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Kyrie Irving defends LeBron James: ‘He checks every mark’ in MVP race

Kyrie Irving is coming to his former teammate’s defense.

While the Celtics star thinks James Harden deserved to win the NBA’s MVP award, he feels LeBron James earned consideration for the honor as well.

The draft’s tone will be set with the Kings at No. 2 once Deandre Ayton comes off the board to the Suns at No. Sacramento has been linked to a number of prospects, including Marvin Bagley III and Michael Porter Jr. Its front office and ownership also flew to Spain to meet with Luka Doncic. What the team opts to do with its pick will be the first real domino to fall on draft night.

This Mock Draft differs from our recently released final Big Board, which ranks the top prospects in the class, in that it is an attempt to predict what teams will actually do on draft night. Given the aforementioned uncertainty, you should obviously expect all of the following predictions to be totally accurate…

Harden’s Rockets did not play many games in clutch situations — just four, and Houston won all four — but he struggled, scoring 1.8 points on 25.0 percent shooting, 12.5 percent on 3s. James scored 4.7 points, shooting 50.0 percent and 40.0 percent from the arc.

I’d probably shift a few other things in my ballot, too, considering how Anthony Davis played, and how much more important to the Warriors Stephen Curry was in relation to Kevin Durant. My post-postseason MVP ballot would go like this…

My Coach of the Year ballot would probably be the most dramatically different. I voted for Dwane Casey, who was impressive in getting his team to buy into a ball-sharing offense and a revamped bench that helped the team win a franchise-best 59 games. Based on the regular season, he Cheap Jerseys World was Cheap Jerseys Supply deserving.

But then his bunch got swept by the Cavaliers, and Casey got fired. Ahem.

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The Cubs didn’t let up in the seventh when they batted around.

Jason Heyward’s pinch-hit RBI double gave them the lead for good, 4-3.

Almora followed with a popup to first base. Max Muncy used his glove as a shield against the sun in a cloudless sky, but the ball dropped for a single and scored Kyle Schwarber, who reached on a walk.

Rizzo stroked a double to right-center field off Erik Goeddel, extending the lead to 8-3. Russell followed with a two-run shot on an 0-2 pitch that made it 10-3. The Cubs’ seven runs were the most by a Dodgers’ opponent in an inning this season.

Cubs starter Jose Quintana gave up three runs and seven hits in 5 1/3 innings, the fourth time in five starts this month he hasn’t completed six innings. The left-hander struck out four and walked three.

Rougned Odor, Robinson Chirinos and Nomar Mazara homered in a seven-run second inning. Joey Gallo and Choo went deep in the third as the Rangers won for the 10th time in 12 games.

Gallardo spent two months with Texas’ Triple-A Round Rock affiliate before being called up and credits the pitch clock in the minors for helping him.

Grab the ball and go, said Gallardo, who won 13 games for Texas in 2015. Not allowing myself and the hitter to think about things.

Rosario homered in the top of the fifth inning, then was pulled from left field shortly after fielding a hit by Anthony Rizzo in the bottom half. The Cubs said it was 96 degrees at the time with a heat index of 107 — that’s a calculation of how hot it actually feels, with the humidity factored in.

That was a pretty brutal day, Maddon said. If you put that on AstroTurf, that would have been like the worst ever.

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Where will Wendell Carter land in NBA Draft?

In a draft in which four or five players could be tabbed a wildcard, Duke center Wendell Carter ranks among them. Carter is one of the few top prospects to work out for the Grizzlies, who own the No. 4 pick and have been entertaining offers to trade out of the spot, and could be the favorite to go to Memphis if the team keeps that pick.

Of course, Carter — who said he models his game after Boston’s Al Horford — would have one of the best players in franchise history in front of him at the center spot, Marc Gasol.

Asked about the comments, Carter said, My mom is my mom. She has her opinions. She doesn’t mind sharing them.

Bowen, a defensive specialist who won three NBA championships with the Spurs, harshly criticized Leonard for his attitude. Leonard played only nine games last season, as he dealt with quadriceps tendinopathy.

Bowen, a game analyst on Los Angeles Clippers broadcasts, told the show Leonard has nothing but excuses going on.

Bowen played eight of his 14 NBA seasons with the Spurs, making the NBA All-Defensive First Team five times.

Musgrove (3-3), a 2011 graduate of Grossmont High in suburban El Cajon, was facing the Padres for the first time in his three-year big league career. He allowed seven singles while striking out five and walking two.

When Casspi signed for the minimum with the Warriors a year ago, it was roundly lauded (including in these parts) as an ideal signing. Instead, Casspi didn’t even make it to the playoffs with Golden State, which released him to make room for Quinn Cook on the postseason roster.

That outcome aside, Casspi remains worth a flier for a team in need of combo forward help. He could end up filling in for Chandler Parsons when Parsons is unable to play due to injury or rest, something the Grizzlies have to plan on happening on a regular basis. And Casspi surely came cheap after his ill-fated season with the Warriors.

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Tyler Anderson got in a groove from the first inning and kept on going.

Anderson tossed a career-high eight scoreless innings, Pat Valaika, Nolan Arenado and Chris Iannetta homered, and the Colorado Rockies beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 3-1 on Friday night.

Anderson (5-3) struck out eight and walked one on 96 pitches. The left-hander retired his first 11 batters before giving up a two-out single to Justin Turner in the fourth. Matt Kemp singled leading off the fifth and Yasiel Puig narrowly beat out the throw on a two-out bunt in the same inning.

It’s been a while since everything has really been on, Anderson said. My last couple of starts were pretty close, I felt like my command was there I just made a couple mistakes. Tonight I didn’t make those mistakes. It was a total mix of all my pitches.

It felt good to put the barrel on the ball in a real game, a big league game, Valaika said. It felt good to get the lead, too.

The Rockies turned double plays behind Anderson in the fifth and eighth innings.

Andy pitched great. He was spotting up everything, it was pretty easy to play defense, Valaika said. I was thinking it was the third inning and I hadn’t really fielded anything yet.

According to NBA analyst Brendan Haywood, the Hornets locker room won’t miss Howard.

When I talk to people behind the scenes, the locker room hated Dwight Howard, Haywood told SiriusXM. I’m not sure Charlotte is rebuilding or if they’re just trying to get Dwight Howard out of there, but it was clear the locker room did not like Dwight Howard.

Mozgov is in a similar situation as he’s going to his fourth team in as many seasons. He played in only 31 games for Brooklyn last season and averaged 4.2 points and 3.2 rebounds per game.

Earlier this week he criticized the Nets for his lackluster campaign.

I’m very dissatisfied with my NBA season. It was a hard one and really bad, Mozgov said on his personal blog. The breaking point came quite unexpectedly. The coach just said: ‘This is the situation we have.’ There were no transitional periods, just like this: bang!

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Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski says he has no plans to retire

Mike Krzyzewski, at age 71, has no intention of ending his run as arguably the greatest college basketball coach of all time.

Monday on the College Hoops Today podcast, the Duke coach said: I have no plans to retire.

Wendell Carter Jr. believes he and Duke teammates will blow up in NBA

Starting with Kyrie Irving in 2011, Krzyzewski has had 14 one-and-done players — alll of whom were five-star recruits. Just last week, three Duke players were selected in the NBA Draft, including two in the top 10 (Marvin Bagley III second overall, Wendell Carter Jr. seventh overall).

Krzyzewski has the most wins in NCAA basketball history with 1,100 and has five NCAA titles.

Anthony Rendon, Trea Turner, Bryce Harper, Brian Goodwin and Mark Reynolds also homered for the Nationals, who set a season high for homers. Washington hadn’t homered while losing its last three, getting outscored 16-3 in those defeats.

We’re back, Soto said.

Rendon added two doubles and three RBI, and Harper also contributed three hits and three RBI. With his drive, Harper became the first NL batter to reach 20 homers.

We needed that, manager Dave Martinez said. Bats came alive and they came alive big.

Rhys Hoskins, Scott Kingery and Carlos Santana homered for Philadelphia. Kingery was a triple shy of the cycle.

The teams combined for 28 hits, including 16 for extra bases, on a steamy night in Philadelphia with the game-time temperature 90 degrees.

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76ers coach Brett Brown on Markelle Fultz: ‘He’s not doing much playing right now’

Hanlen is known for the work he’s done with Bradley Beal, Jayson Tatum, and Joel Embiid.

Philadelphia selected the 20-year-old with the No.1 overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, but Fultz’s performance in his first season with the NBA was underwhelming as he averaged 7.1 points with 3.1 rebounds and 3.8 assists.

Antetokounmpo later clarified on Twitter that the reply was in good fun and added that Bamba is a good kid and a good player who will be a good fit with the Magic.

Just wanted to clear things up because I enjoy sharing funny moments with my fans…Mo Bamba is a great player and Orlando gained an amazing talent! I wish him the best of luck with his future in this talented league!

Those who follow the Bucks guard/forward on social media are no strangers to his comical Instagram live videos and his recent adventures into American cuisine, which he has recapped on Twitter.

This was another example of what makes Antetokounmpo one of the most likable players in the NBA and a must-follow on social media.

Chandler averaged 10 points and 5.4 rebounds per game for the Nuggets last season. He also knocked down 35.8 percent of his 3-pointers and tallied a career-high 2.2 assists per contest.

Chandler was originally selected by the Knicks with the 23rd pick of the 2007 NBA Draft. He spent just under four seasons in New York before he was sent to Denver in the Carmelo Anthony trade.

The Nuggets finished 2017-18 with a 46-36 record and missed the playoffs for the fifth straight season. They selected former Missouri forward Michael Porter Jr. with the 14th pick of the 2018 NBA Draft.

Ranking Jones this highly requires a bit of projection, but for an athletic wing who averaged 2.4 steals and 1.2 blocks per 40 minutes as a freshman, there are reasons to buy-in.

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Celtics’ Robert Williams misses flight, then first summer league practice

Boston Celtics first-round draft pick Robert Williams, who already had overslept an introductory conference call the day after the NBA draft, missed a flight to Boston and was not present for the start of the team’s summer league practices on Sunday.

I think everyone’s disappointed. You want to get everything off to a good start in the first day, but we’ll handle that internally and move forward.

Williams, who spurned an offer to be at the draft in Brooklyn to instead gather with family and friends at a Buffalo Wild Wings in his native Louisiana on draft night, admitted he overslept a conference call the next morning. A rescheduled call an hour later was plagued by poor sound quality.

Williams arrived in Boston last week and met with coach Brad Stevens, who reminded the athletic forward that, in order to reach his potential, he would have to work hard. Williams also chatted with All-Star forward Al Horford and later noted he plans to use the veteran big man as a guide.

Since the start of the 2016-17 season, Harden is averaging 10 assists per game. Only two other players have averaged more than 8.6 in that time.

He attempted 727 2-pointers and 722 3-pointers, one of three players to attempt 700+ 2- and 3-point field goals in a single season, and the first player to do so twice. His 722 3-point attempts are the fourth most in a single season in NBA history.

Harden hit 265 3-pointers this season, the ninth-most 3-pointers hit by a player in a single season. He has hit 971 3-pointers since the start of the 2014-15 season. Only Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson have hit more.

Harden took 727 free throws in 2017-18, his fourth time leading the NBA in free-throw attempts and fifth time in the last six years. Only three players have led the NBA in that category more often than Harden.

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