Ginobili’s perfect night keys pivotal Spurs win over Trail Blazers

With Al-Farouq Aminu all over him in suffocate mode, Manu Ginobili peeked over his left shoulder at Rudy Gay.

This decision would zip through Ginobili’s thoughts as quickly as his next move.

“I saw Rudy wide open next to me,” Ginobili said, shaking his head. “I said, ‘No.’ I said, ‘Not this time.’ I go. I go because I was feeling really well.”

Manu Ginobili becomes the second player aged 40 or older to score 20 points in a game off the bench after scoring 21 in the Spurs’ Friday win over the Suns.

“Just get out of his way,” Gay said. “Manu finds a way to do it each and every night, even at his age. He’s a Hall of Famer, and he showed why tonight.”

Manu Ginobili made all seven of his field goal attempts the Portland Trail Blazers, including four makes in a 10-point fourth quarter. Soobum Im/USA TODAY
Portland immediately called for a timeout after Ginobili’s broke open the game for the Spurs. As Ginobili walked back toward San Antonio’s bench, point guard Dejounte Murray playfully shoved the veteran in acknowledgement of yet another miraculous feat.

Back when the Cavs beat the Knicks at the Garden in November, Kanter took a swipe at James after the game, saying, “I don’t care who you are. What do you call yourself? King, queen, princess, whatever you are. We’re going to fight. Nobody out there is going to punk us.”

After the Cavs gave up 148 points in a loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder — Kanter’s former team — in January, the Knicks center piped up on Twitter again.

“It doesn’t matter,” James said when asked about the possibility of Kanter playing. “It doesn’t matter. I didn’t think much of it. It doesn’t matter who is in the lineup for them. I’m trying to get our guys healthy, and I think we’re getting our point guards back today, so that’s what I’m excited about.”

Any interaction between the two wouldn’t take place on the court, as Kanter has been ruled out because of his back and wrist.

Cavaliers guards George Hill and Jose Calderon are both officially listed as questionable, according to the team. Rodney Hood, who tweaked his Achilles in Philadelphia, is listed as probable.

Kaepernick attended Newsome, Harbaugh depositions

Quarterback Colin Kaepernick finally arrived at the Ravens’ facility. But he wasn’t there to sign a contract. He was there to witness a stream of questions arising from the fact that he was never offered one.

“With just those players alone, we’re going to have more than enough to get going and have bona fide players who played high-level collegiate football.”

Polian also acknowledged potential talent streams like eligible Canadian Football League free agents, including those from the U.S. “who may want to come back home and play.” Another is high school or junior college standouts who were unable to advance enough academically to continue pursuing the game at a higher collegiate level. There are also those who could emerge based on measurable athletic talent in tryout camps that Polian said would be scheduled “in every big city.”

“There will be plenty of kids who have perhaps dropped out of school who didn’t make it all the way to Division I for one reason or past junior college,” he said. “There are guys that maybe play semipro football somewhere who have talent.”

Winston took note of the article and responded on Twitter by writing that he will “personally will make sure we show how valuable” Jackson is during the 2018 season. Bucs coach Dirk Koetter added himself to the list of people who need to do a better job of getting Jackson chances to show off his skills.

“DeSean was where he was supposed to be,” Koetter said. “He was either behind the defense, in between the corner and safety, or he was in position to make explosive plays, and we didn’t get the ball to him. That’s on myself, it’s on Jameis to do better. I think DeSean and Jameis have said they need to spend more time working together, and I think they’re addressing that.”

Plenty of things went wrong for the Buccaneers in 2017 and a bigger offensive role for Jackson would be a way to turn one of them around as they try for better results in 2018.

The Browns are the one team that can almost match what the Rams have done with their bold offseason moves, led by the trades for quarterback Tyrod Taylor and wide receiver Jarvis Landry. Offensively, the Browns also signed running back Carlos Hyde and right tackle Chris Hubbard. And they still have a ton of cap room going forward.

Rams:It’s hard not to love what Los Angeles has built with its aggressive offseason additions – at least for the short term.

He knows what’s expected of him and now it’s up to him. That, in turn, seemingly led to Monday’s report that Beckham won’t step foot on a football field in 2018 without the new contract he’s consistently made clear he feels he’s earned (no prizes for guessing from where this story leaked). Beckham is seeking either to be the NFL’s highest-paid player, a near-impossible goal considering Kirk Cousins just pushed the ceiling to $30 million per season, or to earn around a reported $20 million annually, a much more realistic target considering his youth, production, and the fact receiver salaries have boomed in recent years.

Kiper also said this of Allen back in February: You have to look beyond the stats, Kiper Jr. said. Stats are for losers in my opinion in a lot of ways. The kid won.

Yet the same standard does not exist in his world when it comes to Jackson, who actually had a better record during the same period of time than Allen did, from 2016-17.

The comments about accuracy not mattering are also quite interesting, because Kiper also said the following about Lamar Jackson, whom he is not high on whatsoever.

The 37-year-old previously played in New Orleans from 2013-2015. He enjoyed the best season of his career with Drew Brees in 2015, compiling 825 yards on 74 receptions with six touchdowns.

Eagles: The best team in the NFL got better, and with Carson Wentz eventually getting healthy, there’s no reason to expect a drop-off.

Texans: They looked unstoppable when Deshaun Watson was under center and healthy, and a potent defense should keep Houston poised for a deep run.

Patriots:I actually don’t feel great about this – and could see the Steelers here – but until Belichick and Brady give me a reason not to include the Pats in lists like these, I’m sticking with them.

Yesterday, Schefter mentioned during an appearance on Golic and Wingo that he wouldn’t be surprised if the Giants traded Beckham Jr before this year’s draft.

What a start! Yankees pummel Blue Jays on Giancarlo Stanton’s 2 HRs

The dreams started in December.

When the Yankees stunned baseball and traded for Giancarlo Stanton, the reigning National League MVP, manager Aaron Boone — just days into the job — immediately imagined lineup with Stanton and young stars Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez back-to-back-to-back.

Stanton also annihilated a solo shot in the ninth inning off ex-Yankee Tyler Clippard, tossing his bat to the side after it slammed into the second deck of the center-field seats.

When he returned to the dugout, Stanton was given the silent treatment.

I didn’t expect that, Stanton said with a smile. I had to get it late. But I got some air high-fives.

Stanton finished with four RBI and a run-scoring double.

Newman’s overtime heroics against Duke were part of a career-high 32-point performance. Scoring 14 points per game on the season, the sophomore guard has raised his game over the last seven outings, averaging 22.7 points on 54.2 percent shooting.

Kansas features three players shooting better than 40 percent from 3-point range: Svi Mykhailiuk (45.1 percent), Newman (41.5) and leading scorer Devonte’ Graham (40.4).

Jalen Brunson, who leads Villanova in points (19.3) and assists (4.6) per game, is shooting 53.5 percent from the floor this season.

Udoka Azubuike, who leads the Jayhawks in rebounding (7.0) and blocks (1.7) per game, easily led the nation in field-goal percentage (77.4 percent) during the regular season.

MLB 2018: Mariners’ contention window could close after this season

It’s been more than four years since Robinson Cano first put on a Seattle uniform, and more than two since Jerry Dipoto took over as general manager of the Mariners.

Dipoto was supposed to bring a radically different school of thought to the Mariners’ front office and lead the team to success. Cano, signed by predecessor Jack Zduriendcik, was supposed to spearhead a push for relevancy, backed by Felix Hernandez, Nelson Cruz and Kyle Seager.

Although the Vikings have not made any offer to Cousins yet, there’s “mutual interest,” according to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero.

The Jets can outbid the Vikings, but they’re worried that the Vikings will land Cousins anyway because he wants to play in Minnesota, per SNY’s Ralph Vacchiano.

Adam Schefter said the Vikings were one of the four finalists to land Cousins.

The Vikings don’t plan to apply the franchise tag to Case Keenum, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. Rapoport and his colleague Mike Garafolo both reported that the Vikings are expected to be in on Kirk Cousins once legal tampering begins.

No one should expect Kaepernick to get a call, though, for the same reasons (good and bad, right and wrong, true and false) that kept him out of the NFL in 2017, and for another that wasn’t a factor last offseason. Kaepernick’s collusion grievance against the league, filed in October, is still in play.

Yahoo! Sports reported last month that Kaepernick’s attorneys had requested depositions from several owners, team and league executives and even commissioner Roger Goodell’s wife, Jane. With discovery still going on, no timetable is set for when the arbitrator can hear the case.

It’s not impossible or impermissible for a team to sign or even negotiate with Kaepernick while the grievance is in play … but it’s impractical and unlikely. Kaepernick could receive damages lost salary from last season and, conceivably, this season if he wins the case.

Hopkins’ new pact came in at $49 million over three years.

The difference between the three-year money and the difference between those fifth-year options is essentially identical, but even so, it’s a surprise that Evans and his representation weren’t able to get more given the 6.1 percent rise in the salary cap over last season.

The Giants and the NFL acknowledged only that they know of their existence.

ESPN has been unable to confirm where or when the videos were filmed.

“We’re aware of the video, but we don’t have any comment beyond that,” a Giants team spokesman said via email Friday night.

The NFL, through a spokesman, also declined to comment further.

Hawkins said no receiver in the NFL plays as hard as Landry.

Thomas called the trade for Randall “fantastic” and said it would be good for Kizer to go to Green Bay.

“I really think Kizer has a future in this league, but he needs some time to learn and grow,” Thomas said. “The situation in Green Bay is going to be so much better than it is if he would’ve stayed in Cleveland. For Kizer, this is a great trade. For the Browns, it’s a great trade.”

Hawkins and Thomas both said that Shelton would be a better fit in the 3-4 defense with New England than in Gregg Williams’ 4-3 defense in Cleveland.

The Giants (3-13) badly missed their top receiver after he fractured his ankle during a Week 5 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers. They finished 31st in the NFL, averaging 15.4 points per game.

Beckham has reached the Pro Bowl and set numerous records in his first three professional seasons.

About a month ago, Thomas said the rehab for the torn triceps tendon that ended his 2016 season and his consecutive snap streak at 10,363 was going well.

In January, Thomas told WKYC-Channel 3 in Cleveland that he feels he’s still playing at a high level and he loves the game. But he has struggled with knee and shoulder issues during the past few years to the point that he only practices one day per week.

Female umpire Jen Pawol gets first taste of MLB action

Jen Pawol, one of only two women umpiring in MLB-affiliated professional baseball, was behind the plate Thursday in the Tigers’ 6-1 exhibition win over Division II Florida Southern in Lakeland, Fla., earning praise from Detroit manager Ron Gardenhire and minimal abuse from either team.

The native of New York state says she doesn’t know yet where she’ll be assigned this season, but presumably she’ll work some Grapefruit League games this spring.

“I’m the luckiest woman in the world,” she said. “I get to take the field every day with the best men the world. I am so thankful for the opportunity.”

Behind Ohtani, Tyler Skaggs is sort of a question mark, but Matt Shoemaker has a few successful seasons under his belt. After a season marred by injury in 2017, the hope for the Angels is that Shoemaker can pitch like he did in 2014 and 2016 in particular, when he kept his ERA well under 4.00. But the beauty of having Ohtani in the rotation is that the Angels will not need to lean so heavily on pitchers like Skaggs or Shoemaker.

Finally, once-in-a-generation talent Mike Trout missed a large chunk of last season thanks to a torn ligament in his left thumb, and while it’s not necessarily likely that a full year of Trout would have put the Angels in the 2017 playoffs, losing him for nearly 50 games didn’t help. Trout, at only 26, is garishly talented and was worth nearly 7 WAR in his abbreviated season last year, so having him return to the lineup almost every day in 2018 only bolsters the Angels’ case for making the playoffs.

The road to October won’t necessarily be easier for the Angels this season, but thanks to the additions of Ohtani and a few veterans, they are better equipped to traverse it.

Rodgers-Cromartie joins a slew of top-to-mid tier cornerbacks in the free agency pool.

The move comes one day after NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo reported DRC was asked by the new Giants regime to take a “significant pay cut” from his $6.5 million salary for the 2018 season. NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport added that Rodgers-Cromartie was also asked to move to safety, but the corner will instead test the open market as an outside cornerback.

Former Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman spent just one day on the market before signing an incentive-laden deal with the San Francisco 49ers . Sans Sherman, Malcolm Butler , Trumaine Johnson , Bashaud Breeland , E.J. Gaines , Brent Grimes , Morris Claiborne and Prince Amukamara lead this season’s free-agent cornerback class. Of those top talents, the 31-year-old?DRC is older than all of them but Grimes.

What does this mean for the Bills? : It wasn’t difficult to see Taylor’s departure coming. He was a candidate to be cut last spring before restructuring his contract with the team. The writing on the wall got even darker when he was benched for Peterman in Week 11 despite a 5-4 record. While Taylor would return to mark 14 starts on the season and help get the Bills to the playoffs for the first time since 1999, the franchise’s lack of faith in him meant his days in New York were numbered.

The Chargers have great edge?rushers in Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram, plus?a shutdown corner anchoring their secondary in Casey Hayward. Their 3-4 defense, however, is one speedy,?playmaking linebacker away from being truly elite. Evans?would be a huge?asset against?the pass, both in coverage and in blitz packages.

The Seahawks need to end their nightmare of duct-taping the offensive line and trying to solve problems by?moving players around. McGlinchey’s athleticism will allow him to be a rock of a right tackle for the long haul.

Sean McVay, Baker Mayfield sat next to each other on flight to Indy

Sean McVay spotted reigning Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield walking down the aisle of his flight from Los Angeles to Indianapolis on Tuesday and called him over.

Mayfield took the middle seat, just to sit next to the Los Angeles Rams’ second-year head coach, and got a little bit of advice before interviewing with and working out for an assortment of NFL teams at this year’s scouting combine.

McVay and Mayfield met during Super Bowl week in Minneapolis earlier this month. McVay, who was flying Southwest, which allows passengers to select their seats when they board, got the window with an earlier boarding group. He called Mayfield over because he said he preferred to sit with someone he knew, but he was conscious of giving him his space during the four-hour flight.

McVay called Mayfield an impressive guy, very likeable. You see why his teammates thought the way they do about him.

While Altman was involved in the meeting, he and Mike Gansey — at that point officially the head of the Cavs’ G League team — were only keeping the ship afloat on an interim basis and had yet to be formally elevated to their current roles as GM and assistant GM, respectively.

It was a lapse in judgement that is looked back at by some still within the franchise as the consequential moment that led to the trade that sent Irving to Boston and put Cleveland at a disadvantage for most of the 2017-18 season prior to Altman’s trade deadline deals.

The Falcons did the opposite, throwing into the second half a little longer than they should have after taking a [hops in car, drives to local library, visits newspaper archives, finds a copy of USA Today dated Feb. 6, 2017, reads game recap, asks librarian if this is a typo] 28-3 lead late in the third quarter.

At this point, teams should expect the Patriots to have an advantage in the fourth quarter. They are maniacally well-conditioned, and they consistently make the right corrections to render what you were doing hopelessly ineffective.

Moment of silence, uniform patches among Panthers’ tribute to Florida shooting victims

The Florida Panthers honored the victims of the shooting at Parkland’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

Luongo made 33 saves in his third game since returning from a groin injury to lead the Panthers to a 3-2 victory. Vincent Trocheck scored the winning goal with 19.1 seconds left for Florida, who celebrated his go-ahead goal by encouraging fellow players to sign his stick. He plans on donating it to the students and faculty at Marjory Stoneman Douglas..

Players from both teams stood for the ceremony, some wiping tears from their eyes.

“We had little angels helping us tonight to help us pull out a big win here,” Luongo said.

The Panthers wore decal stickers Thursday on their helmets and “MSD” patches on their sweaters. They debuted those additions during their road game at Calgary on Saturday and will continue to wear them for the rest of the season.

“They’re nice and gritty and I think we like that style of game,” Hellebuyck said. “We like to get in the mud and really work and grind teams down and I think they fit right into game role.”

Nic Petan and Patrik Laine also scored to help the Jets win for the fourth time in five games.

Jake Allen made 19 saves for the Blues. They are 0-4-1 in their last five.

“Just too many mistakes throughout 60 minutes, including myself,” Allen said. “You see the turnovers against a top team like that with tons of speed and they shoved it back down our throats pretty quick. We need to limits those and tonight it just kind of snowballed on us.”

The Jets, with 81 points, have a solid grasp of second place in the Central Division. The Blues, with 72 points, could lose their hold of the second wild-card spot in the Western Conference with a Los Angeles or Calgary win Saturday.