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With Butler dominating, Lakers can’t afford lackadaisical play from big dogs



Jimmy Butler erupted for 40 points, 13 assists and 11 rebounds to record his first career playoff triple-double, helping the Miami Heat get back into the NBA Finals against the Los Angeles Lakers with a 115-104 win Sunday night, and shrinking Los Angeles’ series lead to 2-1.

Still playing shorthanded with all-star Bam Adebayo and starting point guard Goran Dragic both out with injury, the Heat were facing as close to a must-win scenario as possible without being on the verge of elimination, as no team in NBA Finals history has come back from a 3-0 deficit.

Miami got exactly the kind of effort that was needed to keep its championship aspirations alive, playing with far more urgency and desperation than the lackadaisical-looking Lakers.

Here are a few takeaways from a big Heat victory in Game 3 of the Finals.

Jimmy Badass

Here’s something to put the magnitude of Butler’s triple-double into context: He’s just the third player to record a 40-point triple-double in the Finals in league history, joining LeBron James in Game 5 of the 2015 Finals and Jerry West in Game 7 way back in 1969.

That’s pretty good company.

Even more impressive was how efficient he was in doing all his damage, shooting 14-of-20 from the floor, 12-for-14 from the free-throw line and, as a true nod to his throwback-style game, not even taking a single-three-point shot.

Instead, he elected to get all the way to the basket or to slither into open pockets of space 12–15 feet out — usually in the painted area — to put up fadeaways and hooks over defenders he was able to shake loose with his superior footwork.

Butler started the game aggressively, looking to get to his spots and score and facilitate when he was prevented from getting to his pet areas of the floor, and he was rewarded by what was probably the greatest game of his entire life — not that he actually cares about his own individual brilliance, mind you.

“Winning. I don’t care about a triple-double, I don’t care about none of that, I really don’t,” Butler told sideline reporter Rachel Nichols after the game when asked of his magnificent performance. “I want to win. We did that and I’m happy with the outcome.”

Win the Heat certainly did, and they wouldn’t have been able to without Butler.

Lakers superstars falter

After being the talk of the Finals over the first two games and looking like the Finals MVP frontrunner, Anthony Davis was awful in Game 3, scoring 15 points and grabbing just five rebounds on 6-for-9 shooting, while recording a team-worst minus-26 rating on the evening.

James, on the other hand, looked to have another strong game with a 25-point, 10-rebound, eight-assist night, but he disappeared down the stretch when the Lakers needed him most, committing two travelling violations midway through the fourth quarter and proceeding to go 1-for-4 the rest of the way in the frame — and even turning the ball over two more times afterwards.

For the contest, James committed eight turnovers, tying his career-worst mark in the Finals, and his loose handle was indicative of a troubling trend for the Lakers all night long on Sunday as they turned the ball over 20 times total, allowing the Heat to score 21 points off those mistakes.

In particular, the first quarter set the tone for this Los Angeles letdown as the Lakers turned the ball over 10 times for 11 Miami points, with James committing four turnovers alone in that opening frame.

Davis coughed up the rock four times himself in the first quarter and, even worse for the Lakers, he picked up two early fouls in the first quarter, leading to an off night that saw him unable to get into a rhythm because of how much Lakers head coach was forced to sit him.

Regardless of the circumstance, however, the Lakers needed more from their two superstars and the bottom line is on Sunday they didn’t deliver.

Yes, Butler was playing out of his mind, but twice the Lakers cut a 14-point Miami lead in the contest to either take the lead or get back into striking distance and Los Angeles couldn’t get the job done because their two big dogs couldn’t get themselves unleashed.

If the Lakers are to eventually close out this series as most expect they will, they can’t afford slippage like this again from Davis and James.

Heat role players show out

A best-case scenario for the Heat heading into Game 4 would be the return of Adebayo and Dragic to the lineup, their second- and third-best players, respectively.

However, to bank on those two players’ return would be to bank on a serious ‘what if’ and wouldn’t be the most prudent thing to do.

Thankfully, the players who have attempted to fill the void in their absence have made good so far on the increased opportunity and Game 3 was a shining example of this.

After a magnificent 24-point, nine-rebound performance in Game 2, Canadian Kelly Olynyk scored 17 points and collected seven rebounds while going 3-for-5 from three-point range — including a clutch triple with just about eight minutes to play in the fourth to put Miami back up three after Los Angeles had briefly taken the lead a couple possessions beforehand.

Olynyk’s three-point shooting and his all-around offensive skill has proven to be something Heat coach Erik Spoelstra can rely upon in these Finals to give his team a spark, so it’ll be interesting to see how Olynyk will continue to be used should Adebayo manage to return.

And after going just 3-for-13 for 11 points in the first three quarters, Heat rookie Tyler Herro helped close out the win for Miami Sunday, scoring eight in the fourth quarter on 3-for-5 shooting, including a magnificent reverse and-one layup that will surely see the sneer he was caught doing afterwards turn him into a meme legend.

Herro’s confidence in himself is so unwavering it almost seems unfathomable, but with Dragic out of the lineup, they need someone who can get his own shot and is unafraid to launch them — and he certainly fits the bill.

He hasn’t been as efficient as they probably want him to be, but as his fourth-quarter performance in Game 3 showed, he can get hot and fill it up at a moment’s notice, and when he does, the Heat usually benefit greatly.

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Coach K Told A Kobe Bryant Story About 2008 Olympics That Proves The Mamba’s Competitive Level Was Unmatched – BroBible



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There are two athletes in the past 30+ years who proved to be next level in their preparation and obsession to compete: Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan. With 11 NBA championships between them, “The Black Mamba” and “His Airness” were unmatched in their relentless drive, going above and beyond in order to win at all costs. It’s why they’re two of the best ballers to ever lace ’em up — and why people truly believe in the “Mamba Mentality” implemented by Kobe.

While we got a behind-the-scenes look at Jordan’s mentality during this year’s amazing documentary, The Last Dance, following the tragic death of Bryant in January, we’ve been getting a bunch of stories about what made him so unique and what drove him. Similar to MJ, Kobe was different, man, and had a desire that just couldn’t be duplicated.

In the latest example of that, Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski, who also guided Team USA to the gold medal in the 2008 Olympics, sat down with The Old Man and the Three with JJ Redick and Tommy Alter to talk shop. Naturally, Kobe Bryant came up, with Coach K telling an awesome story about the Lakers superstar taking on the challenge of shutting down the best scorer on every opposing team America played during the tournament.

Considering Bryant averaged 28.3 points a game during the 2007-08 season prior to the Olympics, it’s wild to hear Coach K talk about the guy’s willingness to try and stop another player from scoring instead of scoring himself. But, hey, that’s part of what made Kobe Bryant so incredible: His desire and mindset.

Here’s a snippet from the interview Coach K did during his time on The Old Man and the Three with JJ Redick and Tommy Alter podcast a few days ago.

“‘I need to ask you a favor. I want to guard the best perimeter defender on every team that we play.’

“Now, he’s the NBA scoring champ. He’s the best player in the league at that time. He had seven 50-point games that year. And he knew that he’d have to change a little bit to be a leader.”

“He pauses and, you know, his eyes, he and Jordan had the same eyes; they killed you with their eyes. And he leans forward and says, ‘Coach, I promise you I’ll destroy them.’ So I thought, ‘holy shit,’ this is good.

“So we go and have a team meeting, and, in the first practice, he doesn’t take a shot. He does not take one shot.”

“I call him over afterwards and he said, ‘Coach, I promised you, I’ll destroy them.’ And I said, look, you’ll destroy teams offensively… will you shoot the friggin’ ball? And he said from then on that I was the only coach, ever, to ask him to shoot.

“You know what he was doing, JJ? He knew that, for us to win the gold medal, we would have to beat Argentina, whether it be the semis or the Gold Medal Game, and that he wanted to guard Ginobili. Believe me, he already had that figured out. And he was going to prepare to guard Ginobili.”

You can watch the entire interview with Coach K below, which dives into a lot about the legendary Duke coach’s career, as well as some of his experiences around the great Kobe Bryant.

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(H/T The Spun)

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UK Authorities Allege Russian Hackers Targeted the 2020 Olympics – Gizmodo



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As if the 2020 Olympics haven’t had enough hurdles to contend with, it looks like we can add cyberattacks to the list. Earlier today, UK officials put out a memo noting that hackers working with the GRU—Russia’s military intelligence agency—had carried out numerous cyberattacks against major sponsors, organizers, and other key players at this year’s Olympic Games, which were scheduled to take place in Tokyo over the summer before they were postponed.


While authorities across the pond didn’t go into detail about what these cyberattacks looked like, there’s a chance the actors involved could be related to the six GRU agents who were just indicted by the U.S. Department of Justice for carrying out years of cyberattacks targeting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, the 2017 French presidential election, and more.

As part of his statement on the recent string of Olympics hacks originating from Russian soil, UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab also explained exactly what went down in 2018 as part of his statement. At the time, the GRU deployed a strain of VPNFilter malware against the IT systems running the Winter Games meant to either wipe data from those computers and networks or disable them entirely. While administrators at the time were able to isolate the buggy devices and replace them in time to get the Olympics back on track with minimal disruption, it was still clear to the UK’s cyber authorities that this was a move on Russia’s part to completely “sabotage” the entire process of the Winter Olympics.


The DOJ’s own indictment goes into further detail, noting that hosts, participants, and attendees of the PyeongChang Winter Olympics—not to mention South Korean citizens, officials, and athletes—were attacked with “spearphishing campaigns and malicious mobile applications” meant to hoover sensitive data from their devices.

There’s a good chance that the current cyberattack—like the attack back in 2018—can be tied back to Russian athletes being excluded from the Olympics over longstanding doping violations. In 2019, the World Anti-Doping Agency formally banned Russia from competing in the Olympics for the next four years, also barring the country from hosting international events on its home turf. At the time, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev chocked the ban up to “chronic anti-Russian hysteria.”

But the latest round of indictments against the six GRU officers seems to be anything but.

“For more than two years we have worked tirelessly to expose these Russian GRU Officers who engaged in a global campaign of hacking, disruption, and destabilization,” U.S. Attorney Scott W. Brady said in a statement, noting that these attacks, stretching back to 2015, tallied up to be “the most destructive and costly cyberattacks in history.”


“The crimes committed by Russian government officials were against real victims who suffered real harm,” he added.

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Maple Leafs News & Rumors: Marlies News & Player Signings – The Hockey Writers



The Toronto Marlies are the primary development program for the Toronto Maple Leafs, so it makes sense to stay up-to-date with what’s happening within their AHL affiliate. This is especially true regarding the players the Marlies are signing because they might soon make their way to the Maple Leafs’ roster.

Related: Maple Leafs News & Rumors: Babcock, Parayko, Bracco & More

In fact, at the end of the 2019-20 regular season, nine players who “developed” with the Marlies were in Toronto including Travis Dermott, Pierre Engvall, Justin Holl, Zach Hyman, Martin Marincin, William Nylander, Morgan Rielly, Calle Rosen, and Rasmus Sandin. Frederik Gauthier was also included in this group, but he wasn’t qualified by the team.

Pierre Engvall, Toronto Maple Leafs (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

In addition, because Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas must plan for a 2020-21 season that’s still in the shadows, he’s become even more creative in how he utilizes the Maple Leafs and the Marlies as a way to rest players and take advantage of the organization’s depth by setting up a revolving door between the two clubs.

In some cases, this would allow for greater movement – much of it waiver-exempt – between the NHL and the AHL teams and assigning contracts to the Marlies means they don’t count against the Maple Leafs’ cap.

Item One: Marlies Sign Scott Sabourin to an AHL Contract

Last week, the Marlies signed Scott Sabourin to an AHL contract. Sabourin is not a new name. In fact, he was one of the feel-good stories of last season when, after playing with eight different minor-league teams, he finally made his NHL debut at the age of 27. He played 35 games with the Ottawa Senators during the 2019-20 season, scoring two goals and four assists.

Scott Sabourin Ottawa Senators
Scott Sabourin, when he was with the Ottawa Senators (Courtesy Ottawa Senators)

Sabourin has played in 308 AHL regular-season games with five teams (the Manchester Monarchs, Iowa Wild, Ontario Reign, San Diego Gulls, and the Stockton Heat) and scored 77 points (37 goals, 40 assists) He could rise to take a spot on the Maple Leafs’ roster; but, having an AHL contract is limiting. Specifically, his contract does not allow him to be called up unless the Maple Leafs sign him to an NHL contract when he arrives in Toronto.

Item Two: Long-Time Marlie Richard Clune Returns to the Team

Richard Clune signed a one-year AHL contract with the Marlies. Clune scored three goals and four points in 16 AHL contests in 2019-20. Although the 33-year-old has played 139 NHL games during his career, he hasn’t skated for an NHL team since 2015-16.

Related: Roger Neilson: Coaching Genius & Innovator

Clune has been a good soldier for the Marlies and is valuable in an on-ice leadership capacity. During his five Marlies seasons as an alternate captain, he’s scored 43 points (18 goals, 25 assists) in 164 regular-season games. He’s a native of Toronto and helped the Marlies win the 2018 Calder Cup.

Since he was selected by the Dallas Stars in the third round (71st overall) of the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, Clune has played more than 600 games at the NHL and AHL levels. He’s been a mainstay on the Marlies for several seasons, and it’s good to see him re-signed.

Item Three: Rourke Chartier Signs a One-Year AHL Contract with the Marlies. 

Rourke Chartier is another depth forward general manager Dubas has signed. At 24 years old, he has played a lot of hockey; however, injuries didn’t allow him to play at all during the 2019-20 season. By signing Chartier, Dubas is taking a chance the young player can get his career back on track.

During the 2018-19 season, he split time with the San Jose Sharks and their AHL affiliate the San Jose Barracuda. He scored a goal in 13 games with the Sharks and six goals and 18 points in 26 games with the Barracuda. In total, the native of Saskatoon has played 121-career AHL regular-season games, scoring 74 points (30 goals, 44 assists).

Rourke Chartier with the San Jose Barracuda (Scott Dinn/San Jose Barracuda)

Similar to several other Dubas signees, Chartier has a history of on-ice leadership. He played for the Kelowna Rockets when they won the 2014-15 WHL Championship and served as an alternate captain for two seasons.

Item Four: The Marlies Sign forward Tyler Gaudet to a One-Year AHL Contract

The 27-year-old Tyler Gaudet signed a one-year contract. Gaudet is not a new player with the Marlies. He played in 58 games during the 2019-20 season and scored four goals and 17 assists. He’s a long-time AHL player and, during his 356 regular-season AHL games, Gaudet has scored 43 goals and 86 assists (129 points).

Related: Who is the NHL’s Top Goaltending Prospect?

Gaudet is a native of southern Ontario (Hamilton) and has NHL experience, playing in 20 career NHL regular-season games with the Arizona Coyotes, where he scored a goal and three assists.

Item Five: The Marlies Sign Defenceman Riley McCourt to a Two-Year AHL Contract

In signing Riley McCourt, Dubas might be looking for an uncut gem. The 20-year-old, left-shot defenseman went undrafted but has slowly risen through the junior ranks. Last season, he began to see success. McCourt played 63 games with the OHL’s Flint Firebirds and recorded a career-high 18 goals and 44 assists (62 points) which ranked fifth among OHL defensemen in scoring.

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He, too, is a southern Ontario native (St. Catharines) and, during his five-season OHL career, he’s played 175 games and scored 30 goals and 87 assists with both the Firebirds and the Hamilton Bulldogs. He might be a fun youngster to watch because he’s showing some offensive potential.

What Might Be After the Marlies?

Dubas has inked all of these players to AHL contracts, largely for salary-cap reasons which allows the Maple Leafs to ascribe their contracts to the Marlies and not the Maple Leafs. Should any of them be called up to Toronto, they’d have to sign NHL contracts.

Related: Maple Leafs Become Chapter in Vesey’s Puzzling Career

When next season begins to unfold – in whatever shape that might be – it’ll be interesting to see if any of these players or who will rise to the big club’s roster. There are always injuries, and Dubas has a way of stockpiling both younger and experienced talent in his organization as a way to help.

As noted, there are a number of Marlies grads who have made a big impact on the Maple Leafs, not the least of which are two current stars – William Nylander and Morgan Rielly.

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