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Battle of LA among 8 NBA games Must Watch

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The NBA released its full 2019-20 regular-season schedule on Monday with a number of highlights including the return of many stars who changed teams in the off-season and one of the most anticipated Christmas Day games in recent memory.

Here’s eight games to mark on your calendars for the coming season:

Dec. 25: Clippers vs. Lakers

Christmas Day won’t be the first meeting between these two teams this coming season (they’ll square off on opening night on Oct. 22), but it’ll likely be the most significant, at least unless they see each other in the playoffs.

Both the Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers are, seemingly for the first time ever, both considered primetime teams with equal star power on both sides in LeBron James and Anthony Davis on the Lakers and Kawhi Leonard and Paul George on the Clippers.

It’s a “Battle for L.A.” we’ve never seen before on the NBA’s most important regular-season day in the marquee timeslot of 8 p.m. ET.

This will be a game where a statement is made by either club.

Nov. 14: Mavericks vs. Knicks

Though it’s only been about six months, given the rapid nature of movement in the NBA, Kristaps Porzingis’s trade demand and subsequent move to the Dallas Mavericks feels like a lifetime ago, especially because he hasn’t played since Feb. 6, 2018 recovering from an ACL injury.

Regardless of his checkered-looking health, the Mavericks still signed the 24-year-old seven-footer to a five-year, $158-million max contract. It was a surefire sign of confidence his health woes will be put behind him and, along with 2019 rookie of the year Luka Doncic, will restore Dallas’ former glory.

On the flip side of this equation, the Knicks will likely be hoping for the exact opposite to happen. New York traded Porzingis for, essentially Dennis Smith Jr., a bunch of spare parts and additional cap space to try to lure a marquee free agent in the off-season of which they failed.

Porzingis’s return to Madison Square Garden will be very interesting because he was probably the one thing the Knicks could bank on as hope for their future before allegedly requesting a trade.

Porzingis will get a crack his first crack at revenge on Nov. 14 and get a chance to leave Knicks fans bawling like that kid who did the same when New York first drafted him in 2015.

Nov. 15: Jazz vs. Grizzlies

As the old expression goes, “If you love someone, let them go.”

That’s exactly what the Memphis Grizzlies did when they traded franchise icon Marc Gasol to the Toronto Raptors at the trade deadline to give him a shot at winning a championship (of which he made good on) and did so again in early July when they dealt Memphis’s other basketball legend, Mike Conley, to the Utah Jazz.

It’s still unclear if Conley’s Utah chapter will go as well as Gasol’s has in Toronto, but being added to a Jazz team as something of the missing piece to what looks like a championship contender this season is a pretty good start.

When Conley returns to Memphis for the first time on Nov. 15, unlike other contests listed here, expect a very warm welcome from the Grizzlies faithful as it’s pretty well understood that where Conley is in his career doesn’t align with the rebuild the Grizzlies is undertaking, anchored by 2019 No. 2 overall pick, and Conley heir, Ja Morant.

Conley is one of the best players in Memphis history and will be celebrated appropriately because of it.

Nov. 27: Nets vs. Celtics

If you’re looking for a game this season that features a hostile atmosphere, look no further.

It’s been well reported that Kyrie Irving’s Boston Celtics tenure wasn’t the best, with multiple reports of toxicity and chemistry issues abound with some of Boston’s young rising stars trying to co-exist with the six-time all-star (maybe-flat-earther).

As a result, the championship aspirations the Celtics were dreaming of when they traded for Irving in 2017, while also adding Gordon Hayward, went up in smoke with many pointing the finger to Irving. It makes his departure from Boston to the Brooklyn Nets in free agency this summer something of a welcome sight for Boston fans.

Now they can boo and jeer Irving without worry because he doesn’t plays for their team, and on Nov. 27 they’ll get first crack at it.

Nov. 27: Lakers vs. Pelicans

Putting the New Orleans Pelicans in a lame-duck position when he informed management he had no intention of signing a contract extension with the club and requesting a trade back in January, Anthony Davis did finally get his wish and was dealt to the Los Angeles Lakers to pair up with LeBron James.

In the aftermath, it would seem as if the Pelicans came away pretty well, extracting major value for Davis, who is set to become a free agent in the summer of 2020, in the form of promising young players like Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart and Brandon Ingram as well as three first-round picks. Additionally, the Pelicans won the draft lottery and got the right to take Zion Williamson first overall.

So, all in all, things aren’t that bad in NOLA.

However, Davis definitely ruffled some feathers and upset a lot of people in New Orleans on his way out. So when he does make his return to the team that originally drafted him No. 1 overall in 2012 on Nov. 27, expect the crowd to be more in a mood of throwing stones his way instead of beads.

Dec. 22: Clippers vs. Thunder

As the Kawhi Leonard saga from earlier this summer was playing out and we all discovered he had signed with the Los Angeles Clippers, it was then reported that alongside him would be Paul George coming in a trade.

Like the New Orleans Pelicans with Anthony Davis, Oklahoma City Thunder general manager Sam Presti came out looking amazing for his team in the deal that sent George to L.A., acquiring solid pieces in Danilo Gallinari, Canadian Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, five first-round picks and the rights to two more pick swaps.

However, no matter what kind of haul Presti managed to get for George, there still has to be some bitter feelings over the last-minute demand the six-time all-star levied on Presti and the Thunder. Oklahoma City was obviously looking ahead to another season of the George-Russell Westbrook combo and then had to completely shift course.

Expect a negative welcome from OKC fans when George makes his return for the first time to Chesapeake Energy Arena on Dec. 22.

No matter how strong the Thunder look positioned for the future, George’s demand did, essentially, end the Westbrook era in Oklahoma City, something that won’t be forgotten.

Jan. 9: Rockets vs. Thunder

Another likely feel-good return for a beloved star. Russell Westbrook should expect a standing ovation on Jan. 9 for his accomplishments and loyalty shown to the Oklahoma City Thunder faithful, becoming the true face of the franchise even when Kevin Durant opted to leave for the Golden State Warriors.

What might be more interesting about this game is the response James Harden gets from the OKC fans. Harden was traded from the Thunder to the Rockets in 2012 and any bitter feelings fans may have had for him when he left should’ve already subsided. As such, it’ll be intriguing to see how Thunder fans respond to seeing both Westbrook and Harden – a couple of MVPs who used to play for their team – playing with each other again.

You’d have to think there’d be some conflict over “what if” scenarios along with a sense of “this is cool to see these two playing together again in this arena.”

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Jan. 10: Pelicans vs. Knicks

This is real simple: Zion Williamson vs. R.J. Barrett for the first time in their pro careers.

The two former Duke freshmen phenoms will go toe-to-toe in the first of what is expected to be many matchups over their careers on Jan. 10.

For Barrett, a Canadian, this is a matchup he’ll be licking his chops for as, despite being one of the best players in all of college basketball last season, he was nearly completely eclipsed by the sheer star power of Williamson and his gravity-defying, nearly-inhuman above-the-rim game that saw him doing a jaw-jobbing feat of athleticism basically every day.

If Barrett can come away with a win or just perform better than Williamson in this first matchup, it might go a long way to shift the perception he was a just a No. 2 guy at Duke to Williamson.

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Jays lose in 10 innings

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Blue Jays 1 Dodgers 2 (10 innings)

Great work from the pitchers, but we just didn’t hit. Facing Walker Buehler will do that to a team.

We did battle. There were a lot of long at bats.

Our pitchers only allowed 6 hits, unfortunately two out them were home runs.

  • Wilmer Font opened and pitched 2 innings, allowing 1 hit and 2 walks, with 4 strikeouts. He seems to do well in that opener spot.
  • Buddy Boshers gave us 1.1 scoreless, giving up 1 walk, getting 2 strikeouts.
  • Zack Godley gave up the Will Smith home run. It hit the foul pole. He went 3.2, with 2 walks and 3 strikeouts. And he gave up a line drive that Randal Grichuk and Teoscar Hernandez each figured the other would catch. Neither did. Grichuk chased it to the wall threw it in to Cavan Biggio, who made a great throw to the plate to get the runner. The play was reviewed but the call on the field was upheld.
  • Ken Giles pitched the 8th, to get him some work. He had a hard time finding the strike zone. He walked the first two he saw, but then Cody Bellinger lined one at Brandon Drury (playing second at this point) who doubled up the runner at second. The next batter lined one that Bo Bichette made a nice attempt at, catching it but dropping it. A strikeout got Giles out of the inning.
  • Jason Adam, just up from Buffalo, came into the suddenly tied game in the ninth. He gave up a jammed popup single. Very weak hit that landed in just the right spot. But, we got a nice double play, with Vlad (in the shift) making the turn at second. A pop out ended the inning.
  • Tim Mayza went in for the 10 and served up a home run to Max Muncy. Tim has had a rough time of it lately.

On offense we didn’t do much against Walker Buehler went 7 innings, giving up just 5 hits with 8 strikeouts. Joe Kelly pitched a perfect inning of relief.

Kenley Jansen give up a tying home run to Rowdy Tellez (who had been having a tough game until that point).

Billy McKinney had 2 hits and we had a hit each from Bichette, Biggio and Grichuk plus, of course, Rowdy’s home run.

We had a shot in the tenth. Vlad, after a long at bat, walked, bringing up Bo, but Bo popped out to end the inning.


Jays of the Day: Tellez (.261 WPA), Adam (.125) and Font (.094).

Suckage: Mayza (-.375), McGuire (-.166 for an 0 for 4, 2 k). Hernandez (-.155 for an 0 for 4, 1 k), Drury (-.131, 0 for 4) and Bichette (-.090, 1 for 5).


We had 359 comments in the GameThread. Minor Leaguer led the way. Good job sir.

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Defending champ Brooke Henderson 1 shot back at CP Women Open

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Brooke Henderson

Canada’s Brooke Henderson is quite comfortable in the role of defending champion.

She showed why during a strong opening round Thursday morning at Magna Golf Club.

Henderson fired a 6-under-par 66 for a two-shot clubhouse lead before American Annie Park set a competitive course record at 7-under 65 in the afternoon group to take sole possession of first.

With impressive length off the tee and a putting stroke that was reliable, the 21-year-old Henderson from Smiths Falls, Ont., displayed the same form that carried her to victory a year ago in Regina.

“It’s nice to be in a position where I had a good round, everything seemed to go right for me,” Henderson said. “Hopefully I can continue to stick to my game plan, make a lot of birdies, and I would love to be in this position on Sunday.”

WATCH | Brooke Henderson has solid 1st round:

Watch Brooke Henderson’s best shots, as she fired a 6-under 66 to take the clubhouse lead in the opening round of the CP Canadian Women’s Open. 1:22

Park didn’t know that she was making history at the exclusive Magna Golf Club, instead hoping for a career-low 64. She didn’t feel bad about stealing Henderson’s thunder, either.

“Brooke is a phenomenal player and not only that, she’s a great person. She’s such a sweetheart. I can see why the fans love her,” said Park. “I was focused on my own game out there and tried to play my best.”

Park wasn’t the only one to gain ground on Henderson in the afternoon. Quebec City’s Anne-Catherine Tanguay, Jin Young Ko, Nicole Broch Larsen and Pajaree Anannarukarn also shot 6-under 66 to enter into a five-way tie for second.

Cool, breezy conditions greeted players with morning tee times like Henderson, who has successfully defended titles on two occasions over her LPGA Tour career.

The 6,709-yard course has wide fairways and sets up nicely for big hitters. Henderson, who’s ninth on the Tour in average driving distance, gave herself opportunities and took advantage.

Simplicity kept Henderson on the fairway for most of the day. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press )

“For me when I’m playing well, (it’s) my ball striking, hitting a lot fairways, greens, and then just hoping I’m making some putts too,” she said.

Henderson said she felt calm on the first tee as dozens of supportive fans lined the block area. She crushed her opening drive and was on her way to a solid front nine that included four birdies.

Her lone hiccup came on the 399-yard, par-4 fourth hole after her drive found a bunker. Henderson, who settled for bogey, missed only one other fairway on the day and hit 16 of 18 greens.

“I just tried to keep things really simple,” she said. “When I showed up this morning it was really cold and windy and I was like, ‘Uh oh.’ But in the back of my head it was also sort of like Sunday last year, so I figured it might not be a bad thing.”

WATCH | Brooke Henderson breaks down her game:

Professional golfer and defending CP Women’s Open Champion Brooke Henderson walks us through the thought process and strategies of a par 4 golf hole. 2:34

Henderson closed with a 65 at Wascana Country Club in 2018 to become the first Canadian winner of this event in 45 years.

She was rewarded for her aggressive play at that tournament, but had to be more careful here with swirling winds making club selection more challenging.

After setting up on the par-3, 167-yard 17th, Henderson returned to her bag and had another chat with her sister and caddie Brittany. With a tough pin position behind a greenside pond, Henderson decided to play it safe by landing on the right side of the green and then two-putting for par.

Henderson pulled her drive on the 18th hole but rebounded with one of her best shots of the round. With a favourable lie in the rough, she elevated the ball nicely, cleared a bunker in front of the green and stuck the ball within four feet.

She hit the birdie putt to the delight of the partisan gallery.

“All the birdies pretty much fell for me today, which is a great feeling,” Henderson said. “It’s going to be hard to back up. Hopefully I’ll go out and keep hitting it well.”

Henderson has won nine career LPGA Tour events, a record for Canadians on the PGA or LPGA Tours. She’s sixth on the LPGA money list this year.

Fifteen Canadians and 96 of the top 100 money winners on the LPGA Tour this year are in the field at the US$2.25-million tournament. The winner will earn $337,500.

The 156-player list will be trimmed to low 70s and ties after Friday’s second round. Favourable weather conditions were expected through the weekend.

Unlike last year, domestic television coverage is available for all four rounds with TSN and RDS picking up a simulcast of the Golf Channel feed.

However, only three hours of coverage are provided each day. The early afternoon cutoff on Thursday came just before Henderson finished her round.

The 2018 tournament was the first year in recent memory that a Canadian sports network did not broadcast the event or pick up the simulcast.

When Henderson led after 54 holes last year, Bell Media and Golf Channel reached an agreement to allow Canadian viewers to watch the last three hours of the final round.

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Game recap Lightning rally past Bruins for 59th win

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TAMPA — Anthony Cirelli broke a tie with 53 seconds remaining in the third period, and the Tampa Bay Lightning became the fourth team in NHL history to win at least 59 games with a 5-4 victory against the Boston Bruins at Amalie Arena on Monday.

Steven Stamkos had two goals and two assists for Tampa Bay (59-14-4), which joined the 1977-78 Montreal Canadiens (59 wins), 1976-77 Canadiens (60) and 1995-96 Detroit Red Wings (62). Tampa Bay has clinched the Presidents’ Trophy for best regular-season record in the NHL.

Cirelli scored on a one-timer from the slot off a pass from Mathieu Joseph for the game-winner.

[WATCH: All Bruins vs. Lightning highlights]

“It was a good entry,” Cirelli said. “I think we quick upped there and all the guys had a pass in there from [Alex Killorn] to [Ryan McDonagh]. [McDonagh] hits [Joseph] and he puts in right in my wheelhouse there, and I was able to get a quick shot off and it goes in.”

Brad Marchand scored twice for Boston (46-21-9), which had its lead for second place in the Atlantic Division trimmed to five points. The third-place Toronto Maple Leafs defeated the Florida Panthers 7-5.

Video: BOS@TBL: Marchand buries Pastrnak’s feed for PPG

The Bruins had won four in a row.

“We expected a tight game and a transition game and being on our toes and keeping the plays simple,” Boston center Patrice Bergeron said. “We’re happy with some of the things we’ve done, but they’re a good team and they made us pay and we’re going to look at the video and tighten up a few things because it could’ve been a lot better.”

The Lightning rallied when Victor Hedman made it 4-3 at 5:36 of the third period and Nikita Kucherov tied it 4-4 at 13:15. Kucherov has 121 points (38 goals, 83 assists) and passed Sergei Fedorov (1993-94, Detroit Red Wings) for second-most points in a season by a Russia-born hockey player in NHL history behind Alexander Mogilny’s 127 for the Buffalo Sabres in 1992-93.

“We had some tough calls and some bad bounces,” Kucherov said. “So we just tried to stay to our structure and see what happens. [Fortunately] for us, we won.”

Stamkos’ 40th goal of the season gave the Lightning a 1-0 lead at 6:42 of the first period. It’s the fifth time in his NHL career Stamkos has scored 40 goals and first since the 2014-2015 season.

“There was definitely a little emotion on that one when that one went in,” Stamkos said. “It was nice. I’ve been fortunate to play with some good players this year, and hopefully some more are coming.”

Video: BOS@TBL: Stamkos reaches 40-goal mark for fifth time

Marchand tied it 1-1 with a power-play goal at 8:30 of the first period off a pass from David Pastrnak.

Stamkos scored again on a one-timer at 14:58 of the first period to give the Lightning a 2-1 lead.

Charlie Coyle scored his 12th goal of the season to tie it 2-2 at 8:42 of the second period.

Brandon Carlo gave the Bruins a 3-2 lead at 13:41 of the second period, and Marchand scored his second goal at 14:32 to make it 4-2.

“The third goal against was a tough one, and I think after I scored I might have got a little ahead of myself and started joining the rush a little bit too much there,” Carlo said.

Andrei Vasilevskiy made 13 saves for the Lightning; Tuukka Rask made 23 for the Bruins.

Video: Dunkin’ NHL Comebacks: Lightning storm by Bruins

They said it

“They came back and showed a lot of will for a team that has clinched first place. Clearly, they had an agenda. They wanted to beat the Bruins.” — Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy

“We were feeling better about our game than the score indicated, we knew [Vasilevskiy] was going to shut the door and then if we were just able to get that next one, we could put some pressure on them. We just moved our feet, we created some penalties, got some power plays which we didn’t score, which was disappointing, but it created some momentum and just wore then down a little bit. It was an exciting game.” — Lightning captain Steven Stamkos

Need to know

The Bruins are 287-19-16 with a two-goal lead since 2010-11. … Bergeron had two assists and has an NHL career-high 75 points (31 goals, 44 assists) this season. … Cassidy did not have an update on defenseman John Moore, who did not play after the first period because of an upper-body injury. … Lightning forward Ondrej Palat left the game in the first period with an upper-body injury. Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper did not have an update. … Stamkos had his fourth four-point game of the season.

What’s next

Bruins: Host the New York Rangers on Wednesday (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN)

Lightning: Host the Washington Capitals on Saturday (7 p.m. ET; NHLN, SUN, NBCSWA, NHL.TV)

Video: Lightning rally with three goals to down Bruins, 5-4

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