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Golden Knights beat Jets to take 2-1 series lead

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It took an expansion team on an unprecedented jaunt through the Stanley Cup playoffs to finally cool down the Jets.

The Vegas Golden Knights did what nobody else has been able on Wednesday night, beating them 4-2 to take a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven Western Conference series.

Jonathan Marchessault scores a first-period goal during Game 3.

Ethan Miller/Getty Images

It is the first time Winnipeg has trailed this postseason, and the first consecutive losses for the team in regulation in more than three months. The series continues at T-Mobile Arena on Friday before a fifth game is played in Winnipeg on Sunday afternoon.

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Vegas is 10-3 in its first stab at the playoffs and a step closer to reaching the Stanley Cup final, which seemed like folly when a patchwork team of castoffs was put together to surround Marc-André Fleury last summer. The Jets had never reached the second round before their current run.

Earlier, they eliminated Minnesota and Nashville, the best team in the league during the regular season.

It remains to be seen if the Golden Knights can put the Jets on life support with another triumph in the Nevada desert in Game 4. The team that has gone up 2-1 in a semi-final has gone on to win 35 of 43 series since 1975.

The Jets could not have gotten off to a worse start. A turnover led to a breakaway and an easy goal by Jonathan Marchessault 35 seconds into the game.

The Golden Knights’ defence kept them so bottled up that they were held to just three shots on net in the first period. Winnipeg failed to register a shot on its lone power play, and nearly gave up a goal seconds after it expired. Jets goalie Connor Hellebuyck reached out and snatched a shot from the left wing by William Karlsson to prevent his team from going down 2-0.

Fleury put on a show early in the second. About four minutes in, he stopped a hard shot from Adam Lowry, then dived with his glove outstretched to snag a one-timer ripped from in front of the net by Dustin Byfuglien.

Mark Scheifele did what he has for the Jets all postseason, tying the game 1-1 with 14:32 remaining in the second. It was Scheifele’s 13th goal of the playoffs.

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The tie lasted 12 seconds − all it took for James Neal to deposit a puck past Hellebuyck after he failed to clear it from behind the net. Alex Tuch then took a sweet pass from behind the net from Neal to score 2½ minutes later.

At 3-1, the Golden Knights appeared to be in control heading into the final period. Then Scheifele struck for a second time just 18 seconds after the puck dropped. The Jets began putting tremendous pressure on Fleury, who faced 33 shots in the game, but he was up to the task.

With 11:55 left, he deflected a shot by Tyler Myers on a breakaway. Two minutes later, he dived and flopped and stopped two more from point-blank range. The Golden Knights crowd chanted their goalie’s name over and over. Hockey is new here, but winning catches on pretty quickly. Marchessault scored an empty-netter with seconds left to seal the victory.

Fleury bounced back after a loss in Game 1 to stop 30 of 31 shots in Game 2 and lead the Golden Knights to a 3-1 victory. He is having the best postseason of his career with a 1.68 goals-against average and a .945 save percentage entering Game 3. He is the first goalie to record four shutouts in the playoffs since 2011, when Vancouver’s Roberto Luongo and Boston’s Tim Thomas also had four.

Before the game, acrobats from Cirque du Soleil entertained spectators as they waited outside in the heat. Once the doors opened, at least one guy dressed as Elvis was in the building.

During an extravagant pregame show, a fellow dressed in armour and carrying a sword slayed an adversary waving a Jets flag and then sliced up a video projection of a giant jet displayed on the ice.

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Carnell Johnson, a singer who gives gondola tours in canals around the Venetian resort hotel, did the anthems, pausing politely so Winnipeg followers could scream “True north” during O Canada. Fans of both teams cheered as the family of Darcy Haugan, the Humboldt Broncos coach killed in last month’s horrific bus crash in Saskatchewan, were introduced.

The Golden Knights won the Pacific Division and went the entire season without suffering three losses in a row. They are one of only two teams to win more than one playoff series in their inaugural season since 1918. The St Louis Blues reached the Stanley Cup final in 1968 but played in a division that consisted of expansion teams.

“It has been a good story,” said Ben Chiarot, a Winnipeg defenceman. “It is good for the league to have a new team come in and perform the way they have.

“At first, you think it is from teams kind of taking them lightly. Around Christmas time, we played them and saw they are the real deal. They are a good team and that is why they are here.”

“They are relentless,” said Mathieu Perreault, the Jets centre. “We knew they weren’t going to fold and let us take two games at home. They battled hard and played great. That’s what we expected. Now, we have a series.”

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Mariners get Alex Colome, Denard Span in trade with Rays

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Still two months before the deadline, the Seattle Mariners struck first in the trade market in a deal with the Tampa Bay Rays, the teams announced Friday. 

The Mariners, seeking their first postseason appearance since 2001 — the longest in the majors — received reliever Alex Colome and outfielder Denard Span from the Rays for right-handed pitcher Andrew Moore and minor league pitcher Tommy Romero.

“This is a trade that makes us a more complete club in the present while also offering impact beyond this season,” said Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto in a written statement. 

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“Alex Colomé brings an all-star resume, fortifying what we believe is an already solid back end of the bullpen. Denard Span adds length to our lineup as a steady and smart player with consistent on-base skills in addition to a veteran presence that enhances our environment.”

Colome, who is 2-5 with 4.15 ERA, served as the Rays closer the past three seasons. He’s converted his last 10 save opportunities for 11 this season. 

Span, a career .288 hitter, of 11 MLB seasons, gives the Mariners an experienced left-handed bat in the lineup. He is batting .238 with 27 runs scored in 43 games. 

The Mariners, 29-20 heading into Friday night, are three games back of the Houston Astros in the AL West. The lost their leadoff hitter Dee Gordon to a fractured toe this week and All-Star second baseman Robinson Cano to an 80-game suspension. 

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Kurtenbach: Why all eyes should be on Steve Kerr ahead of Game 6

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HOUSTON — Rockets guard Paul Chris Paul — the man who effectively willed Houston to a critical Game 5 win and a 3-2 series lead behind a bevy of absurd second-half isolation shots — will not play in Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals

His status for a possible Game 7 is up in the air as well.

Some might view Paul’s injury as clearing the way for the Warriors to win back-to-back games and advance to the NBA Finals. It’s an easy viewpoint to have and it’s not entirely misplaced.

If only it were that easy.

The Warriors might cite their triumph in the 2016 Western Conference Finals — when they came back from a 3-1 deficit to beat Oklahome City — as evidence that this 3-2 hole is not as daunting as it might look (an argument that became easier to make with Friday’s news). But that was a different team under different circumstances.

Paul’s injury has not given the Warriors a reprieve. Houston needs to win only one more game in this series (with two chances to do it, one at home) and even without their star guard, the Rockets remain more than capable of fulfilling that requirement. Meanwhile, the Warriors are a team that’s having an offensive identity crisis at the worst possible time.

These next two games will be turned into a referendum for many of the Warriors and the operation as a whole, but amid that scrutiny, the man under the most pressure to perform isn’t Stephen Curry or Kevin Durant.

It’s Steve Kerr.

Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr sits on the bench while playing the Houston Rockets during the second quarter of Game 2 of the NBA Western Conference finals at Toyota Center in Houston, Texas, on Wednesday, May 16, 2018. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group) 

Kerr is an exceptional coach when it comes to managing the responsibilities and personalities that come from having an exceptionally talented team — that’s not easy to do — but his performance as a game manager over the last two games has been suspect.

We saw the Warriors run out of gas in the fourth quarter of Game 4 — bizarre rotations and poor time management playing a big role in a 12-point fourth quarter and a stunning loss the evened the series at two games apiece.

In Game 5, we saw a total shift in bench deployment — David West played nearly a full quarter and Quinn Cook was on the floor in crunch time — as well as a continuation of the Warriors’ offensive woes, which unmistakenly manifested themselves in the fourth quarter of the team’s second straight loss.

The loss of Andre Iguodala to a leg injury and the Rockets’ nothing-to-lose physicality created a tricky situation for Kerr to manage over the last two games, no doubt. But it’s hard to say that he passed either test.

His biggest challenge is righting the Warriors’ disjointed offense. That is his area of tactical expertise, after all. Golden State had one of the best offenses in NBA history this season, but over the last two contests, they’ve failed to average a point per possession. If that continues, the Warriors stand little-to-no chance to win this series.

So what did Kerr tell his team after Game 5?

“Well, there are things I tell you guys here, and there are things I tell my team that are private,” Kerr said Friday.

Fair enough.

At the same time, Kerr is clearly talking to his team through the media — pushing a message of relentless positivity amid the most trying moment this team has faced since Durant joined it in July 2016.

There is something to be said about finding the silver linings in a loss. But then there was Kerr’s approach after losing Game 5 on Thursday and falling behind 3-2 in the series. If you had not watched the game, you could have easily interpreted Kerr as saying “Yes, we’re down 3-2, but we have the Rockets right where we want them.”

We’ll see if that bold strategy pays dividends.

Golden State Warriors' head coach Steve Kerr talks with Stephen Curry (30) in the first quarter of Game 4 of the NBA Western Conference finals against the Houston Rockets at Oracle Arena in Oakland, Calif., on Tuesday, May 22, 2018.
Golden State Warriors’ head coach Steve Kerr talks with Stephen Curry (30) in the first quarter of Game 4 of the NBA Western Conference finals against the Houston Rockets at Oracle Arena in Oakland, Calif., on Tuesday, May 22, 2018. 

Regardless, the truth remains that the Warriors exhausted their margin for error in this series with Thursday’s loss. They might not feel they need any leeway — that they are on the precipice of putting everything together against a team they can no longer consider a worthy adversary with Paul sidelined at least for one game.

But the fact that the Rockets missed 30 — yes, 30 — uncontested shots (per the NBA’s tracking data) Thursday night, with James Harden missing all 10 of his uncontested attempts, and still won cannot be ignored.

The Warriors have banked on the Rockets’ offensive inefficiency in recent games, but it only takes a few extra uncontested Houston shots to fall for the Warriors’ season to end.

That is if the Golden State offense doesn’t break through.

It’s upon Kerr to find a way to mesh the Warriors’ offense, which currently looks like it’s in a battle with itself over what it wants to be. It’s a challenge that could go a long way to defining this team’s legacy and his as a coach.

In Games 4 and 5, Golden State appeared to have two diametrically opposed offenses, fighting for supremacy possession by possession. There was the Kevin Durant-is-the-fulcrum isolation game — which advanced the Warriors to these Western Conference Finals — going up against the Warriors’ traditional ball-movement attack, led by Stephen Curry.

It’s easy to propose that the Warriors go all-in on a Curry-led attack — it looked better in Game 5 — but that’s simply not possible. The Warriors need Durant and what he brings, too. He’s a perfect counter to Houston’s defense.

But Durant’s isolations have become predictable and direct to a fault. And juxtaposing that attack with the Warriors’ ball-moving sets hasn’t created a challenge for the Rockets’ defense, it’s merely created dysfunction for the Warriors.

Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant (35) is congratulated by head coach Steve Kerr, left, after their win over the Houston Rockets in Game 1 of the NBA basketball Western Conference Finals, Monday, May 14, 2018, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant (35) is congratulated by head coach Steve Kerr, left, after their win over the Houston Rockets in Game 1 of the NBA basketball Western Conference Finals, Monday, May 14, 2018, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip) 

“Last night wasn’t his best game, but I thought he still carried us at times,” Kerr said of Durant, who had zero assists in Game 5 and has only 10 in this series.

“Houston’s doing a great job defensively. They’re doing what we do. When you switch everything, it makes ball movement more difficult, and it makes player movement more difficult. That’s why you do it. That’s why they’ve built the roster they have, and that’s why we’ve built the roster we have. Everybody’s saying why aren’t you guys moving the ball? Well, it’s good defense. So we’re lucky we have Kevin, because Kevin is the ultimate answer against switching defenses. He’s had a great series.”

It’s not on the players to figure out this puzzle as they go. We’ve seen how that has gone over the last two games. Kerr was imploring Durant to trust his teammates in Game 5, but if that message resonated, it certainly didn’t manifest on the floor.

It needs to happen Saturday in Game 6.

Kerr has earned a reputation as a great coach after winning two titles in his first four years. I’m not here to debate that. I will say, though, that at least part of Kerr’s generally sterling reputation is on the line in Game 6, and, if the Warriors prevail, Game 7.

Somehow, someway, Kerr needs to find a balancing point in the Warriors offense that allows the Warriors to maintain a steady energy while also utilizing Durant’s elite one-on-one skills.

If he can’t, the Warriors will again be at the mercy of the Rockets and the presumptive NBA MVP, Harden. And this time, they just might take advantage.

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UFC star Nick Diaz is arrested after 'strangling a woman and breaking her hip' while 'coked up' in Las Vegas

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  • Nick Diaz has been arrested after a domestic abuse incident in Las Vegas 
  • The 34-year-old was charged with felony domestic battery by strangulation
  • He was reportedly aggressive toward police and his bail is set at $18,000
  • His alleged victim, a woman, was taken to hospital after the incident 

Hannah Moore For Dailymail.com

UFC Star Nick Diaz has been arrested on domestic abuse charges after allegedly strangling a woman and breaking her hip. 

Diaz, 34, was arrested by Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department after an incident on Thursday evening, MMAJunkie reported.

He has been charged with felony domestic battery by strangulation, as well as misdemeanor domestic battery.

Police were called to the home about 7.20pm local time and a source with knowledge of the case says 12 units in total were sent out. 

Diaz was reportedly hostile to the arresting officers and his bail has been set at $18,000 – the majority of which comes from his strangulation charge. The fighter must face court on Saturday morning before he can be released.

His alleged victim was taken to hospital after the incident.  

Social media personality Front Row Brian said sources at Las Vegas Police had told him the woman suffered a broken hip and Diaz had fought officers inside Clark Country Detention Center.

UFC fighter Nick Diaz was arrested on domestic violence charges in Las Vegas on Thursday

UFC fighter Nick Diaz was arrested on domestic violence charges in Las Vegas on Thursday

Pictured: Details of Nick Diaz's arrest. His bail is $18,000 and he must face court on Saturday before he can be released

Pictured: Details of Nick Diaz's arrest. His bail is $18,000 and he must face court on Saturday before he can be released

Pictured: Details of Nick Diaz’s arrest. His bail is $18,000 and he must face court on Saturday before he can be released

A representative for Diaz says the fighter is not a violent person, and would not hurt someone else even if he was provoked. 

Matt Staudt Jr said there was ‘no scenario where Nick would put his hands on anyone unless it was necessary self-defense, and then watch the f*** out’.

In a lengthy statement posted to social media, Staudt said Diaz’s alleged victim is ‘the most deranged and insane I’ve met to date’.

‘She has been obsessed with and stalked Nick for maybe two years now. Suicide attempts, calls to his family from fake numbers, thousand of calls a day – yes thousands, showing up everywhere he goes following his story,’ he wrote.

‘He changed his number to get away but Vegas is small and they crossed paths again. She left their interaction feeling some type of way yesterday and put in a fake report to get even and have him arrested which she’s threatened to do many times before as well. 

‘I can’t even fully digest this whole thing because of how insane and wrong it is.’  

But multiple sources told TMZ police were told the woman had been in an ‘on again – off again sexual relationship’ with Diaz for years, and things had blown out of proportion because of his alleged cocaine use. 

The alleged victim claimed to police she had been slammed to the ground and choked around the neck.

When police arrived, sources said she had red marks around her neck and her eyes. 

Social media personality Front Row Brian said sources at Las Vegas Police had told him the woman suffered a broken hip and Diaz had fought officers inside Clark Country Detention Center.

Diaz has not been able to comment on his own behalf, and the woman in the situation has not been identified. 

Matt Staudt Jr (left) posted a passionate defence of Diaz to social media, calling his alleged victim 'deranged and insane' 

Matt Staudt Jr (left) posted a passionate defence of Diaz to social media, calling his alleged victim 'deranged and insane' 

Matt Staudt Jr (left) posted a passionate defence of Diaz to social media, calling his alleged victim ‘deranged and insane’ 

 

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