Clippers’ Jordan brings added defensive strength

Jay Asser 31/10/2015
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Making his mark: DeAndre Jordan.

DeAndre Jordan has been a defensive force in the early stages of the season for the Los Angeles Clippers as they’ve begun the new campaign perfect with two wins.

– NBA team-by-team guide: Western Conference
– NBA team-by-team guide: Eastern Conference
– NBA: Timberwolves honour Saunders in victory

Jordan’s scoring has been sparse, but his impact in the paint by swatting shots and grabbing rebounds has fuelled the Clippers. The centre was particularly energised in the match-up with the Dallas Mavericks on Thursday, with six points, 15 rebounds, four blocks and two assists in 26 minutes as the Clippers won 104-88.

Jordan, of course, was almost a Maverick when he agreed to terms with the franchise to end his free agency in the summer, only to later change his mind and rejoin Los Angeles as his courting turned into a spectacle.

“It’s definitely an emotional game,” Jordan said of playing against Dallas. “The emotions were high obviously because it was our home opener. We wanted to give the fans what they missed.”

The only area Jordan didn’t hurt the Mavericks in was at the free throw line, where he went just 2-of-8 as Dallas intentionally fouled him at times.

Jordan’s off-season decision has poured petrol on the rivalry flames between the two teams, with Mavericks owner Mark Cuban taking shots before the team’s first meeting of the season.

Cuban claimed he “didn’t give a s*** about the Clippers,” while adding: “Look, the Clippers are the Clippers. You can change the players, you can change the owner, but the Clippers are who they’ve been for the last 30 years.”

Although, Dallas have the 2011 championship on Los Angeles, the Clippers have finished higher in the standings the past four years.

Jordan and his team-mates will expectedly get a hostile welcome when the teams meet again in Dallas on November 11.

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NFL: Lewis gives Tom Brady and the Patriots a new weapon

Jay Asser 31/10/2015
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Major asset: Dion Lewis.

Tom Brady’s assault on the NFL this season has been helped by his arsenal of weapons in the air game, including newcomer Dion Lewis.

– NBA team-by-team guide: Western Conference
– NBA team-by-team guide: Eastern Conference
– NBA Preview: LeBron can be a kingmaker once more

The running back had 93 of Brady’s 356 passing yards in the 36-7 thrashing of AFC East foes the Miami Dolphins, all of which came in the first half on six catches.

Showing off his elusiveness, Lewis had 84 yards from catches, with a large chunk coming on his 16- yard touchdown, a 17-yard screen to pick up a first down on thirdand-16 and a 19-yard slip out of the backfield where he broke Miami linebacker Koa Misi’s ankles.

Lewis missed last week’s division clash with the New York Jets due to an abdominal injury, but looked as shifty as he had the rest of this season against the Dolphins.

“I’m just excited to be back out there,” Lewis said. “You know, missing last week, I was eager to get back out there with my guys and try and help the best way I can. Everybody was well prepared for this game coming off a short week, and we came to work.”

The Patriots left the ground work to bruiser LeGarrette Blount, who carried 17 times for 72 yards, but the 5-foot-8, 195-pound Lewis has also been an effective rusher when given the opportunity this year.

Lewis’ 220 yards on the ground make him one of just three players in the league with more than 200 yards rushing and 200 yards receiving, along with Atlanta’s Devonta Freeman and New Orleans’ Mark Ingram.

“He’s a dynamic player,” team-mate Rob Gronkowski said. “The dude is unreal with the way he can move. I don’t know if anyone else can move like that, the way he can cut. He’s great to have on the team. He’s a great guy and it’s amazing to have him out there with us.”

Lewis has filled a major role in the offence which was vacated when space-back Shane Vereen signed with the New York Giants in the offseason.

The Patriots took a chance on Lewis with a futures contract last year after the 25-year-old missed the entire 2013 season with a fractured fibula and couldn’t find his way onto a roster in 2014.

Along with 5-foot-10, 200-pound wide receiver Julian Edelman, Lewis provides Brady a safety blanket underneath, contrasting with the 6-foot-6, 265-pound Gronkowski, who leads the league with seven receiving touchdowns and ranks second with 13 grabs over 20 yards.

Now at 7-0, New England have an extended break before returning to face Washington in Week 9.

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NBA: Wolves honor coach with narrow win over Lakers

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The Minnesota Timberwolves recorded an emotional season-opening victory on Wednesday by toppling Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers 112-111, just 72 hours after losing head coach Flip Saunders to cancer.

The two league doormats from last year put on an exciting display as the Timberwolves rallied from a nine-point half-time deficit then forced Lakers guard Louis Williams to miss a potential game-winning shot at the buzzer.

Timberwolves point guard Ricky Rubio dedicated the thrilling win to Saunders, who died aged 60 on Sunday after a 17-year career that also saw him coach the Washington Wizards and Detroit Pistons.

– NBA team-by-team guide: Western Conference
– NBA team-by-team guide: Eastern Conference

– NBA Preview: LeBron can be a kingmaker once more

“It has been tough. He was everything for us and I think he really helped us today. Wherever he is, we are going to miss him,” said Rubio.

“We came here to fight because that is the way he taught us.”

The Timberwolves played with heavy hearts as they honored Saunders by unveiling new pre-game warmup shirts, followed by a moment of silence.

It ended up being a disappointing return to the court for Bryant, who played just 35 games last season after suffering a season-ending shoulder injury in January.

The five-time NBA champion scored 24 points, but more importantly he set a record for most seasons played with the same franchise the moment he stepped onto the court at Staples Center arena to begin his 20th campaign with the Lakers.

It was Bryant’s first game in a reduced role as the Lakers continue their roster overhaul by bringing in a young nucleus of players, including 19-year-old D’Angelo Russell, who was the second overall pick in the June draft. Russell finished with four points in 26 minutes of playing time.

Rubio scored 28 points and delivered 14 assists, and Kevin Martin came off the bench to score 23 for the Timberwolves, who like the Lakers missed the playoffs last season.

Elsewhere on the second day of the 2015-16 season, Chris Bosh, who was hospitalized last season due to blood clots in his lungs, made a triumphant return with a game-high 21 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Miami Heat to a 104-94 win over the Charlotte Hornets.

Russell Westbrook scored 33 points to lead Oklahoma City to a 112-106 win over the San Antonio Spurs at Chesapeake Energy Arena.

In Memphis, Kevin Love had 17 points and 13 rebounds and Richard Jefferson added 14 points to power the defending Eastern Conference champion Cleveland Cavaliers to a 106-76 victory over the Grizzlies.

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