off camera saying, "I'm going to fight for Jesus." Then Zay Jones emerges into a hallway and his brother tries to stop him. Zay Jones, naked, then runs past his brother and a scream is heard.

TMZ posted photos of shattered windows and a hallway where blood could be seen.
Zay Jones' agent, Zeke Sandhu, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The Vikings did not provide a comment when ESPN reached out.

Jones was a second-round pick of the Bills in 2017. He had 27 receptions for 316 yards and two touchdowns as a rookie.

Cayleb Jones, 25, was on the Vikings' practice squad last season and was signed to a futures contract in January.

ESPN's Courtney Cronin and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

http://www.espn.com/nfl/story/_/id/22850321/zay-jones-buffalo-bills-arrested-los-angeles-charged-felony-damage-property
Daniel Bryan cleared for WWE return after concussion-related retirement

Daniel Bryan cleared for WWE return after concussion-related retirement



Daniel Bryan celebrates at WrestleMania XXX in 2014. (Jonathan Bachman/AP Images for WWE)

That chanting of “Yes! Yes! Yes!” you may have heard likely came from WWE fans. That’s because the hugely popular Daniel Bryan was cleared Tuesday to return to the pro wrestling ring.

Bryan, 36, had announced his retirement in February 2016, pointing to a history of concussions and one particularly concerning test that caused him to think about his life outside the ring. However, the WWE announced Tuesday that Bryan was cleared by a team of well-known concussion specialists, including Robert Cantu, Javier Cardenas and Jeffrey Kutcher, as well as its own medical director.

To roars of “Yes!” at American Airlines Center in Dallas, Bryan strode to the ring Tuesday to open “SmackDown Live.” He confirmed that he would be wrestling again, and emotionally thanked his wife, WWE star Brie Bella, for supporting him during his recovery and encouraging him to “fight for your dreams.”

“If you fight for your dreams, your dreams will fight for you!” Bryan told the crowd. He went on to say that he didn’t know “when or where” he’d be in a match, but he proceeded to look up at large sign advertising WrestleMania, which will be held next month, sign as fans chanted the name of event.

“Does that sound like a good idea?” Bryan asked, eliciting more “Yes!” chants.



WWE events rang out with “Yes!” during 2013 and 2014, when Bryan became one of the company’s biggest draws and won the world heavyweight championship at WrestleMania XXX. A few weeks later, however, he underwent neck surgery that kept him out of the ring for much of the year, and a concussion in April 2015 proved too much to return from, eventually appearing to end his career.
Shortly after retiring in 2016, Bryan told ESPN’s “SportsCenter” that he had been suffering “post-concussion seizures” that he “hid for a long time.” In a subsequent appearance on ESPN, though, he said that he felt he could wrestle again.
Bryan, whose real name is Bryan Danielson, stayed active in the WWE by taking the position of general manager for “SmackDown,” at least in an on-screen capacity. Two years into that job, though, he was able to step back into the ring with happy news.


“Saying goodbye to the ring was one of the hardest moments of my life,” Bryan said on Twitter earlier Tuesday. “But thanks to the amazing people supporting me, I was able to keep fighting for my dream.”

Marcus Morris' late 3-pointer hands Thunder devastating loss

Carmelo Anthony sat at his locker, jersey off and both knees wrapped in ice, staring straight ahead at nothing in particular. He answered a phone call, talking for about a minute, before setting his phone down to do some more staring. It was almost fitting, the layout of the visitors locker room in TD Garden, with Anthony's stall separated from the rest, leaving him to sit alone with no one on his left or right.


It was a somber and shocked room, with Anthony left processing the final 20 seconds of the game -- and his two missed free throws with 8.4 seconds to go that would have sealed a seventh straight win for the Oklahoma City Thunder. Instead, Celtics forward Marcus Morris hit a 3-pointer with 1.2 seconds left, Russell Westbrook missed on a potential winner at the buzzer and Boston stole it, 100-99.
Anthony finally cracked a grin when new guy Corey Brewer walked by a whiteboard with two departure times for the team buses to the airport on it and yelped out in pleasant surprise, "There's two buses?"
With 20 seconds left Tuesday night, Anthony was on track for the proverbial game ball, after hitting back-to-back stone-cold 3s, then creating a third on an assist to Brewer with 1:53 left to put the Thunder up six. Anthony has been asked to give up more than anyone else this season, letting go of his jab-stepping isos in favor of becoming a roaming catch-and-shoot specialist. It was something he had to accept -- a word he uses often -- but a necessity for the Thunder to begin to unlock their offensive potential.
And on Tuesday, there was a payoff.
The Thunder have been rolling along, coming off maybe their top triumph of the season, a victory in Toronto on Sunday to snap the Raptors' 11-game winning streak. In Boston, it was a game of attrition against the scrappy, Kyrie Irving-less Celtics, with the team with three stars on it eventually taking over at the time it mattered. Paul George hit a 3 with 4:04 to go to put the Thunder up by two points, Anthony had his sequence and Westbrook hit some free throws with 24 seconds left. It looked like the kind of game the Thunder have worked hard to get past, the apparent in-the-bag win that they don't really show up for. They hit the on switch, made some shots and were ready to exit stage left.
"We had the game won," Anthony said. "Up two on the road, seven seconds left, having a chance to be sealed. So, the game was won."
"I try not to say, what happened? Or what should I [have done] there?" he said of his subsequent missed free throws. "At this point, it's a little too late for that. After the first one that was short, try to adjust it and shoot a little hard -- a little too hard a second time. So, it happens. I live with it. You make some. You miss some."
The focus was on Anthony, but a series of pretty straightforward events led to the collapse. Celtics forward Jayson Tatum finished a mostly uncontested layup, then Westbrook split free throws with 16.8 seconds to go to make it a five-point game. Celtics guard Terry Rozier hit a very open but also very deep 3. Then Anthony inexplicably missed twice at the line. It set up what, at that point, felt like the inevitable.
It really was just a matter of who was going to hit the game-winning 3 for the Celtics. Al Horford seemed like the most likely candidate, but after a scramble, the ball settled in Morris' hands on the right wing. A quick pump fake to clear one defender, then a launch over the outstretched hand of Steven Adams, and it was all net.

"It's just a tough loss -- down the stretch, letting it slip away," George said. "But we're fine where we're at. This is a game that we understand we've just got to close it out. But we're fine. This is a team that plays well at home. ... They did a good job. ... We're fine. We're fine. We had this game and let it slip away."
It's the season in a nutshell for the Thunder: Two steps forward and one step back, with the responsibility of it all hanging almost exclusively on themselves. Even more than the free throw failures, OKC missed a heap of opportunities to extend its lead. The swings for the Thunder can be drastic from night to night -- from an effortless 132 points going up in Toronto on Sunday to what happened in Boston on Tuesday -- but that's the nature of featuring an offense with inconsistently efficient players.

It's something the Thunder thought they were past, taking a game for granted against an apparently inferior opponent. The Thunder already are in a precarious spot in the jammed Western Conference, but should they slip to an unfavorable seed, or even possibly all the way out, it's going to be entirely because of games like this. They have more "should've-wons" on the schedule than just about anybody.
Before finally taking his place in front of the whiteboard, Anthony disappeared in a back room for a few moments. With the mood in the locker room considerably lightened, as Brewer sat and joked with teammates, while Westbrook and George cracked up after watching a video of something on George's phone, Westbrook campaigned for Anthony to be let off the hook from his media responsibilities for the night.
Anthony shrugged it off, stepped up and took the responsibility.
"Usually, this game would have been iced," Anthony said. "Making those free throws, walking out of here with a big road victory, especially here in Boston, where it's always tough to win a game. It's easy to beat yourself up about it, but it happens. I'm pretty sure I'll beat myself up about it tonight. And tomorrow is a new day. You don't even need to kind of harp on it or let it linger. It happened. I had an opportunity to make two free throws. I missed them. I'm pretty sure I'll get that opportunity again."

Source: http://www.espn.com/nba/story/_/id/22850162/nba-short-handed-boston-celtics-steal-win-oklahoma-city-thunder

Williamson to appeal time penalty


Queenstown jet-boat driver Regan Williamson was averaging over 200kmh at times over the weekend but it was still not enough to win the Otago Rivers race.

Williamson is intending to appeal a time penalty imposed on him which he believes cost him victory over the weekend.

The race was won by John Derry, of Blenheim, by 15sec from Williamson.

Williamson was looking in control for most of the weekend but in the second-last leg on the Matukituki River on Sunday he received a 1min time penalty.

Williamson was adjudged to have crossed the starting line too early.

The race started on the Clutha River on Friday and then switched to the Dart River at the end of Lake Wakatipu on Saturday.

The final legs of the race took place on the Matukituki River.

Williamson said it was a disappointing way to lose what had been an enjoyable weekend.

The high-powered boat he built last year had performed well and, on one leg on the Dart River, he had an average speed of 203kmh, which was seriously quick.

Derry had kept in touch but the time penalty had given him a real advantage as there was only one leg left after Williamson had his penalty imposed.

Williamson said yesterday he was unhappy and intended to file a protest.

He said the video evidence was inconclusive.

Drivers have a 10sec warning to get their boats up to speed before they cross the start line and Williamson had a dispute with how long the starting flag was up.

It was believed he was over the start line by about five boat-lengths, or about a second, Williamson said.

Williamson will put his case forward and then await the outcome.

Conditions over the weekend were great for jetboating.

The Dart River was a little discoloured while the Matukituki River was in fine condition.

The first leg - a lapped circuit from the Balclutha Bridge up river - was called off on Friday because of high winds but the weather cleared up after that.

NRL may announce two Immortals in 2018: Greenberg

The NRL has announced up to two players could be crowned Immortals and six retirees will be added to a newly revamped hall of fame this year.
Less than a month after revealing a ninth Immortal would be introduced this year, NRL boss Todd Greenberg on Monday added the likelihood of a 10th.

Greenberg's announcement opens the door for a pair of new rugby league Immortals.
Greenberg's announcement opens the door for a pair of new rugby league Immortals.
Photo: AAP
Almost a year after buying the intellectual property rights to the concept from the defunct Rugby League Week magazine, the NRL unveiled its new framework around the honour.
"We made it pretty clear last year about the acquisition of Rugby League Week and bringing the Immortals under our Australian Rugby League Commission umbrella," Greenberg said.
"Today's a really important announcement. There are some really big things coming this year in 2018. No doubt it'll create enormous debate, but really pleased by that."

Up to two players can be made Immortals every four years, with all players now being looked at since the game's foundation in 1908.
Previously, only players after 1946 had been considered, meaning the likes of Dally Messenger and Dave Brown are now eligible, and expected to be strongly considered alongside Mal Meninga, Norm Provan, and Darren Lockyer.
Last man: Andrew Johns was the last player to be named an immortal, in 2012.
Last man: Andrew Johns was the last player to be named an immortal, in 2012.
Photo: Tim Clayton
Five players will be nominated this year, with the final decision to be announced in August, when six players will also be added to the hall of fame out of a list of 25 released next month.
The catalogue of the game's greatest 100 players published by the NRL in its centenary year in 2008 automatically form the basis of the hall of fame.
"We thought August leading into the finals series where there's a level of anticipation at the back end of the season would work really well," Greenberg said.
"You could imagine the excitement levels around August as we start to debate the final parts of who will enter as a new Immortal for the first time since 2012."
Players must be retired for at least five years before considered for the hall of fame, which is also a key criteria to reach Immortal status.
No Immortal has been announced since Andrew Johns became the eighth in 2012.
AAP
Messenger and Brown enter the Immortals race

Messenger and Brown enter the Immortals race

Dally Messenger or Darren Lockyer? Dave Brown or Mal Meninga? And what about Norm Provan?

Those are questions which are set to be debated until the next Immortals are inducted at the end of the Telstra Premiership season after the NRL introduced new initiatives to acknowledge the 110-year history of the game.

For the first time since the establishment of the Immortals concept in 1981, players from the pre-World War II era will be considered - meaning the feats of Messenger and Brown will be compared to those of Lockyer, Meninga, Provan and another 93 players inducted in the NRL Hall of Fame.

However, if a player is among the five Immortals nominations this year but gets overlooked, he can be shortlisted for another two cycles before being removed from future consideration.

The Immortals re-launch and the new awards structure has occurred after the NRL acquired ownership of Rugby League Week following the closure of the magazine last year.

With the game also taking control of the Dally M awards there are now three tiers of recognition for the achievements of the game’s greatest players:
  • Dally M Medal, for a season of excellence;
  • NRL Hall of Fame, acknowledging excellence across a career; and
  • Immortals, recognising players who transcend generations.
NRL Awards Manager Frank Puletua has spent more than 12 months establishing a process and rules that ensure the game's history will be celebrated more regularly and with greater integrity than in the past.

From this season, up to two Immortals will be selected every four years and those players will be nominated from the Hall of Fame, which is set to have six additions in July to the 100 players inducted during the game's centenary celebrations in 1908.

Eight of those players – Clive Churchill, Bob Fulton, Reg Gasnier, John Raper (all 1981), Graeme Langlands, Wally Lewis (both 1999), Arthur Beetson (2003) and Andrew Johns (2012) – have already been given Immortals status, leaving 92 eligible for consideration this year.

In addition, a further six players will be inducted to the Hall of Fame from a short list of 25 to be announced next month, representing the six seasons from 2008 to 2013 in which players are now eligible as they must be retired for five years before being considered.

To be chosen as an Immortal is the greatest honour a player can receive and it is widely considered that to earn the accolade he needs to have changed the game or had an impact beyond his career.
Current superstars such as Johnathan Thurston and Cameron Smith cannot be considered until 2026 as they will not be eligible for Hall of Fame inclusion before the next cycle of Immortals voting in 2022.

After this year, up to four players will be inducted in the NRL Hall of Fame each season, while there are also new sub-categories for coaches, referees and contributors, such as administrators, commentators and journalists.

The awards cycle leading into the next Immortals Year in 2022 also includes Hall of Fame inductions for contributors in 2019, referees and coaches in 2020, and contributors again in 2021.

Among those likely to come under consideration as contributors are former administrators JJ Giltinan, Jersey Flegg, SG Ball, Victor Trumper, Ken Arthurson and John Quayle.

Others include former commentator Frank Hyde and John O'Grady, whose photo of Provan and Arthur Summons after the 1963 grand final, known as The Gladiators, was the model for the NRL Premiership trophy.

A screening committee will choose the five players to be considered as Immortals and a voting panel will select up to two new Immortals each four years.
Mal Meninga playing for Australia in 1982.
Mal Meninga playing for Australia in 1982. ©NRL Photos
Players who make the shortlist of five but are not chosen as Immortals can be considered again in a further two Immortals Years before no longer being ineligible.

The most difficult task with comparing players of different eras is that no one on the selection panel is old enough to have seen the likes of Messenger or Brown play but it was felt that to fully recognise the game’s history they need to be considered.

Messenger’s greatness is already acknowledged by the naming of the Dally M awards in his honour, and his defection from rugby union is considered vital to the success of the code.

Nicknamed “The Master”, Messenger went on the New Zealand All Golds tour of Britain in 1907 as a guest player and returned to be the star of the inaugural NSWRL competition the following season and until his retirement in 1913 after leading Eastern Suburbs to a third premiership.

Source: https://www.nrl.com/news/2018/03/19/dally-messenger-and-dave-brown-to-vye-for-immortal-status-with-darren-lockyer-mal-meninga-and-norm-provan/

South Africa looking to put Rabada episode behind them



South Africa's squad reconvened under clear blue skies in Cape Town on Monday (March 19), but one of their number was missing. Training was scheduled for 2pm at Newlands, but fast bowler Kagiso Rabada was still tied up in a marathon appeal hearing, which is set to decide his fate for the remainder of the series.



South Africa's players may have dispersed last Tuesday after an impressive win over Australia in Port Elizabeth, but Rabada's case has hung over the mid-series break. His appeal began at 9.30am on Monday, and did not conclude until 3.15pm.

For almost six hours, Rabada's case was put to judicial commissioner Michael Heron via a video call to New Zealand. In question is whether his shoulder contact with Steve Smith, which attracted a level two charge and three demerit points, was both deliberate and inappropriate. At stake is his involvement in the final two Tests.

For anyone with a focus on the actual cricket, it seems like a long time to debate a single moment that took place when the ball was dead and in which no injury occurred. A verdict will be delivered by Heron and the ICC within 48 hours of the hearing's conclusion, and South Africa are looking forward to moving on with the game.

"We haven't even spoken about it since we got together today. We're trying to isolate ourselves from that situation," Dean Elgar said ahead of South Africa's training session. "As players we don't have influence over what has happened in the hearing or what could happen. But it would be nice to put it behind us.

"There's been so much noise and I think people have actually forgotten that there's such a great series happening between two extremely strong and competitive teams. Whether 'KG' is playing in the third test or not, it's out of our hands. Hopefully we can put this behind us and carry on playing cricket."
As hard as South Africa are trying to practice non-attachment as they refocus their minds on the task ahead, there is no escaping what they stand to lose if Rabada's ban stands. The 22-year-old was the standout bowler in Port Elizabeth, taking an incredible 11 wickets as he put the off-field drama to one side.

"Having him in the side is massive for us. It's massive for the game. It's massive for the format. Because 'KG' is an extremely special cricketer," said Elgar. "We know there are rules that are implemented for certain instances and we as cricketers respect that. If he's good to go for the third Test it would be awesome for us and for the game."

Should Rabada's appeal fail, South Africa will need a new pace spearhead. Morne Morkel and Chris Morris will compete for his place in the playing XI, but in truth the home side already have a replacement attack leader in their side.

The lack of seam movement at St George's Park reduced Vernon Philander to a containing bowler - a role he fulfilled with aplomb as he went at 2.25 runs per over and picked up two key wickets in the first innings. But Philander's record at Newlands is sensational - in eight Tests on his home ground, the seamer has 47 wickets at an average of 16.34. None, of course, are quite so famous as the 5 for 15 he picked up on debut when Australia were bowled out for 47.

Elgar put this down to the home crowd support that Philander enjoys - he grew up in Ravensmead, one of the tougher suburbs of Cape Town, and has played all his cricket in the city. That support might come in handy this week, with Australia signalling that they are likely to give Philander a tough time over a tweet that the South African insists was posted by a hacker.

The tweet, which was quickly deleted, suggested that Smith was "just as guilty" for the shoulder contact as Rabada, and accused the Australian captain of "trying football skills to get a penalty". "If our banter is anything like it has gone this series I'm sure it will be brought up at some stage (of the Newlands Test) to get under someone's nerves," Cameron Bancroft said on Monday. Not that South Africa are worrying.

"I think he'll take it in his stride, like 'Vern' does," said Elgar. "He's quite a relaxed human being, but on the field he's as competitive as anyone else. He's got a set of skills that helps us out as a team and knowing Vernon I'm sure he'll take it in his stride. I'm sure he's going to expect that they're going to come out and say something to him on the field. I'm sure he's pretty prepared for that."
© Cricbuzz

Raptors' DeRozan is done keeping his mouth shut


Get past the emotion of the event and this was not what any Raptors fan wants to see in any end-of-game situation once the playoffs begin.

Kyle Lowry left the game with 3:18 to go after picking up his disqualifying sixth foul on a moving screen. Fred VanVleet did not dress for the game because of a bruised hand that was in a soft protective glove over the game so he wasn’t in it to begin with.

This one might have gone off the rails with those two still on the court, but without them, all hell broke loose.

DeMar DeRozan, who was having issues with Corey Brewer all afternoon, got a tech when an obvious foul on a layup went uncalled with 30.9 seconds left. Had he made the basket the game would have been tied.


Instead, the ball was rebounded, went the other way and ended in a Russell Westbrook pull-up jumper to put the Thunder up by four.

Then the technical was issued.


Following a timeout, DeRozan stalked the official who made the call , with any number of his teammates trying to stay between him and the official before DeRozan uttered one of those magic words to earn technical No. 2 and a seat an early end to his afternoon.

Minutes later Serge Ibaka joined DeRozan on the ejection list , we’re assuming for something he said and then coach Dwane Casey made it a trifecta of Raptors to get the heave.

It was not the finest moment by an officiating crew — Marc Davis, Haywoode Workman and Brent Barnacky for those scoring at home — nor was it for the Raptors who lost composure in a game that was well within their grasp.

But frustration is a tough animal to keep caged and once out of the cage DeRozan wasn’t willing to close it.

This was about respect and whether the Raptors set out to make a statement about a perceived lack of respect by officials and by extension the league itself, or whether it just happened naturally, there was a message being sent.

DeRozan, who was already paying for his ejection, will likely be digging into his pocket a little more following his post-game comments that included a re-assertion of what he thought of the non-call — it was deliberate attempt to keep him from a layup — a definite assertion that something needs to be done about the level of officiating and finally an assertion that the Raptors have for a long time been getting the short end of he stick in this regard.

“No, we’re used to going against the odds every step of the way,” DeRozan said. “It’s been like that. We fight through it, but as soon as we say something, we’re the bad guys, we get fined, we get criticized. Every single night when we play we fight against all the odds. We still prevail, but we’ve all got a breaking point and it’s frustrating. You seen it tonight.”
DeRozan has clearly had enough and rather than bite his tongue one more time and avoid punishment for the league he was going to let it all come out.
And now it has.

THE GAME

Sadly this was a stunningly entertaining game for the first 45 minutes but will only be remembered for the final three minutes and change.

The 132-125 win by the Thunder snapped a franchise-tying 11-game winning streak.

Lost in the frustration and angst felt towards the officiating crew was a 15-point, eight-assist night by Delon Wright who played his second consecutive game of 30 minutes or more and looked right at home.

Wright even spent time on Russell Westbrook and while Westbrook still got his millionth or so triple double, just the experience of defending one of if not the most electrifying players in the game will serve him well in future contests.

CJ Miles had perhaps the dunk of his career going baseline and then putting one-time Raptor Patrick Patterson on a poster with an emphatic dunk.

Then just the sheer toughness of Steven Adams who returned from a driving Ibaka knee to his nether region and still finished the game with 25 points, eight rebounds including five offensive boards and three assists.

Plenty of moments in the game like those, but we’re left talking and writing about technicals and ejections, rather than basketball.

MORE LOVE FOR RAPS’ BENCH

Thunder coach Billy Donovan isn’t an easy man to impress, but he is thoroughly impressed and has the utmost respect for the way Toronto’s bench mob plays the game.

“We played them in December and they were great then,” Donovan began. “They have great motors. They play with great energy and enthusiasm.”

And then he got to the part of the bench makeup that most impresses him.

“They play with no agenda and I respect that as a coach,” he said. “They play to make the right play. I think when they are out there they are just trying to make the best play whether it’s at the offensive end or defensive end of the floor. They don’t care who scores. They don’t care who shoots. They are just trying to do the right thing and play their role and they do it together.”

It’s not surprising opposing coaches and most certainly their own coaching staff loves this group. They are everything coaches hope to instil in a unit.

“I think they have probably come to realize that they function better when they play together rather than when they play as individuals,” Donovan suggested. “That can be said for any team. But I respect what they bring to their team because when they do come in it brings a different sense of energy and urgency. Not to say the first unit doesn’t do that, but there’s just a difference for them when they come in. They know what they have to do what he team needs.”

You hear this sort of thing from opposing coaches just about every game these days.

QUICK HITS

 What started out as a very good night for Ibaka deteriorated rather quickly from a shooting standpoint. Ibaka hit his first two shots of the night against his old team and then missed the next nine to finish with seven points and a team-worst minus-23 on the night … VanVleet’s bruised hand is not considered serious according to Casey … In the game Toronto’s bench outscored Oklahoma City’s bench 57-23. The OKC starters outscored Toronto’s starting five 109-68.

Source: http://torontosun.com/sports/basketball/nba/toronto-raptors/raptors-derozan-is-done-keeping-his-mouth-shut

LeBron takes over in 'closing time,' scores last nine points for Cavs


DENVER -- Following a 113-108 win over the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday night in which he scored seven of his game-high 39 points on three dagger jumpers in the final minute, four-time MVP and three-time NBA champion LeBron James made a bold proclamation about his level of play in his 15th season.
"Probably an all-time high," James told ESPN's Cassidy Hubbarth during a walk-off interview after the game. "Just because of my body, my mind, the way I go out and approach the game. And then, just the grace of God, giving me the ability to do this. I'm blessed, and I never take it for granted."
Since returning to the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2014, James' combined points, rebounds and assists per game have gone up every season. That total is at 44.4 for James this season, which would be the fourth highest of his career and the most since the 2009-10 season, when he was 25 years old, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.
James finished Wednesday's game shooting 15-for-25 from the field (5-for-8 from 3-point territory) with 10 assists and 8 rebounds. It was the fourth game of his career with 39-plus points, 8-plus rebounds and 10-plus assists while making five or more 3-pointers. He scored 13 of the Cavs' final 15 points in the first half and their final nine in the second half.
"He wanted it," Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said of James' late-game execution. "The ball was in his hands. ... Down the stretch we wanted to put it in Bron's hands and run pick-and-roll."
James has been on a roll since the Cavs changed their season with a dramatic roster overhaul at the trade deadline. In 10 games playing with his new teammates, James is averaging 30 points, 9.8 assists and 9.7 rebounds per game and the Cavs are 6-4.
Wednesday's win was the Cavs' second straight and a good start to their six-game road trip.
"It was closing time for us, and I just had to try to make some plays to try to win the ballgame," James said. "I was able to shake free a little bit. I had a little bit of air space on them shots. Just been trusting my mechanics, trusting what I've put into the game and I was able to knock them down."
James, 33, is fourth in the league in points per game, second in the league in assists per game, 17th in rebounds and 21st in steals. He has also played in all 64 of the Cavs' games this season.
When told of James' "all-time high" comment, Lue said, "Yeah, he's definitely playing well, and tonight we had to ride him a little bit more than we wanted to. But down the stretch, we needed him to make plays, he had the ball in his hands and he did that, so he is playing at a high level. I didn't know until today that he's second in the NBA in assists. I didn't even know that. So he's passing the ball, sharing the basketball, having 10 assists again tonight and he could have had 18-19, but we missed some open shots. So he has to continue to keep doing that for us."
The win put Cleveland up a 1½ games on Washington for the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference standings with 18 games left to play. However, showing some of the same confidence he did when rating his game, James said he isn't paying attention to seeding.
"Listen, it doesn't matter to me if I'm a 6-seed or a 3-seed or a 2-seed, 8-seed," James said. "If I come into your building for a Game 1, I can be very challenging."
The next building James and the Cavs will step into is Staples Center in Los Angeles. The Cavs play the LA Clippers on Friday and the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday.
Another sign that James' game has no sign of dropping off are the set of billboards erected in L.A. paid for by a Lakers fan, clamoring for him to come play for the purple and gold. Similar billboards were put up in Cleveland, paid for by a 76ers fan in an effort to woo him to Philadelphia.
"That's crazy, that's so crazy," Jordan Clarkson said. "That's like a thing now, isn't it? I wonder who's next."
Clarkson, who was traded from the Lakers to the Cavs last month, said the thought of James joining the Lakers was already a talking point in the team's inner sanctum this season.
"I wouldn't say like management and the coaches or nobody, but in the locker room people talk when they see what's going on on the internet, and they talk," Clarkson said. "That's probably the only thing. People talk in the locker room, that was it."
There is sure to be plenty of more talk about James around the league after the performance he put on late against Denver.
"It was ridiculous," Larry Nance Jr. said. "Those are shots that, like, as a defender, you just turn around to your coach and go, 'I'm sorry, I don't know what you want from me.' But no, it was incredible."
Source: http://www.espn.com/nba/story/_/id/22684982/lebron-james-cleveland-cavaliers-says-level-play-probably-all-high

Man United's Paul Pogba slammed by Gary Neville: Football 'like a joke to him'


Gary Neville has criticised Paul Pogba for performing as if "everything he does is like a YouTube or Instagram video" during the first half of Manchester United's come-from-behind win at Crystal Palace.
The United midfielder gave the ball away with a long attempted pass before Andros Townsend gave Palace a 1-0 half-time lead at Selhurst Park.
Palace made it 2-0 through Patrick van Aanholt early in the second half but the visitors rallied through goals from Chris Smalling and Romelu Lukaku before Nemanja Matic's stoppage-time stunner earned them all three points.
That had looked highly unlikely during a poor first 45 minutes and Pogba's display drew the ire of former United defender Neville.
"His great weakness is that he plays like he's playing in the park with his mates," said Neville during the half-time analysis on Sky Sports.
"It's like everything he does is like a YouTube or Instagram video. It's like it's not serious, it's like a joke to him in terms of the way he goes about things.
"It's no wonder Jose Mourinho has left him out for the past few weeks a number of times."
Neville was also critical of the lack of chemistry between Pogba's teammates.
"I've never seen a Jose Mourinho team as inefficient as this," he said. "They're always efficient teams, they always do things really calmly, they are usually solid in defence.
"He won't recognise, I don't recognise this as a performance. They are just individuals. They play in moments, they are not a unit yet.
"They've got to come together quickly because they've got to finish the season strongly but, most importantly, how are they going to get to a level that competes next season with Manchester City? They are nowhere near that level out there."
Source: http://www.espn.com/soccer/manchester-united/story/3408268/manchester-uniteds-paul-pogba-slammed-by-gary-neville-football-like-a-joke-to-him