Depleted Canadiens set for showdown with Capitals

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BROSSARD, Quebec — It could have been the ultimate Eastern Conference showdown.

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The Montreal Canadiens are hoping it still will sports authority jerseys be.

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When the Canadiens host the Washington Capitals at Bell Centre on Thursday (7:30 p.m. ET; CSN-DC, RDS, CITYM), it will be the first game between the two Eastern powers and a potential preview of the Eastern Conference Final.

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“That’s probably going to be our toughest challenge of the season, in my opinion anyway,” Montreal defenseman P.K. Subban Jerseys said.

Except these Canadiens are already in the midst of their toughest challenge not only of the season, but perhaps of the past three seasons.

With goaltender Carey Price Jerseys out a minimum of six weeks with a lower-body injury and forward Brendan Gallagher Jerseys gone for a minimum of five more with two fractured fingers on his left hand, the Canadiens are missing two of their best players heading into a showdown with one of the hottest teams in the NHL.

The core group on the Canadiens has never had to deal with two significant, long-term injuries like this, and the Capitals might be the best opportunity for them to prove they will be able to overcome it.

“There’s no sympathy from any teams when you’re going through injuries; everybody goes through it, and the difference is how you handle it,” Subban said. “The teams that handle going through adversity during the season well are usually the teams at the end of the season that are at the top of the standings or eventually go on to win championships or go on deep playoff runs.

“So for us, we’re looking at it as an opportunity for us to continue to get better.”

The idea that the Canadiens would be lost without Price is one his teammates have expressed frustration with this season, and one they have done a good job of proving to be false so far.

“I think guys in the room are annoyed that they keep saying it’s all Carey, Carey. Obviously, he’s the best goalie in the world, and I don’t think we have to apologize for him being on our team,” forward Devante Smith-Pelly Jerseys said. “But at the same time, we believe in the players on the ice as well and we believe that we’re one of the better teams.”

The Canadiens are 7-2-3 in the 12 games Price was not available because of his lower-body injury.

Montreal is second in the League in goals scored per game (3.42), fourth in power-play efficiency (23.9 percent), tied for fifth in shots on goal per game (30.9), tied for eighth in shots against per game (28.7) and sixth in 5-on-5 shot attempts percentage (52.22 percent), all categories that have nothing to do with who is playing in goal.

The man who will be, 25-year-old rookie Mike Condon, is trying to handle his sudden importance with a level head. But this will be his first regular-season game against the Capitals after facing them once in the preseason, and Condon admits he is eager to see Washington captain Alex Ovechkin Jerseys coming at him.

“Preseason games are different than regular-season games; it’s going to be fun to see an Alex Ovechkin Jerseys one-timer in a real game,” Condon said. “So I’m looking forward to it.”

The showdown in goal is probably what would have made this matchup so compelling if Price weren’t injured, but Condon is just as excited to face Braden Holtby as he sports authority jerseys is to see Ovechkin for the first time.

“You give the Capitals a couple of goals and they’re going to be hard to beat,” Condon said. “They have a lot of offensive firepower. We saw it in the preseason, so I got a little taste there, and Braden Holtby’s a top-10 goalie in this league. It’s going to be a challenge, but it’s going to be fun. You want to play against the best.”

In fact, all of Condon’s teammates also want to play against the best. They want to prove that losing Price and Gallagher will not derail what has been a tremendous start to the season, and that they can hold the fort long enough for them to come back without losing much ground in the Eastern Conference standings.

Since the extent of Price’s injury was announced Monday, this game will be the best opportunity for the Canadiens to do that.

“This is a great team that is playing very well,” coach Michel Therrien said. “The adversity we’re facing as a team and the character of our players shows that we want to be considered winners.

“So [Thursday] is a big opportunity for everyone.”

Outspoken cornerback Josh Norman will be NFL analyst for Fox this season

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Josh Norman Jerseys takes on all comers. And he’s not just taking the field for the Washington Redskins Jerseys Jerseys, this new team, this season. He’s adding television to his curriculum vitae.

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Per The MMQB’s Emily Kaplan, Norman will be a regular contributor on Fox’s NFL coverage. His one-year contract states he’ll have a minimum of 10 appearances this season. Most of the sessions will be done from his home in Virginia, although Norman will travel to the Fox studios during the Redskins Jerseys’ Week 9 bye in the first week of November.

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Josh Norman Jerseys (left), who has sparred with Odell Beckham Jerseys (right), will be an NFL analyst on Fox this season (AP) More

Eat your heart out, Brandon Marshall Jerseys.

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Norman watched Marshall earn two sports Emmy nominations with Showtime as an analyst on “Inside the NFL,” and the ever-competitive Redskins Jerseys cornerback told friends he wanted to double Marshall’s nominations with four.

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Oh, and Norman — one of the more outspoken and bold players in the NFL — agreed to do it without his coaches knowing about it … although they likely are aware of it by now.

“I haven’t told Coach [Jay] Gruden or [defensive coordinator Joe] Barry yet, but I’ll give them a nice shout out on TV,” Norman says. “It’s not at all going to be a distraction. If you keep your focus on you and not anybody else, you’re going to be fine. I’m going to be me on Sunday.”

The Redskins Jerseys pounced on Norman, 28, who was named the Carolina Panthers Jerseys Jerseys’ franchise player this offseason — and then summarily made a free agent when the Panthers Jerseys rescinded Norman’s tag, getting nothing in return for him.

This offseason has been a whirlwind for Norman, who refused to get into a war of words with rival Odell Beckham Jerseys of the New York Giants Jerseys Jerseys, the receiver with whom Norman sparred on the field late in the 2015 season in an ugly display. Norman won’t have to wait long to see his nemesis on the field — the Redskins Jerseys and Giants Jerseys first play in Week 3 in New York, the site of last season’s melee, and then again in Week 17 in what could be a crucial division matchup for NFC East supremacy.

Norman’s role might be a trend of more players seeking active media duty during the season. It’s a potentially slippery slope, with Fox giving a player a forum in their NFL coverage — but what happens if Norman does something this season that opens him up to criticism? Will the network treat him as any other player?

If, say, Beckham keeps up with his taunting of Norman, Fox would be wrong not to ask him about it — and could Norman resist firing back at that point?

Also, there’s the concern about whether Norman struggles to play up to his massive contract (five-year deal worth $75 million, with $50 million guaranteed) or the team gets off to a poor start. Norman would be expected to stick with his media obligations, and it would be a bad look if he asked to back out at any point before the 10th appearance.

It’s a fascinating development, and it could make for some great TV, but one that comes with some concerns.

– – – – – – –

Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at edholm@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter!

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Ride with Mike Tomlin through Virginia streets that shaped him

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HAMPTON, Va. — The full scope of Mike Tomlin’s personality won’t be found at Pittsburgh Steelers Jerseys Jerseys news conferences or on sidelines. On the job, Tomlin is unmoved by perception or circumstance, or at least that’s what the stone-cold facial expressions indicate.

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But this is Hampton, Virginia, in the summertime, and Hampton’s prodigal coaching son eats noodles out of a brown paper bag and gives everyone he sees on the streets bear hugs.

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“They think they know the coach of the Steelers Jerseys. That’s just what I do. You know?” said Mike Tomlin. “When I’m home, I’m home.” ESPN.com

Tomlin hops in the driver’s seat of a Ford Edge rental car with the bulky brown bag, the contents of which can be found only at home — “yock-a-mein,” a concoction of noodles, beef and various hot sauces.

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At first, Tomlin calls it “urban Chinese delicacy.” Then he corrects himself.

“But what it is, is project food,” he said. “You’d get a box of it when I was a kid, $2, and that’s two meals. You eat half the box, put it in the fridge, and eat the other half.”

Every July, Tomlin leaves the intensity in Pittsburgh for an absurdly hot Virginia weekend in support of the Hampton Roads Youth Foundation football camp. For an hour last week, Tomlin guided ESPN on a tour through the streets that shaped him.

As Tomlin whips through a slice of eastern Virginia, he’s addressing cameras and also his teenage son, who’s quietly along for the ride. Before crafting this distinctive career — including two Super Bowls and 92 wins in nine seasons — he lived the way most other kids he knew: raised by a single mother, minimal contact with his father, sharing one bathroom with several family members, clinging to the belief he would be “special.”

Virginia is where the “loud and brash” Tomlin comes out, brother Ed Tomlin says, because of all those years with a sharp mouth as the smaller kid at the park. Here, he’s an extension of a community before being a coach.

“They think they know the coach of the Steelers Jerseys. That’s just what I do. You know?” said Tomlin, 44, sporting black from hat to sneakers. “When I’m home, I’m home.”

‘We can ride around a little bit. I can show you guys a few things’

Tomlin openly acknowledges he doesn’t do stuff like this. But once he commits, he drives as if he’s controlling a practice, with thoughts and movements working together in scattered form. Tomlin will drive around until he sees something he likes, which usually cues an impromptu hop-out.

Each curb reveals a piece of Tomlin’s history. Over there, that stretch of blue behind the trees, that was the segregated pool.

Well, the Mallory Pool wasn’t technically segregated when Tomlin lived at his nearby grandmother’s house in the late ’70s. But in his mind it was. It was understood black kids weren’t exactly welcome. Plus, the membership prices were outrageous.

“Every day we’d walk past it and we’d see other kids swimming and playing in that pool, but it wasn’t us,” Tomlin said. “It’s funny for me to see black kids leaving this pool, it really is. … I learned how to swim in college. That’s just how it was.”

Steelers Jerseys coach Mike Tomlin lived in this home with his mother, siblings and grandmother as a child. Jeremy Fowler/ESPN.com

To break up the summer months, Tomlin’s mother, Julia, forced him to read all the classics: Huck Finn, Tom Sawyer, “Gulliver’s Travels.” His friends thought that was weird and so did Tomlin, one of the only kids he knew with an encyclopedia set.

“If you wanted to hustle my mom, hustle her on some education,” Tomlin said. “One [encyclopedia] came every month or so. Like, next month ‘S’ is coming — that’s going to be big!”

The books worked. Tomlin eventually became an honor-roll student, even if he wasn’t crazy about his mom putting the bumper sticker acknowledgment on the car — for street-cred reasons.

‘C’mon, let’s go. I have more to show you’

Tomlin’s hunger for strategy was evident at an early age. When playing spades with Ed, who’s almost four years older, Tomlin got his mom to help on the sly because she was good with numbers. Every day in the summer, the Tomlin boys got dropped off at the Peninsula Boys Club, where kids could earn “bargain bucks” for winning at foosball or basketball. Bucks equaled prizes, such as tennis balls or hot dogs. Reading books earned bucks, too. That’s how Tomlin found his loophole.

“While we were outside competing, he’d be in the air-conditioned library collecting bargain bucks,” Ed Tomlin said. “It was a win-win proposition for him.”

Playing with older kids taught Mike Tomlin how to get creative, which he’s reminded of as he pulls up to the rows of red-bricked buildings, his mom’s first apartment complex. Tomlin’s mother left her husband when Tomlin was a baby, and the family lived with grandma until they saved up enough to move out.

Tomlin wasn’t allowed to venture past the muddy playground with a rusted slide and a greenish puddle underneath the uneven swings. Mom watched intently from the window while folding laundry. Tomlin learned to launch himself over the puddle for fun, and sometimes he got clearance to play in the neighborhood game of “kill-a-man” football, using shifty moves to avoid getting clobbered.

Through a pair of aviators, Tomlin surveys the land and savors the brick that hasn’t aged, the rust that survived decades of summers without him.

“And, man, we were proud of this place. Man, it probably don’t look like much now, but at the time, it was something,” Tomlin said. “You always knew when people were short on food because they’d show up to your place at dinner time and wouldn’t leave.” He laughs. “You know what I mean? So it was a cooperative thing of families taking care of one another, a bunch of single mothers and things like that.”

‘Man, I’ve been waiting to meet you, bro’

Tomlin reminds his son he’s recognized in Hampton because he has come here all his life, not for the Steelers Jerseys cache. He received the same love while he was the defensive backs coach at the University of Cincinnati. And it’s not as if Tomlin’s the only famous football persona from the area. Hampton Roads, comprised of seven cities, including Virginia Beach, has produced serious talent, from Bruce Smith to Allen Iverson to Michael Vick Jerseys.

Still, locals recognize Tomlin’s gravitational pull. He rallies people. He’s a pillar from a football leadership standpoint.

“When he walked in a room, even as a youngster, he had a way of making you feel special,” said James “Poo” Johnson, who spent more than five decades helping run the Boys & Girls Clubs in the area. “He just has this energy to him. Now, he wants to make youngsters aware this is a community and you can uplift it.”

Growing up in Hampton, Virginia, Mike Tomlin loved visiting Philly Joe’s hoagie shop. Jeremy Fowler/ESPN.com

That energy was on display for a stop at Philly Joe’s, which apparently serves the “Best Cheese Steaks in VA.” Philly Joe was like family. Most days, Joe would give a young Tomlin a bag of food with orders to take it back to Mom.

Tomlin never met today’s Joe’s employee, who goes by Johnny Trouble. But after two minutes, Tomlin has Trouble rapping for him. Asking him if he wanted to perform for the cameras did the trick.

“Let’s hear it — you better spit,” said Tomlin, whose autographed picture rests in the corner, next to a picture of chicken wings.

Trouble grabs his microphone set in the corner and freestyles something varied but energetic. Tomlin keeps a slow head bob and an ear-to-ear smile rolling. Trouble gives him a business card.

“My dude! Much love! Y’all be easy!” Tomlin said.

‘Hey, welcome to my life’

Over at Harland Court, where red-and-white shingles and a brown towel hang from his grandma’s old house, Tomlin takes to the street as if he never left. He hugs a cousin, then debates with a neighbor about where home plate used to be in cul-de-sac baseball games.

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Tomlin spends a private moment with Grandma at the front door. She calls him “My Michael.”

“She always told me I was [special],” Tomlin later said. “She convinced me of it.” These were the influences. Often, the closest his dad got was a city center. He died of heart failure about four years ago.

Tomlin turns and faces the cameras with his grandma, then blurts out: “They wonder why I’m so secretive, ’cause they just don’t need to know me. They’ll never get to know me unless they meet you guys! You know what I’m saying?”

Once back in the car, Tomlin separates Virginia Mike and Coach Mike.

“That’s work. And I treat it as such — that’s more of my mentality than anything,” Tomlin said about his job. “I appreciate the opportunity afforded to me and I take it very seriously. That’s work. And I love it. I appreciate it and obviously I’d do it for a lot less. I just want to bring the same approach to it that I watched my parents and my grandparents bring to their work. My family members, they worked in the shipyard, that was work — steel-toe boots on a daily basis.”

Tomlin pulls up to the Hampton Convention Center, where a camp rep awaits. Trip is up. Tomlin is the key figure at the Youth Foundation’s meet-and-greet event to celebrate the year’s fundraising. The DJ plays Wiz Khalifa’s “Black and Yellow” as Tomlin takes the mic.

“You know what it is,” said Tomlin, pumping his fist to Khalifa’s chorus.

The music stops, and Tomlin starts a short but timely message.

“It’s a beautiful thing to come home and fellowship, to acknowledge the blessings bestowed upon us,” Tomlin said. “We have a lot to talk about, don’t we? In light of the recent events in our nation, we have a lot to talk about, don’t we?”

Many “yes” approvals are audible after that last line.

Halfway through the event, the autograph line gets thick.

Time to be Coach again.

And to think he left the yock in the car.

Ben McAdoo will continue to welcome Coughlin in Giants facility

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Former Giants coach Tom Coughlin is still a recurring guest at the team’s facility in East Rutherford, New Jersey and new head coach Ben McAdoo says he’s fine with it.

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“As long as Tom is around, he’s a resource and we’re going to welcome him,” McAdoo said at the NFC Coaches Breakfast Wednesday in Boca Raton. According to ESPN, McAdoo later added that he did not think Coughlin’s presence at the facility would be awkward once players started coming regularly.

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Since McAdoo would never say it and probably can’t, we’ll say it for him: It will be awkward. It will absolutely — 100 percent — be awkward. Coughlin was a player favorite whose ouster sparked more emotion from quarterback Eli Manning Jerseys than two thrilling Super Bowl victories. He commanded that building from the signs on the walls to the time on the clock, which he insisted be five minutes early.

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Coughlin helped build the house the Giants currently stay in, and he isn’t ready to retire yet.

Earlier this month, Daily News columnist Gary Myers noted that Coughlin is using the team’s facility to work out at least once or twice a week. While at the scouting combine this year, Coughlin told Bob Glauber of Newsday that he also gets an awkward feel authentic sports jerseys when he returns to the building. He has not accepted an offer from the Giants to return as a consultant as of Wednesday and is mulling several options in football.

“It’s not as comfortable, honestly, but I don’t interrupt anybody or disturb anything or disrupt anything,” he said, via Newsday, back in February. “Usually I see Ben when I’m in there, and I get a workout in and visit others in the building.”

There are myriad issues with replacing a legend and McAdoo was fully prepared for the constant comparisons to Coughlin when he took over. But its safe to say he wasn’t quite prepared for this. In the meantime, he seems to be handling a difficult situation well.

Steelers GM: Big Ben has ‘3 to 4’ prime years in tank

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The Pittsburgh Steelers Jerseys have enjoyed a decade of elite play from Ben Roethlisberger Jerseys. The team isn’t expecting the train to come to a halt any time soon.
Tracker: Players | Positions | By grade
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Mock drafts:
Brooks 4.0: Broncos land next QB
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Davis 3.0: Goff lands with Eagles
Reuter 5.0: Five-round projection

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“Ben’s a franchise quarterback,” said general manager Kevin Colbert of his 34-year-old passer, according to ESPN.com. “There are a few that have two (or more Super Bowls since 2004), but he’s one of those few. We’re very fortunate.

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“We still have, you know, we think three to four more good years in his prime. We’re excited to see what he can do in that time period and what we can do to help him be successful.”

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Roethlisberger isn’t one of those guys who can complain his team hasn’t made a push to take advantage of his prime. Even with Martavis Bryant Jerseys on the shelf with another suspension, Colbert and the Steelers have surrounded their quarterback with enough talent to make Pittsburgh one of the league’s very best offenses.

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Of course, a lot of that potential points directly back to Roethlisberger, who has never been better. Over the last two seasons, Roethlisberger has completed 67.5 percent of his passes for 8,890 yards, 8.3 yards per attempt and 53 touchdowns against just 25 interceptions.

Some concern should be paid to the beating Roethlisberger has taken over the years. He missed four games last season and it’s fair to wonder if his body will hold up deep into his thirties. The Steelers will have no problem rolling the dice to find out.

Twins’ Byung Ho Park ready to begin transition

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Byung Ho Park isn’t aiming low when it comes to which Major League pitchers he’d like to face.

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“I won’t have the chance this year, but I want to face [Clayton] Kershaw,” the recently-signed Twins slugger told reporters in his native South Korea during his farewell news conference Wednesday before he heads to the United States.

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The Twins and Dodgers aren’t scheduled to meet this season. If Park arrives in the Majors with a bang, perhaps he and Kershaw could meet in the All-Star Game in July. Twins fans, of course, would be more than happy to see them meet in the World Series.

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• Twins hope Park follows in Kang’s footsteps

At this point, however, Park is keeping his goals guarded.

“It’s a fact that MLB has the highest level of baseball players, and I do have big dreams,” Park said in Korean, his comments translated into English through Jae Woong Han. “My goal is to enjoy and have a satisfying season with the Minnesota Twins Jerseys.” Twins welcome Byung Ho Park Twins welcome Byung Ho Park to MinnesotaGo behind the scenes with Byung Ho Park at Target Field

Park, who signed a four-year, $12 million contract with the Twins a month ago, has been working to make the transition a little easier. He said he has been working on his English and can already understand a bit of the language on his own, with the hope of someday being able to speak without a translator. At the plate, he said he has changed his mechanics to be better prepared for hard-throwing pitchers, having leaned back in his stance in the past. He heard from Twins All-Star Joe Mauer Jerseys, who offered support to help him adjust.

The next step might be the chilly conditions of early spring in the upper Midwest.

“When I went there, people asked me how I feel about Minnesota weather,” Park told the Korean media, “and it was similar to Korean weather right at that time. They said it hasn’t even started. [Manager] Paul Molitor said the Twins have played well no matter how bad the weather was. I know it will be cold, but I will adjust and will prepare.”

It’ll be among the many differences Park will notice when he steps out onto Target Field for the first time in April. At least from a hitting standpoint, he sports jerseys cheap said the ballpark dimensions felt familiar.

“No other word can describe it: Beautiful,” he said. “Left and center had similar distance with Jamsil Stadium, except that the fence was a straight line rather than curved shape, which made me think that it could be slightly shorter than Jamsil. That was simply my impression. I will get to know it better once I start to hit and practice. I am excited to hit some balls at the field and show the Twins I can do what is expected of me.”

The expectations aren’t light. Park homered 105 times and drove in 270 runs over the last two years with the Nexen Heroes in the Korean Baseball Organization. He averaged 42 homers a year over his four full seasons as an everyday player.

The homer totals might not translate, but he’s hoping to hit enough to keep Korean fans tuned in to games that will be broadcast early in the morning. It also would help for his Korean nickname to carry over.

“Few people from the Twins know about my Korean nickname: Park Bang,” he said. “I don’t think that nickname is bad at all.”

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck’s Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs. Share This Email Print + Hide Comments

Familia escapes jam in 9th, Mets beat Cubs 2-1

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CHICAGO (AP) — Jeurys Familia Jerseys Jerseys lost control, but not the lead, and kept the Mets Jerseys ahead and his consecutive save streak intact.

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New York’s closer escaped a bases-loaDe Jerseysd jam with a game-ending double pLa Jerseysy after Rene Rivera Jerseys drove in the tiebreaking run with two outs in the top of the ninth, lifting New York over the Chicago Cubs Jerseys Jerseys 2-1 on Tuesday night.

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Familia Jerseys walked Addison Russell Jerseys Jerseys and Miguel Montero Jerseys Jerseys to start the ninth, then Javier Baez Jerseys Jerseys reached on a bunt single when third baseman Jose Reyes Jerseys Jerseys threw wiDe Jerseys to first. Pinch-hitter Matt Szczur Jerseys Jerseys hit a grounDe Jerseysr to first baseman James Loney Jerseys, and Loney Jerseys threw out Russell Jerseys at the pLa Jerseyste.

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Kris BRyan Jerseyst Jerseys then hit into a 5-4-3 double pLa Jerseysy to give Familia Jerseys his 33rd save in 33 chances this season and 49th straight dating to Aug. 1, 2015.

”I just always try in a situation like that, to throw my sinker down and let them make contact with a groundball and believe in myself,” Familia Jerseys said. ”I just try to believe and think I can do it.”

Familia Jerseys’s teammates kept their cool, too

”I know Familia Jerseys is going to do it,” catcher Rivera Jerseys said. ”I know he has been there before. After the first couple of batters, I went out there and gave him support.”

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Hansel Robles Jerseys (4-3) pitched two scoreless innings in relief for the win.

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Arrieta Jerseys retired 14 of the first 15 Mets Jerseys hitters, including 12 straight following Yoenis CespeDe Jerseyss Jerseys’ single in the first. He alLowe Jerseysd one run and struck out eight in seven innings, his longest outing since June 11. La Jerseysst year’s NL Cy Young Jerseys Award winner got back on track after allowing four or more earned runs in three consecutive starts for the first time since 2012.

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SynDe Jerseysrgaard gave up one unearned run on seven hits through 5 2/3 innings. He struck out eight before being repLa Jerseysced by Jerry Blevins Jerseys Jerseys after throwing 105 pitches.

SynDe Jerseysrgaard had his velocity early, reaching 100 mph in the first inning, and was able to escape jams in the first and second. He left in the fifth inning of his previous start, on July 8, with arm fatigue after allowing three runs in a loss to Washington.

”It was great to come in here and squeeze out a win against their ace,” SynDe Jerseysrgaard said. ”My arm felt really loose and fluid even La Jerseyster in the game.”

New York’s Michael Conforto Jerseys maDe Jerseys his first start, in right field, since being recalled from Triple-A La Jerseyss Vegas on Sunday and went 0 for 3. He had pinch-hit on Monday and singled.

Arrieta Jerseys doubled with two out in the fourth, then was thrown out at the pLa Jerseyste when he tried to score on Tommy La Jerseys StelLa Jerseys Jerseys’s single. At first, Arrieta Jerseys was ruled safe by umpire Eric Cooper, but he was called out following a viDe Jerseyso review.

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Mets Jerseys manager Terry Collins Jerseys is concerned about overloading Conforto too soon after his recall, so he started the 23-year-old in right field and Curtis GranDe Jerseysrson Jerseys in center on Tuesday with the wind blowing in at Wrigley Field. Conforto May Jerseys see time in center in the future, though.

Conforto got off to a nice start with the Mets Jerseys but was sent down on June 25 after a prolonged slump.

”This kid got sent out because he wasn’t hitting,” Collins Jerseys said before the game. ”He gets his swing back and comes up and the first thing that hits him in the face is to pLa Jerseysy center field. So we’re going to ease him into it.”

RIGHT ANGLE

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Both Collins Jerseys and Chicago manager Joe Maddon loaDe Jerseysd their starting lineups with lefties against two of the major’s premier right-Hand Jerseyse Jerseysd starters.

Maddon called out the split against SynDe Jerseysrgaard as ”enormously different.” Righties entered hitting .210 against him, lefties were batting .282. Against Arrieta Jerseys, righties were hitting .182, lefties were at .215.

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Mets Jerseys: The team said RHP Matt Harvey Jerseys was resting comfortably after having season-ending surgery for thoracic outlet surgery in St. Louis on Monday.

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Cubs Jerseys: All-Star 2B Ben Zobrist Jerseys Jerseys batted fourth after getting two days off. … OFs De Jerseysxter Fowler Jerseys Jerseys (right hamstring strain) and Jorge Soler Jerseys Jerseys (left hamstring strain) had the start of their rehab stints at Triple-A pushed back a day when the Iowa Cubs Jerseys were rained out. Maddon said both were close to returning, but he ”didn’t know exactly.”

UP NEXT

RHP Bartolo Colon Jerseys Jerseys (8-4, 3.11) squares off against Chicago RHP Kyle Hendricks Jerseys Jerseys (8-6, 2.41) in the series finale on Wednesday afternoon. Hendricks Jerseys alLowe Jerseysd just three hits in six shutout innings in his La Jerseysst start against Texas on Friday and has a 1.70 ERA in his La Jerseysst 11 outings.

Free agency shows what NBA is all about

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If you’ve found this free-agency period — with its fractured long-term relationships and newly formed ominous alliances — to be unsettling, maybe it’s because your concept of the NBA doesn’t fit the NBA’s concept of the NBA.

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The NBA sent out a definition of itself last week. It was at the bottom of a news release about the new, high-tech shot clock. At the end of many news releases is a paragraph called the boilerplate, a one-paragraph summary describing the team or company. Think of it as the corporate equivalent of a detailed Twitter bio. In this case the boilerplate read:

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“The NBA is a global sports and media business built around three professional sports leagues: the National Basketball Association, the Women’s National Basketball Association, and the NBA Development League. The league has established a major international presence with games and programming in 215 countries and territories in 49 languages, and NBA merchandise for sale in more than 125,000 stores in 100 countries on 6 continents. NBA rosters at the start of the 2015-16 season featured 100 international players from 37 countries and territories. NBA Digital’s assets include NBA.com and the NBA app, which achieved record traffic during the 2014-15 season, as well as NBA TV. The NBA has created one of the largest social media communities in the world, with more than one billion likes and followers globally across all league, team, and player platforms. Through NBA Cares, the league addresses important social issues by working with internationally recognized youth-serving organizations that support education, youth and family development, and health-related causes.”

Notice it didn’t read: “The NBA comprises 30 teams featuring the world’s greatest basketball players who compete through an 82-game regular season, then four rounds of a best-of-seven playoff series format to determine an annual champion.” That’s how we view the league. The NBA has moved far beyond such limited terms. This is about content, merchandising and property.

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Kevin Durant Joins Warriors

Kevin Durant has joined up with Stephen Curry and signed with the Warriors.

Undefeated: Numbers convince KD

Lowe: Shooting for stars

FiveThirtyEight: Likely won’t win 73 again

Thunder GM: Not out of the blue

5-on-5: How many titles for Warriors?

With KD, now greatest team ever?

Players react on social media

Will this help or hurt Durant’s legacy?

What next for losers in KD chase?

How Durant fits in with Warriors

Vote: Did Durant make the right decision?

Dallas benefits from KD dominoes

“A global sports and media business” with heavy internet traffic, vast social media reach and, yes, societal impact (see Adam Silver’s stance on LGBT rights in North Carolina). Given that scope, the minor details of who plays on what teams are the equivalent of those terms of agreement that you click past without reading when you download software. Brand takes precedence over ball.

“The NBA is consumed with perception and PR more than anything else now,” a team executive texted me during the playoffs. “They follow social media and articles, always taking the [temperature] on their popularity.”

When the NBA isn’t describing itself in press releases, it implicitly lets you know its priorities during collective bargaining negotiations with the players’ union. The owners know they are on a collective bargaining winning streak and are confident they’ll get what they’re after. They also realize they must make compromises to reach an agreement. So they hold the line on what matters most to them. And they care about the money a lot more than they care about competitive balance. (Repeat: global sports and media business.)

The owners went after the revenue split during the 2011 lockout and successfully drove the players’ share of leaguewide income from 57 percent down to 50 percent. They stopped short of a hard salary cap, which would have made player movement more difficult and/or forced talented teams to dismantle before they could form a dynasty. The players agreed to take less money collectively to preserve individual opportunities. That created the structural framework for Kevin Durant to join the Golden State Warriors Jerseys — and created all of the wailing that followed the move.

Saying that Magic Johnson and Larry Bird wouldn’t have made that move is pointless because Magic and Bird couldn’t have made that move until unrestricted free agency entered the NBA in 1988 — after they had won eight rings between them and had no need to leave to pursue championships. And don’t forget, the collective bargaining agreement back then was designed to facilitate stars staying with their current teams — hence the nickname “The Larry Bird Exception” for the rule that allowed teams to exceed the salary cap when one of their own players re-signed.

The rapidly rising salary cap gave Kevin Durant fewer incentives to stay in OKC. Kyle Terada/USA TODAY Sports

Changes to the CBA as well as changes in players’ attitudes brought us to the player movement we’ve seen in recent years. Increasingly shorter contract lengths, implemented so owners wouldn’t get stuck with “bad” contracts, also increased the turnover rate for stars who couldn’t be locked up long term anymore. And the maximum contracts instituted in 1999 minimized the difference between staying and leaving. Yes, there would still be a benefit to signing with the home team, but it wasn’t enough to keep Dwight Howard with the Lakers or LaMarcus Aldridge with the Trail Blazers or Durant with the Thunder.

The owners chose cost certainty over asset control. Trying to legislate parity was too elusive a goal to burn capital to chase. Near the end of the last lockout, a Western Conference owner said the proposed agreement wouldn’t help his team beat the Lakers (who were just a year removed from three straight trips to the Finals), but he was willing to sign off on it to get the season started.

Every time there’s a dramatic free-agent shakeup, it reminds us there isn’t a parity scheme the players can’t subvert because of their willingness to take less money. It’s interesting when that is or isn’t considered noble. Notice how you rarely hear praise for stars taking less money to move to a new team, only when they take less than market value to help their current team bring in new players. Part of that is due to the NBA’s success in creating such a character-driven sport — “a superhero, comic-book world,” Durant called it at his Warriors news conference. So the analysis focused more on the reflections of Durant’s moral fiber for leaving Oklahoma City to join a superior rival than the actual logistics of how the new-look Warriors would function. As much as analytics have reshaped the methods of team construction and game strategies, storylines still sell the league to the public at large. A global sports and media business.

“Notice how you never hear praise for stars taking less money to move to a new team, only when they take less than market value to help their current team bring in new players.”

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And such is the business model that at some point it puts the onus on the players to make the financial sacrifices in pursuit of victories. They do so despite the warning that the money is guaranteed, the results are not. For Dirk Nowitzki, taking hometown discounts has brought him respect but no more rings since he brought the Mavericks a championship in 2011.

Things worked out better for Tim Duncan, who went to the 2015 All-Star Game on a $10 million salary — about half the going rate for stars, and half of what he made during his peak earning years in San Antonio. He made two more trips to the NBA Finals in the late stages of his career and got another championship. He also has made almost $240 million in salary over his career. Then again, if money meant nothing to him, he would not have sued a former financial adviser for over $20 million in misplaced investments.

Money always matters. Especially when it counts against a salary cap and luxury tax. That’s why Dwyane Wade is no longer a member of the Miami Heat Jerseys, a once unfathomable concept. Neither he nor Pat Riley were willing to make the financial sacrifices to keep their union together.

The economic landscape of the league and the players’ increasing awareness of their power make the concept of the long-term, single-team career seem outdated. It makes for a nice story, but remember that Durant said comic book, not fairy tale.

Or maybe the proper tale is a cautionary one. Other teams saw what it meant for the Lakers to give Kobe Bryant both his money and the opportunity to finish his career with the Lakers. Yes, Kobe and Lakers fans got their fond farewell, with a 60-point performance in his final game followed by a mic drop at half court. But the rebuild was paused for two years — and the missed chance to hunt for bargain free agents in the retrospectively cheap summer of 2015 looks extra painful now amid the free spending of 2016. Meanwhile, the Lakers just finished with the worst record in franchise history.

Then again, the Lakers also sold more than $1 million in merchandise on Kobe’s last night.

One thing we do know about the league is that the NBA’s global sports and media business has never been better.

Patrick Kane extends point streak to 24 games

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Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane Jerseys extended his point streak to 24 games with a goal 5:43 into the third period against the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena on Thursday.

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The goal was upheld after a Nashville coach’s challenge for goalie interference. It was the only one for Chicago in a 5-1 loss.

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Kane reached 23 games with an empty-net goal against Nashville on Tuesday.

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He has 15 goals and 23 assists during the streak, which began with an empty-net goal Oct. 17 against the Columbus Blue Jackets, Chicago’s sixth game of the season.

Edmonton Oilers forward Wayne Gretzky holds the NHL record with a 51-game streak that started the 1983-84 season. Gretzky had 61 goals and 92 assists during his streak.

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“If Patrick can keep this going, good for him. It’s great for hockey,” Gretzky told “Hockey Central” on Wednesday. “And if he gets to 50, 51, I’ll be the first guy cheap sport jerseys to go to the game.”

Kane’s empty-net, third-period assist Sunday against the Winnipeg Jets extended his streak to 22 games, which broke Bobby Hull’s Blackhawks record of 21 straight established Dec. 5 to Jan. 23 during the 1971-72 season.

Kane’s first-period goal against the Los Angeles Kings on Nov. 28 gave him the record for an American-born player at 19 games. That goal broke a tie with Olczyk (Toronto Maple Leafs, 1989-90) and Phil Kessel (Boston Bruins, 2008-09).

Kane is the fifth NHL player since 1990-91 to have a point streak of at least 24 games, joining Mats Sundin (30 games, Quebec Nordiques, 1992-93); Sidney Crosby (25, Pittsburgh Penguins, 2010-11); Brett Hull (25, St. Louis Blues, 1991-92); and Gretzky (25, Edmonton Oilers, 1990-91).

The next best streak this season is nine games (Erik Karlsson Jerseys, Ottawa Senators; David Krejci Jerseys, Boston Bruins; Bobby Ryan, Senators). The next longest active streak is seven games (Jeff Carter Jerseys, Los Angeles Kings).

Kane’s streak almost ended at 17 games on Nov. 27 against the Anaheim Ducks, but he had an assist on Duncan Keith Jerseys’s goal with 27 seconds remaining in the third period of a 3-2 overtime win.

Kerr’s guiding hands at center of Warriors’ historic season

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For all that magic that Stephen Curry creates with the ball in his hands, for all the turmoil that Draymond Green creates with his hustle and his sound and his fury, for all the mismatches at both ends of the floor that are created every time that Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston come off the bench, these are Steve Kerr’s Warriors.

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As a rookie head coach, he made it look so easy, like the duck gliding across the pond while his feet paddled furiously beneath the water in leading the Warriors to their first championship in four decades. Even while missing from the bench for the first 43 games of this season to recover from back surgery, he had his guiding hands on and his presence within this team that has positively transformed the game.

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Kerr Sits Down With Howard-Cooper

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Steve Kerr sits down with Scott Howard-Cooper, live from Oracle Arena, to discuss the quest for 73 wins, playoff positioning and injury updates.

Excellence in team sports is not merely a gift, but a product of planning and execution with just the right dose of inspiration from the top and that’s why Kerr is NBA.com’s pick to be NBA Coach of the Year.

There are those that would foolishly suggest that the Warriors would have reached these lofty heights with Mark Jackson still at the controls. There are those that would naively say that Luke Walton proved over the first half of the 2015-16 season when he moved over one seat on the bench that the Warriors are like one of those self-driving cars that Google and Amazon are trying to get up and running on the highways.

The truth is that Walton’s success while the team ran out to a mind-boggling, record-breaking 24-0 and then 39-4 start is even more testament to the foundational principles that had been laid down by Kerr. As the Warriors zoomed out of the starting gate and began their pursuit of the 1996 Bulls’ all-time record of 72 wins, Walton was quite open about the fact that he kept in constant touch with Kerr, exchanging ideas, getting suggestions, at every step along the way. They spoke before and after every road games. They consulted when Kerr preferred to remain backstage at home games.

GameTime: Warriors Chase History

The GameTime crew discuss the Warriors and whether or not they believe they will catch the old Bulls record, with 73 wins.

Walton deserves credit for executing the plan and keeping the Warriors on the path to continue playing with the same joy and enthusiasm and intensity as they dealt this season with the new experience of playing with the targets on their backs as the defending champs. But it was Kerr’s plan. The same one that taught all of those individual virtuoso artists to harness their talents to create something special together.

Remember, it was Kerr who took an offense that was rated 12th-best in the NBA under Jackson, sharpened discount sports jerseys it to a razor’s edge and made it No. 2 in the league a year ago while also prodding that defense into becoming the very best in the NBA. Now the Warriors have the No. 1 offense, No. 5 defense and until the hiccup of the past week have kept their competitive edge under the intense pressure of the spotlight that just keeps getting brighter.

Kerr has been able to balance the stated desire of his players to pursue the all-time record of 73 wins against the withering effects of physical and mental fatigue that inevitably comes with such a quest.

Give all proper credit to the Warriors staff of Walton and Ron Adams and the rest for keeping the ship sailing ahead when the skipper couldn’t be standing at the helm. But he’s the one that plotted the course and never took his hand off the tiller.

When Phil Jackson led the Bulls to their record-setting season, it was the only time the Hall of Famer was named Coach of the Year. Now two decades later, with the Warriors on the doorstep of becoming only the second team ever to win at least 70 games, it is Kerr’s time.

After finishing a close second to the Hawks’ Mike Budenholzer a year ago, Kerr will have no shortage of competition for the award:

Terry Stotts, Portland Trail Blazers Jerseys: Talk about your bad summers. The Blazers coach sat and watched four-fifths of his starting lineup, 53 percent of his point total and 55 percent of his minutes played from a 51-31 in 2014-15 leave town as Portland went into rebuilding mode with the loss of LaMarcus Aldridge. But Stotts took out his hammer and went to work. After a 15-24 start, the Blazers are now 43-37 and have clinched a playoff berth.

Gregg Popovich, San Antonio Spurs Jerseys: Face it, the voters could give Popovich the award every season and there would not be much reason to complain. The three-time former winner of the award incorporated newcomers LaMarcus Aldridge and David West onto the Spurs roster on the run and merely has them sitting with a franchise record 65 wins while flying (almost) under the Warriors’ radar.

GameTime: LaMarcus Aldridge Feature

Check out this feature on the Spurs’ All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge.

Dwane Casey, Toronto Raptors Jerseys: It seems that Casey comes into every season having to prove himself all over again, and then goes out and does just that. While those back-to-back first-round playoff losses stick in the minds of so many Toronto fans, Casey has pushed his team to 52 wins, which sets a new club record for the third year in a row.

Steve Clifford, Charlotte Hornets Jerseys: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist was scratched for the season after playing just seven games. Anchor Al Jefferson missed 25 of the Hornets’ first 66 games. But since the beginning of March they rank in the top 10 in the league in offensive and defensive efficiency and Clifford has Charlotte at 45-33 and solidly in the playoffs with the potential to cause trouble.

Rick Carlisle, Dallas Mavericks Jerseys: This was a season and a team that could have imploded last July when free agent DeAndre Jordan changed his mind about moving to Dallas. But the dogged, relentless Carlisle has taken a collection of broken vintage parts with 37-year-old Dirk Nowitzki at the center of it all and kept the 40-38 Mavs in the playoff hunt from the opening week down to the very end.

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Editor’s note: As the 2015-16 season winds down, NBA.com’s writers give their picks for the various end-of-season awards.

Below is our schedule of stories:

April 5: Executive of the Year

April 7: Coach of the Year

April 8: Kia Most Improved Player

April 9: Kia Sixth Man of the Year

April 10: Kia Rookie of the Year

April 11: Kia Defensive Player of the Year

April 12: Kia MVP

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Fran Blinebury has covered the NBA since 1977. You can e-mail him here and follow him on Twitter.

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