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NFL Preseason Blitz: Now we know why the Bills fell in love with Josh Allen's arm

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<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="The Buffalo Bills wanted to show off Josh Allen’s arm right away.” data-reactid=”16″>The Buffalo Bills wanted to show off Josh Allen’s arm right away.

On Allen’s first NFL preseason pass he faked to the running back, stood in the pocket and fired a pass deep downfield. He was standing at about his own 18-yard line when he released it. And the pass just kept going and going and going until it hit receiver Robert Foster roughly at the 22-yard line on the other side of the field, about 60 yards in the air. Alas, Foster stepped out of bounds as he caught it, so it was incomplete.

It doesn’t even matter; it was a big-league throw. It looked effortless, too.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="That wasn’t even Allen’s longest throw in a 28-23 loss to the Carolina Panthers.” data-reactid=”19″>That wasn’t even Allen’s longest throw in a 28-23 loss to the Carolina Panthers.

In the fourth quarter, on third-and-22 Allen stood at his 30 and threw deep to Foster again. Foster was 60 yards downfield … and Allen overthrew him. The pass went about 64 yards in the air, landing at the 6-yard line incomplete. Later on, Allen rolled left to the numbers, spun back right and flung it deep to the opposite hashmark, and it traveled about 58 yards in the air.

The show wasn’t over. In the two-minute drill at the end of the game, Allen was fading backward and threw a dart more than 35 yards downfield for a completion. He finished the drive with another great, bullet pass for a touchdown.

Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen (17) made some impressive throws in his preseason debut. (AP)

There was plenty to debate before the draft about Allen, and we still don’t know the answers. He was inaccurate in college and that often doesn’t improve in the pros. But this much is undeniable: It’s fun watching him throw it deep.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Allen had other shorter throws that showed off his velocity. In the fourth quarter he threw a pass over the middle to Ray-Ray McCloud that seemed like it had smoke coming off it. The camera on the TV broadcast barely kept up it was thrown so hard, and it resulted in a first down.” data-reactid=”45″>Allen had other shorter throws that showed off his velocity. In the fourth quarter he threw a pass over the middle to Ray-Ray McCloud that seemed like it had smoke coming off it. The camera on the TV broadcast barely kept up it was thrown so hard, and it resulted in a first down.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="[Yahoo Fantasy Football leagues are open: Sign up now for free]” data-reactid=”46″>[Yahoo Fantasy Football leagues are open: Sign up now for free]

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Everyone who paid attention knows that Allen has an all-world arm. Another positive on Allen is his size, and he showed Thursday he can take a hit. On one of Allen’s better plays in his NFL preseason debut, he stood in against a blitzing linebacker and took a big shot to the chest, but still got the pass out to Jason Croom for 22 yards. He stayed on his feet, too.” data-reactid=”47″>Everyone who paid attention knows that Allen has an all-world arm. Another positive on Allen is his size, and he showed Thursday he can take a hit. On one of Allen’s better plays in his NFL preseason debut, he stood in against a blitzing linebacker and took a big shot to the chest, but still got the pass out to Jason Croom for 22 yards. He stayed on his feet, too.

Allen is also a good athlete, and on third-and-long in the fourth quarter he spun out of the pocket and ran for a first down. When he ran, he mostly looked natural and athletic.

Allen had his rookie moments, as expected. On a fourth down in the third quarter he was under immediate pressure, tried to get away and slipped, then wildly flipped a pass over his head. He was lucky it wasn’t intercepted. He’ll have to learn to not take reckless chances like that in the future, even on fourth down.

It’s unclear if any of the five first-round quarterbacks will start in Week 1. Even though Allen is raw, he might have a chance because the competition ahead of him isn’t too scary. It’s not like it was a surprise, but we could immediately see the physical gifts Allen brings to the Bills, and why he was the seventh pick of the draft.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="The Jacksonville Jaguars have a great defense and we’re not sure yet about their offense. It’s just one drive in a preseason opener, but the starting offense looked good in a 24-20 loss to the New Orleans Saints.” data-reactid=”62″>The Jacksonville Jaguars have a great defense and we’re not sure yet about their offense. It’s just one drive in a preseason opener, but the starting offense looked good in a 24-20 loss to the New Orleans Saints.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="From Leonard Fournette showing great burst on an 8-yard run to start the game – Fournette has dropped weight, and looked good in the preseason opener – to Blake Bortles running in a touchdown off a play fake, the Jaguars looked smooth.” data-reactid=”63″>From Leonard Fournette showing great burst on an 8-yard run to start the game – Fournette has dropped weight, and looked good in the preseason opener – to Blake Bortles running in a touchdown off a play fake, the Jaguars looked smooth.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Bortles almost blew the drive with a pass into the end zone that should have been picked off by cornerback Patrick Robinson, but he rebounded well. He made a nice throw under pressure to Dede Westbrook over the middle to get the Jaguars inside the 10-yard line. From there he finished the drive with his touchdown run. The drive took 15 plays and seven minutes.” data-reactid=”64″>Bortles almost blew the drive with a pass into the end zone that should have been picked off by cornerback Patrick Robinson, but he rebounded well. He made a nice throw under pressure to Dede Westbrook over the middle to get the Jaguars inside the 10-yard line. From there he finished the drive with his touchdown run. The drive took 15 plays and seven minutes.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="The defense, which played its starters (the Saints used mostly starters on offense but quarterback Drew Brees did not play), gave up a long drive to the Saints, but let’s assume that side of the ball will be fine. The defense held New Orleans to a 45-yard field goal.” data-reactid=”69″>The defense, which played its starters (the Saints used mostly starters on offense but quarterback Drew Brees did not play), gave up a long drive to the Saints, but let’s assume that side of the ball will be fine. The defense held New Orleans to a 45-yard field goal.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="The Jaguars came so close to making the Super Bowl last season, and they come back this year with a strong roster. The offense is the question mark, but Fournette looked quick, Bortles made some plays and Westbrook is one of many intriguing receivers (he had three caches in the first quarter, as did free-agent addition Donte Moncrief). Maybe the offense won’t be such a question mark.” data-reactid=”70″>The Jaguars came so close to making the Super Bowl last season, and they come back this year with a strong roster. The offense is the question mark, but Fournette looked quick, Bortles made some plays and Westbrook is one of many intriguing receivers (he had three caches in the first quarter, as did free-agent addition Donte Moncrief). Maybe the offense won’t be such a question mark.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="One concerning thing about both of Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson’s first two games is that he has taken a lot of hits. Jackson has looked to run often, and he has been hit hard in the open field. Most college defenders couldn’t touch him, so that’s something he’ll need to get used to.” data-reactid=”86″>One concerning thing about both of Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson’s first two games is that he has taken a lot of hits. Jackson has looked to run often, and he has been hit hard in the open field. Most college defenders couldn’t touch him, so that’s something he’ll need to get used to.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Jackson’s second game, a 33-7 win over the Los Angeles Rams, had some good moments. A running touchdown, in which he took a broken play, made some nice moves to get in the open field and another move to get in the end zone, was exactly what the Ravens were looking for when he was their second first-round pick. Passing-wise, Jackson missed his share of throws – a 36-yard pass to Chris Moore was underthrown but Moore made a great play to adjust to it and make a catch. Jackson got credit for a lot of yards on a screen pass near the end of the first half – but he also had a nice quick flip off a read-option play to Janarion Grant, which Grant turned into a 26-yard gain.” data-reactid=”87″>Jackson’s second game, a 33-7 win over the Los Angeles Rams, had some good moments. A running touchdown, in which he took a broken play, made some nice moves to get in the open field and another move to get in the end zone, was exactly what the Ravens were looking for when he was their second first-round pick. Passing-wise, Jackson missed his share of throws – a 36-yard pass to Chris Moore was underthrown but Moore made a great play to adjust to it and make a catch. Jackson got credit for a lot of yards on a screen pass near the end of the first half – but he also had a nice quick flip off a read-option play to Janarion Grant, which Grant turned into a 26-yard gain.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Jackson completed just seven of 18 passes but had 119 yards. He added 21 yards rushing. Jackson didn’t look comfortable as a passer in the Hall of Fame game last week and didn’t again on Thursday, but he has the rest of the preseason to work on it.” data-reactid=”88″>Jackson completed just seven of 18 passes but had 119 yards. He added 21 yards rushing. Jackson didn’t look comfortable as a passer in the Hall of Fame game last week and didn’t again on Thursday, but he has the rest of the preseason to work on it.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Cleveland Browns 20, New York Giants 10: Rookies Baker Mayfield and Saquon Barkley stole the show (Barkley had a great run to start his NFL career, and Mayfield was impressive) but second-year tight end David Njoku made a statement too. Njoku, a first-round pick last season, caught two touchdowns. That’s a great start for his sophomore season. Rookie Antonio Callaway, whose off-field issues have been well documented, impressed too with 87 yards and a long touchdown from Mayfield.” data-reactid=”104″>Cleveland Browns 20, New York Giants 10: Rookies Baker Mayfield and Saquon Barkley stole the show (Barkley had a great run to start his NFL career, and Mayfield was impressive) but second-year tight end David Njoku made a statement too. Njoku, a first-round pick last season, caught two touchdowns. That’s a great start for his sophomore season. Rookie Antonio Callaway, whose off-field issues have been well documented, impressed too with 87 yards and a long touchdown from Mayfield.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Cincinnati Bengals 30, Chicago Bears 27: The good for the Bengals receivers: A.J. Green looked like his usual self with a couple catches for 48 yards, and Tyler Boyd caught a 3-yard touchdown on a slant near the goal line. The bad? John Ross, who did nothing as a top-10 pick last year, fell down on a route and Andy Dalton’s pass to him was picked off by cornerback Kyle Fuller and returned for a touchdown.” data-reactid=”109″>Cincinnati Bengals 30, Chicago Bears 27: The good for the Bengals receivers: A.J. Green looked like his usual self with a couple catches for 48 yards, and Tyler Boyd caught a 3-yard touchdown on a slant near the goal line. The bad? John Ross, who did nothing as a top-10 pick last year, fell down on a route and Andy Dalton’s pass to him was picked off by cornerback Kyle Fuller and returned for a touchdown.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Pittsburgh Steelers 31, Philadelphia Eagles 14: JuJu Smith-Schuster had a nice start to his second season. The 2017 rookie sensation ran deep, positioned himself well and high-pointed a catch over cornerback Rasul Douglas, then ran the rest of the way for a 71-yard touchdown.” data-reactid=”114″>Pittsburgh Steelers 31, Philadelphia Eagles 14: JuJu Smith-Schuster had a nice start to his second season. The 2017 rookie sensation ran deep, positioned himself well and high-pointed a catch over cornerback Rasul Douglas, then ran the rest of the way for a 71-yard touchdown.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Tampa Bay Buccaneers 26, Miami Dolphins 24: Bucs rookie running back Ronald Jones had an up-and-down night. The second-round pick, who played behind Peyton Barber, dropped a pass on his first play. His struggles in the passing game, particularly in protection, has been a story through Bucs camp.” data-reactid=”119″>Tampa Bay Buccaneers 26, Miami Dolphins 24: Bucs rookie running back Ronald Jones had an up-and-down night. The second-round pick, who played behind Peyton Barber, dropped a pass on his first play. His struggles in the passing game, particularly in protection, has been a story through Bucs camp.

But Jones showed off nice moves on a short touchdown, cutting upfield to get in the end zone. Barber had a 4-yard touchdown too and worked as the clear starter on Thursday night.

Jones has enticing talent. He had just 9 yards on eight carries, while Barber had 21 on four carries. It’s a battle to watch through the preseason.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="New England Patriots 26, Washington Redskins 17: Redskins running back Derrius Guice showed off his immense talent and gave everyone a scare on the same play.” data-reactid=”126″>New England Patriots 26, Washington Redskins 17: Redskins running back Derrius Guice showed off his immense talent and gave everyone a scare on the same play.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="On a handoff to the right, Guice made a hard cutback and got into the open field. He spun off a defender, initiated contact with another and finished with a 34-yard run. It was a fine run that showed off his burst, vision and power. However, he grabbed at his knee after being brought down and had Redskins fans nervous for a few moments. It didn’t appear serious, and he told J.P. Finlay of NBC Sports Washington everything was fine after the game.” data-reactid=”127″>On a handoff to the right, Guice made a hard cutback and got into the open field. He spun off a defender, initiated contact with another and finished with a 34-yard run. It was a fine run that showed off his burst, vision and power. However, he grabbed at his knee after being brought down and had Redskins fans nervous for a few moments. It didn’t appear serious, and he told J.P. Finlay of NBC Sports Washington everything was fine after the game.

Redskins coach Jay Gruden told the media Guice will have an MRI on Friday to make sure.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Green Bay Packers 31, Tennessee Titans 17: Davante Adams looked like he was in midseason form. Adams put a great move on new Titans cornerback Malcolm Butler and blew past him. Brett Hundley hit Adams for a 48-yard pass inside the 10-yard line. Then Jamaal Williams – who has a great chance to take control of the Packers’ starting running back job with Aaron Jones suspended two games to start the season – had a catch and made an inside move to get in the end zone for a touchdown.” data-reactid=”133″>Green Bay Packers 31, Tennessee Titans 17: Davante Adams looked like he was in midseason form. Adams put a great move on new Titans cornerback Malcolm Butler and blew past him. Brett Hundley hit Adams for a 48-yard pass inside the 10-yard line. Then Jamaal Williams – who has a great chance to take control of the Packers’ starting running back job with Aaron Jones suspended two games to start the season – had a catch and made an inside move to get in the end zone for a touchdown.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Houston Texans 17, Kansas City Chiefs 10: Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson was back. If you blinked, you missed it. On the Texans’ first drive, Watson threw a quick 4-yard out to Bruce Ellington. That play call ensured there was no way he’d be hit. The rest of the series was handoffs, then Watson was pulled for Brandon Weeden. It wasn’t much, but it was good to see Watson back on the field for the first time since he tore his ACL.” data-reactid=”138″>Houston Texans 17, Kansas City Chiefs 10: Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson was back. If you blinked, you missed it. On the Texans’ first drive, Watson threw a quick 4-yard out to Bruce Ellington. That play call ensured there was no way he’d be hit. The rest of the series was handoffs, then Watson was pulled for Brandon Weeden. It wasn’t much, but it was good to see Watson back on the field for the first time since he tore his ACL.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="San Francisco 49ers 24, Dallas Cowboys 21: The biggest question with the Cowboys is their pass-catching options in a post-Dez Bryant and Jason Witten world. The first look was pretty good. Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott delivered a beautiful 30-yard touchdown pass to third-round pick Michael Gallup on Prescott’s only drive. Gallup could end up being a big contributor right away because Prescott needs someone to throw to.” data-reactid=”143″>San Francisco 49ers 24, Dallas Cowboys 21: The biggest question with the Cowboys is their pass-catching options in a post-Dez Bryant and Jason Witten world. The first look was pretty good. Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott delivered a beautiful 30-yard touchdown pass to third-round pick Michael Gallup on Prescott’s only drive. Gallup could end up being a big contributor right away because Prescott needs someone to throw to.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Indianapolis Colts 19, Seattle Seahawks 17: While all eyes were on Andrew Luck in his first game back after missing last season, Russell Wilson put on a show as usual. On his one possession, Wilson completed four of five passes for 43 yards. He threw a touchdown to Nick Vannett, who has a great opportunity to replace Jimmy Graham as Seattle’s pass-catching tight end.” data-reactid=”148″>Indianapolis Colts 19, Seattle Seahawks 17: While all eyes were on Andrew Luck in his first game back after missing last season, Russell Wilson put on a show as usual. On his one possession, Wilson completed four of five passes for 43 yards. He threw a touchdown to Nick Vannett, who has a great opportunity to replace Jimmy Graham as Seattle’s pass-catching tight end.

• Bengals running back Joe Mixon, who looked sluggish as a rookie last year, dropped weight and looked great on a nice 24-yard touchdown. He made one Bears defender miss on a juke, had a great spin move to shake off another, kept his balance and got into the end zone for a 24-yard score. It was the kind of play that made him such an intriguing (yet controversial) prospect in last year’s draft.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="• Buffalo Bills receiver Kelvin Benjamin got his revenge, albeit in a preseason game. On the Bills’ first drive against the Panthers, the team that traded Benjamin last season, Benjamin had four catches and a touchdown. Before the game he had a confrontation with Cam Newton, who he ripped last week, and he seemed a little too excited to make plays during a preseason game. But he looked good, which is positive news for a Bills offense that needs playmakers.” data-reactid=”169″>• Buffalo Bills receiver Kelvin Benjamin got his revenge, albeit in a preseason game. On the Bills’ first drive against the Panthers, the team that traded Benjamin last season, Benjamin had four catches and a touchdown. Before the game he had a confrontation with Cam Newton, who he ripped last week, and he seemed a little too excited to make plays during a preseason game. But he looked good, which is positive news for a Bills offense that needs playmakers.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="• This wasn’t really the Patriots’ offense, not without Tom Brady (who sat because of a sore back according to Jim McBride of the Boston Globe) , Rob Gronkowski and some other stars. Still, it was odd to see New England struggling to move the ball. Behind Brian Hoyer, the Patriots had just 100 yards, four first downs and a late second-quarter field goal in the first half. Unlike the past couple years, when Jimmy Garoppolo would come in and dazzle during the preseason, we were reminded the Patriots don’t have an iron-clad insurance policy behind Brady anymore.” data-reactid=”174″>• This wasn’t really the Patriots’ offense, not without Tom Brady (who sat because of a sore back according to Jim McBride of the Boston Globe) , Rob Gronkowski and some other stars. Still, it was odd to see New England struggling to move the ball. Behind Brian Hoyer, the Patriots had just 100 yards, four first downs and a late second-quarter field goal in the first half. Unlike the past couple years, when Jimmy Garoppolo would come in and dazzle during the preseason, we were reminded the Patriots don’t have an iron-clad insurance policy behind Brady anymore.

• Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes will be one of the most-watched players of this NFL preseason, and he made some nice throws. On his first pass, he stood in as the rush crashed down on him and delivered nice 14-yard strike to Travis Kelce. Mahomes didn’t air it out too often, but had some good short throws. He also showed some indecision on a sack and had an apparent miscommunication on a badly missed pass to Kelce. He finished 5-of-7 for 33 yards. There’s still plenty to work on before the regular season starts.

• The Tennessee Titans should look a lot different with new coach Mike Vrabel and new offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur. The first brief look at the Titans’ starters was pretty good, as Marcus Mariota went 2-of-3 for 42 yards and a touchdown on his only drive. Mariota also had a 7-yard run.

• The Philadelphia Eagles traded up to move one spot ahead of the Dallas Cowboys in the second round of this year’s draft to take tight end Dallas Goedert. Goedert looked very good on Thursday night. He caught four passes for 66 yards and a touchdown. While Zach Ertz is still the starter, Goedert could have a nice rookie season in the second tight end role vacated by Trey Burton, who signed with the Bears in the offseason.

• Panthers first-round pick D.J. Moore, who has been getting a lot of positive buzz in camp, had a nice preseason debut. On one impressive play, he put a great move on a defender to get 16 yards and a first down. Moore had 75 yards on four catches and should be a nice target for Cam Newton for many years.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="– – – – – – –” data-reactid=”191″>– – – – – – –

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Frank Schwab is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdown.corner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!
Follow @YahooSchwab” data-reactid=”192″>Frank Schwab is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdown.corner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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Harden scores 27 as Rockets rout Warriors

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HOUSTON — James Harden scored 27 points and the Houston Rockets routed the Golden State Warriors 107-86 on Thursday night in a rematch of last season’s Western Conference finals.

The Rockets (7-7), who announced before the game that they were “parting ways” with 10-time All-Star Carmelo Anthony, have won three straight and six of their last eight games after starting 1-5 to reach .500 for the first time since they were 1-1.

The Warriors, who were without Stephen Curry for the fourth straight game, have lost two of their last three. Curry has already been ruled out for Golden State’s next two games because of a groin injury.

Houston had a 13-point lead at the end of the third and opened the fourth quarter with a 12-2 run to make it 88-65 and spur Golden State coach Steve Kerr to call a timeout. The Warriors had two shots blocked and committed two loose ball fouls in that span to help Houston pad the lead. The Rockets got 3-pointers from James Ennis and Isaiah Hartenstein to cap the run.

The Rockets then scored the first nine points after the timeout, with six from Ennis, to make it 97-65 midway through the quarter and put the game out of reach. Both teams cleared their benches a couple of minutes after that.

Kevin Durant had 20 points for the Warriors on a night they were just 4 of 18 on 3-pointers.

Draymond Green had five rebounds and five assists in his return after serving a one-game team-imposed suspension for a dustup with Durant in Monday night’s overtime loss to the Clippers. Green addressed the situation for the first time after shootaround but did not apologize for his actions in the heated exchange.

He said he and Durant had spoken and that they were “moving forward.”

“I think there’s no secret that I am an emotional player,” he said. “I wear my emotions on my sleeve. I play with that same emotion. Sometimes they get the best of me. And (if) it doesn’t work to my favour I’m going to live with that.”

While the Warriors dealt with the drama between Green and Durant, the Rockets were left to answer questions about the decision to move on from Anthony.

Anthony played just 10 games for the Rockets after signing a one-year, $2.4 million deal during the off-season.

“In the summer we tried to hit a home run and it didn’t work out,” coach Mike D’Antoni said. “He tried everything he could. He was great while he was here. It just didn’t work out for whatever reason. I just thank him for his professionalism. It was good. He tried everything he could to make it work and it just didn’t work out.”

The Rockets led by six at halftime and opened the third quarter with a 7-2 run to stretch the lead to 54-43.

Harden scored five straight points to make it 63-47 after his 3-pointer with about 5 1/2 minutes left in the quarter.

Golden State got going on offence after that, using an 8-2 spurt to get within 65-55 a couple of minutes later.

Gary Clark ended the run with a 3-pointer, and two more 3s by him within a minute of each other late in the third extended the lead to 76-59. It was 76-63 headed to the fourth.

TIP-INS

Warriors: Curry was with the Warriors on the trip but it’s unclear when he’ll return. “We’re going to be very, very careful, and obviously he’s going to need plenty of court time before he returns,” coach Steve Kerr said. “When I say court time, I mean live action. He hasn’t had that.”… Kevon Looney scored a season-high 12 points.

Rockets: Gerald Green returned after missing the last two games with a sprained ankle. … Ennis finished with 19 points and Eric Gordon had 17 off the bench. … Houston made 16 of 47 3-pointers.

UP NEXT

Warriors: Visit Dallas on Saturday night.

Rockets: Host Sacramento on Saturday night.

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Bell: Nenshi whines sour grapes over Olympic loss

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Poor, poor Nenshi.

But we knew it all along.

Only a matter of time. Just the way the mayor rolls.

Yes, on Thursday, we get the next act.

Nenshi whines.

That’s what happens when a city kisses its mayor’s butt, treats him as a rockstar who can do no wrong but then his appeal wears thin and they turn against him and his pet project.

And Nenshi loses the Olympic vote.

Now we hear the complaining. Now we see the finger pointing. It’s someone else’s fault. None of this is on Nenshi.

Nenshi says both the provincial and federal governments “dithered.”

They are accountable for the Olympic loss.

He goes after the province.

“If you’re the province and you’re making a $700-million commitment for something, own it,” says Nenshi, admitting he’s not happy.

“Talk about why it’s a good thing instead of writing a press release in the middle of the night on a Friday and then disappearing.”

Your Worship, truth to power, they had to give you the money but they didn’t have to like it.

After all, if they hadn’t coughed up the cash, imagine the headline. Alberta Government Kills Calgary Olympic Dream.

They weren’t going there. They weren’t playing that game.

What’s this? Premier Notley is in Calgary on Thursday.

In this city and she doesn’t visit with Nenshi! What is the world coming to? Doesn’t she know who he is?

In fact, the mayor says no one from the province has talked to him since the Yes side lost. Oh dear.

Notley says it wasn’t appropriate for the Alberta government to go Yes or go No on the Olympic bid. They wanted to hear from Calgarians.

That’s why they demanded a plebiscite city council didn’t want to give Calgarians.

Ricardo Miranda, Notley’s culture minister, says Nenshi is looking for someone to blame.

No kidding.

Then Nenshi says the federal government’s sport minister fumbled the Olympics and “probably should be held accountable.”

Nenshi says the federal government could have announced their Olympic funding earlier.

The day before, Nenshi said the Yes side had terrific momentum and wondered what would have happened if the feds had come in earlier and Yes had more time.

Oh well.

Nenshi hasn’t heard from the federal government either. Sad.

The mayor doesn’t realize a lot of people voted No because Calgary city hall screwed up.

Remember the time when I held up a document on Olympic finances.

Remember the best parts were all blacked out and treated as top secret, including one whole page about revenue projections and expense projections and construction budget projections and financial guarantees.

That was a City of Calgary document.

City hall talked a lot about the Olympics but they didn’t say much that made sense.

Methinks even the Olympic bid people would have loved them to shut up.

But city hall didn’t.

They spent time telling us what they couldn’t tell us.

But, oh no, a No vote to the Olympics couldn’t be a failure of Nenshi’s leadership.

This is how city hall works.

When they screw up, they try to hide it or fudge it or pretend it isn’t there.

When that doesn’t work, it’s on to Plan B. Blame somebody else.

Taking some responsibility? Forget about it.

Putting the mirror up to someone else is so much easier than looking in the mirror yourself.

And, while we’re letting cats out of the bag, more than a few Calgarians voted No to the Olympics because they don’t like Nenshi.

Remember last year when Nenshi was re-elected with a very slim majority.

He’s a mere mortal now.

What could be worse for Nenshi on this day? The Olympic vote stats came out.

Let’s go ward by ward. Did they go Yes or No?

Ward 1. No. Ward 2. No. Ward 3. No. Ward 4. No. Ward 5. No. Ward 6. No. Ward 7. No.

Isn’t this fun?

Ward 8. Yes. The ward includes Mount Royal.

Ward 9. Really No. The ward includes Forest Lawn, Dover and Ogden. Way to go!

Ward 10. Really No. The ward includes Marlborough Park, Temple and Rundle. More great neighbourhoods!

Ward 11. No. A shout out to Braeside, Cedarbrae and Acadia, among others.

Ward 12. No. Riverbend, Cranston. Among the smart ones.

Ward 13. A big No. Nice to see Canyon Meadows on board!

Ward 14. No.

My oh my. Thirteen wards go No and one ward goes Yes.

Somebody is out of touch. Who could it be?

Does his name start with a N?

rbell@postmedia.com

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Ontario excludes OHL players from provincial employment standards

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PETERBOROUGH, Ont. — The Government of Ontario is excluding Ontario Hockey League players from provincial employment standards legislation in order to keep a “level playing field” with other major junior hockey leagues across the country, the province said in a release Thursday.

The move maintains the status of the league’s 425 players as amateur athletes, and prevents them from becoming employees regulated by the Employment Standards Act.

“Hockey is central to so many childhoods, so many great family moments, part of all our communities,” Premier Doug Ford said in a statement. “Our government is proud to take action and cut red tape to provide clarity and help make sure the OHL is able to continue training players and showcase this great sport.”

The provincial government called the application of the legislation to OHL players “unnecessary” and said it is “protecting the long-term sustainability of local junior hockey teams.”

Ontario said players will still be protected by legislation, such as the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

“Amateur hockey is part of Canadian life, and we’re ensuring it stays that way,” said Ford.

The Canadian Hockey League — the parent organization of the OHL, along with the Western Hockey League and Quebec Major Junior Hockey League — is currently embroiled in an $180-million class-action lawsuit, filed in 2014 by Toronto-based Charney Lawyers. The suit on behalf of all current and many former players seeks outstanding wages, overtime pay, holiday pay and vacation pay.

Sam Berg, a former Niagara IceDogs forward, and Daniel Pachis, a former member of the Oshawa Generals, were recognized as the representative plaintiffs against the OHL when the lawsuit was certified in March 2017. The OHL appealed the certification and is expected to be heard in court on Jan. 29.

The league lauded the Government of Ontario’s decision Thursday.

“I want to thank the government for its leadership in ensuring that our 17 Ontario teams can continue to be leaders in the community and contribute to the economic development of the communities in which we play,” said OHL commissioner David Branch, who also serves as CHL president.

“This also allows our teams to continue to focus on our most important role, and that is providing our 425 players with the best on and off-ice experience, the hallmark of which is our scholarship program.”

Branch sent a letter to the province on Nov. 5, pushing for the government to keep players’ amateur status.

Joshua Mandryk, a lawyer at Goldblatt Partners, which is also pursuing the suit against the CHL, told The Canadian Press earlier this week it wasn’t given an opportunity to present its side before the Ontario government publicly threw its support behind the league.

Junior players are currently eligible for post-secondary school scholarships, with each season spent in the league being worth one year of tuition, books and compulsory fees. Players also get money for out-of-pocket expenses, equipment, billeting and travel costs while on a CHL roster.

The news comes after nearly all other jurisdictions in which CHL teams play have reviewed this issue and already passed exemptions/clarifications on employee standards, including Quebec, New Brunswick, B.C, Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia, Manitoba and Prince Edward Island, as well as the states of Washington and Michigan.

With files from Kyle Cicerella in Toronto

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