<![CDATA[NBC New York - Sports]]> Copyright 2014 http://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/sports http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/4NY_Horizontal.jpg NBC New York http://www.nbcnewyork.com en-us Sat, 25 Oct 2014 11:46:06 -0400 Sat, 25 Oct 2014 11:46:06 -0400 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Giants Edged by KC, Down 2-1 in WS]]> Sat, 25 Oct 2014 01:12:24 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/180*120/457810112.jpg

Sparkling defense, a stingy bullpen and just enough timely hitting. That same winning formula of fundamental baseball put the Kansas City Royals on top in the World Series.

The San Francisco Giants were edged by the Kansas City Royals 3-2 in Game 3 of the World Series and are now down 2-1 in the best of seven.

Down 3-0 in the sixth inning, the Giants rallied for two runs on a Michael Morse double and a Buster Posey groundout, but the Royals bullpen shut out the Giants for the final three innings.

But Jeremy Guthrie outpitched fellow Series newcomer Tim Hudson and four Royals relievers combined on four hitless innings, as Kansas City beat the San Francisco.

"This is the way our games have gone all year,'' said Royals manager Ned Yost, who made several lineup changes that paid off. "I'm getting really good at protecting a one-run lead because a lot of times that's exactly what we have to deal with.

"But I have the necessary tools to be able to do that. It's not me doing it. It's the guys that we put out there that are doing it. We have the type of pitchers in our bullpen that can accomplish that,'' he said.

Alex Gordon hit a run-scoring double and Lorenzo Cain made two slick grabs in right field as the Royals backed Guthrie with nifty glove work. All night long, Kansas City looked perfectly comfortable playing in the tricky territory at unfamiliar AT&T Park.

Eric Hosmer had a sixth-inning RBI single on the 11th pitch of his at-bat against lefty Javier Lopez. It was the first World Series hit for Hosmer _ on his 25th birthday.

Cain drove in the first run with a groundout after Alcides Escobar's leadoff double in the first.

Game 4 is Saturday night, with right-hander Ryan Vogelsong scheduled to pitch for the Giants against lefty Jason Vargas.

"We've got to keep grinding. It's going to be a tough series,'' said Royals center fielder Jarrod Dyson, added to the starting lineup in Game 3.

Yost moved Cain from center field to right in place of Nori Aoki for a defensive boost in the expansive outfield at AT&T Park. Cain chased down Buster Posey's slicing line drive in the first for a pretty catch from his knees, then snagged Travis Ishikawa's sinking liner in the second.

Gordon was moved up from sixth to second in the lineup and came through with his RBI double following Escobar's single in the sixth.

On a night that began with a remembrance of late Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn, Kansas City produced just enough offense even without designated hitter Billy Butler. The Series shifted to AT&T Park and National League rules for three games.

The Giants had their six-game home winning streak in the World Series snapped. The unbeaten run dated to the 2002 wild-card club of Barry Bonds and Co. that lost in seven games to the Angels.

The Royals seemed unfazed by the fanfare and tough conditions in improving to 5-0 on the road this postseason. Of the first 56 times the World Series was tied 1-all, the Game 3 winner went on to win in 37 of those instances and four of the last five.

A cast of Giants Hall of Famers were celebrated on the field in a star-studded pregame featuring a "Play Ball!'' chant by Huey Lewis.

Pinch-hitter Michael Morse hit an RBI double with none out in the sixth to chase Guthrie. Yost turned it over to his fantastic bullpen, and Kelvin Herrera immediately walked Gregor Blanco.

With the hard-throwing Herrera clocking 99-101 mph on the radar gun, Joe Panik had a tough time attempting a sacrifice bunt. His high-bouncing grounder still did the trick to advance both runners, and Buster Posey pulled the Giants to 3-2 on a groundout.

Then, the Royals shut down San Francisco the rest of the way.

"I don't know if there's a better bullpen, because that seventh, eighth and ninth inning, and you get a tough go when you're facing those guys,'' Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "Hopefully you get some runs early, but Guthrie did a great job on us.''

Herrera worked 1 1-3 innings, rookie Brandon Finnegan got two outs in his World Series debut, and Wade Davis pitched a 1-2-3 eighth. Greg Holland got three quick outs for the save.

The four hitless innings of relief were the most in the World Series in 22 years.

"Our bullpen's been lights out. We've got 100 percent confidence in (those) guys getting their job done,'' Dyson said. "From an offensive standpoint, we're just trying to put runs on the board and get them in position.''

Guthrie, who attended nearby Stanford, retired 10 straight during one stretch and combined with Hudson to retire 20 in a row. That was the longest Series streak since the Yankees' Don Larsen and the Brooklyn Dodgers' Sal Maglie retired the first 23 batters during Larsen's perfect game in 1956, according to STATS.

"What a gutsy performance,'' Royals teammate James Shields said. ``He went out there and pitched his heart out. He did a phenomenal job.''

As a gorgeous Bay Area afternoon turned into a breezy night along the water, the 39-year-old Hudson left in the sixth to a rousing ovation from the orange towel-twirling sellout crowd.

Hudson waited 16 years for his first World Series chance only to watch Escobar hit the game's first pitch for a double. Escobar scored on Cain's groundout, and Hudson settled in nicely after the second. The right-hander retired 12 in a row before Escobar's one-out single through Hudson's legs in the sixth. Gordon followed with his RBI double.

GUTHRIE'S MARK

In a quirky stat, Guthrie became the fifth starting pitcher in World Series history to not record a walk or a strikeout through five innings and the first since Hall of Famer Greg Maddux in Game 2 of the 1996 Series for Atlanta against the Yankees.

UP NEXT

Royals: Vargas, an 11-game winner who pitched the ALCS clincher against Baltimore, attended Game 1 of the Giants' 2010 World Series at AT&T Park against Texas with his wife as a fan.

Giants: Vogelsong is the only pitcher to yield no more than one run in his first five postseason starts. That run ended in the NL Championship Series when Vogelsong allowed four runs in three innings of a no-decision against St. Louis. ... Bochy said he and pitching coach Dave Righetti discussed going with ace lefty Madison Bumgarner in Game 4 on short rest if trailing something they know he can handle physically despite his heavy workload.

The Giants will look to even up the series tomorrow with Ryan Vogelsong taking the hill.

Full Giants coverage here.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Jets-Bills Preview: Can Anyone Here Score?]]> Fri, 24 Oct 2014 09:30:09 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/455862256.jpg

I’m not sure what the point spread is for the upcoming Jets-Bills game at MetLife Stadium, but the over-under may well be in single digits. Neither team is putting many points on the board -- they’re two of only six NFL franchises averaging under 20 a game -- so recent history suggests it will likely be a low-scoring slugfest.

Of course, the fact that the Bills, at 4-3, have a better record than the 3-3 Seahwawks (among other teams) nearly halfway through the season tells you what recent history is worth.

The Bills come into Sunday’s game even more challenged on the offensive side of the ball than they’ve been to date. Their top two running backs, C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson, have been shelved with injuries, and, even worse for Buffalo’s long-suffering fans, Kyle Orton is healthy.

In his defense, Orton -- who replaced the disappointing E.J. Manuel at quarterback a few weeks back -- is doing what he’s done throughout his decade-long career: playing at a spectacularly unspectacular level but making few mistakes. On a team with a stout defense, that can be good enough to win, and the Bills appear to have just that.

Buffalo not only leads the league in sacks, with 24 through its first seven games, but has also been very tough against the run, yielding just 80 rushing yards a game and little more than three yards per attempt (which also tops the NFL). Just as Orton is much more capable as a clipboard-holding backup than a starting QB, Bills first-year defensive coordinator seems much better suited to an assistant’s role than to his previous incarnation as head coach of the Detroit Lions.

The Bills won’t make life easy for Geno Smith, who is said to be spending most of his time in Florham Park trying desperately not to get on new Jet Percy Harvin’s considerable bad side. But if offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg can find ways to get Harvin the ball in space, it may give the home team an edge it has lacked all season.

Meanwhile, after running a 12-day gauntlet featuring Philip Rivers, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady earlier this month, the Jets defense surely welcomes the chance to face off against Orton and the Bills’ depleted running attack.

In the end, though, it will likely come down to who wants it more, and the Bills are the clear favorite in that department because of what’s at stake. Somehow finding themselves in the playoff hunt, the visitors will surely see this matchup against the 1-6 Jets as a must-win. With the postseason all but mathematically out of reach for the home team, though, matching that urgency will be a Herculean task.  



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Giants' "Best" List Going Into Bye]]> Thu, 23 Oct 2014 09:17:16 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/tlmd_eli_manning_st.jpg

Welcome to the Giants’ Best, guaranteed to be the best thing you’re reading right now.

Best record in the NFC East: Doesn’t belong to the Giants.

Best reason for that: They’ve won fewer games than the Cowboys and Eagles.

Best reason for hope: There are nine games left.

Best record the Giants can hope for: 12-4.

Best believe it’s possible: If they win all nine games, their record will definitely be 12-4.

Best opportunity to spend quality time with your family: With the Giants on bye this week.

Best thing about the bye week: The Giants can’t lose this week.

Best thing beyond that: Nothing.

Best team that plays home games at MetLife Stadium: Not the Jets.

Best surprise from the first half of the season: Larry Donnell.

Best believe I’m fudging the numbers: The first half isn’t technically over till the Giants play their next game on Nov. 3 against the Colts.

Best passer rating of Eli Manning’s career: This year (96.8).

Best thing about the Giants’ new West Coast offense: Fewer interceptions.

Best believe it comes at an expense: Fewer big plays.

Best explanation for Prince Amukamara’s breakout season: He’s finally getting some, according to safety Antrel Rolle.

Best Giants offense: When Rashad Jennings is opening up running lanes, spreading the defense, and Manning is driving the ball downfield.

Best get healthy soon: Jennings.

Best statistic about the Giants’ defense: It leads the NFL in interceptions.

Best word for Giants’ turnover differential: Zero.

Best place for Mathias Kiwanuka: Apparently it’s the witness protection program.

Best stop fumbling: Larry Donnell.

Best step up: Other wide receivers now that Victor Cruz is out for the season.

Best find someone else to sign for the rental car: Rueben Randle is still only 23 years old.

Best not sit idly by: The Giants need to make an impact trade before next Tuesday’s trade deadline.

Best positions to upgrade: All of them, if possible.

Best possible upgrade at quarterback: Peyton Manning.

Best lay off the drugs, son: Yeah, the Broncos probably won’t be trading their quarterback.

Best Super Bowl record among the Manning brothers: Eli, 2-0.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[War of the Words: Battle Heats Up Between SF, KC Librarians]]> Wed, 22 Oct 2014 16:07:42 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Juan+Marichal+and+Dan+by+Jim+Hart.jpg

The war of words is heating up between two public libraries 1,500 miles apart, as dueling librarians do their part to boost their hometown baseball team's quest to win the World Series crown.

Sounding a bit Shakespearean, Liesl Christman, the Twitter czar for the Kansas City Public Library, tweeted on Wednesday morning, hours after the San Francisco Giants crushed the Royals in Game 1 on Tuesday, 7-1: "'Tis but a flesh wound - @Royals will rally! Tonight, #LetsThrowFire!"

If the Giants win it all, Christman promised Wednesday her library will buy and shelve San Rafael author Dan Fost's book, "The Giants Baseball Experience: A Year-by-Year Chronicle from New York to San Francisco."

If the Royals win, Christman hopes the San Francisco Public Library will be forced to stock George Brett's "From Here to Cooperstown," which is about the Royals, on its shelves.

Michelle Jeffers, the digital guru at the library in San Francisco, said she'd consider the request, but from what's she's heard, that book is out of print.

"Even better!" Jeffers joked, adding that under different circumstances she and Christman might be very good friends.

Then Jeffers tweeted: "Guess we'll see what happens tonight when the Giants shhhhhhh-ut you down in Game 2."

No one is happier about the librarian smack talk than Fost, a former San Francisco Chronicle reporter who is now a full-time author and freelance writer. Each time the Giants make it to the World Series – this is third time in five seasons – he is asked to write a new edition. "This is a mutually symbiotic relationship," he said on Wednesday.

As for the baseball book bet, Fost is also genuinely enthralled Kansas City readers may be flipping through pages he wrote.

"What a great idea to promote reading," he said. "I'm so moved."



Photo Credit: Jim Hart
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<![CDATA["Polite" Librarians Talk World Series Smack]]> Tue, 21 Oct 2014 17:59:38 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/lib-th.jpg

You know things are getting intense when public librarians start talking smack about the World Series.

In a series of back-and-forth tweets, the city librarians in San Francisco and Kansas City began taunting each other – with book titles, of course – over which team is going to win Game 1 of the World Series Tuesday, the Giants or the Royals.

"We're polite but fierce!" the San Francisco library tweeted. "Get ready to cry some blue tears for @Royals when @SFGiants take the win tonight."

Michelle Jeffers, the social media guru for the San Francisco library and the mastermind of the tweets, had an obvious answer for why she was dissing the Kansas City library 1,500 miles away.

"Well, they started it," she said with a laugh.

In fact, they did. At 11 a.m., the Kansas City Public Library, tweeted: "Hey @SFPublicLibrary we have a book for you!" The link showed this title: "So, You Think You Know Baseball? A Fan's Guide to the Offical Rules," by Peter E. Meltzer.

"What? They think we don't know the rules?" Jeffers joked.

Liesl Christman, the digital contest specialist at the Kansas City library, happily admitted to "starting it." And she said she chose the baseball rules book while flipping through the catalog, trying decide what bibliophile zinger to fling.

"Yeah, I was hoping to get a response," Christman said from Kansas City by phone. "I just didn't realize it was going to go on so long."

The Twitter tete-a-tete went on for so long, partly, because Jeffers wasn't going to take it lying down.

She shot back: "Thanks, but maybe you should read this." And she sent them a link to Dan Fost's book, "The Giants Baseball Experience: A Year-by-Year Chronicle from New York to San Francisco."

Kansas City took aim again, pointing out that the Giants haven't always been in San Francisco - the team was once a favorite in the Big Apple. Christman tweeted a stack of "fairy tale" books with the hashtag #TaketheCrown.

Jeffers fired off another dig, albeit a courteous one, simply stating that the Giants history has been amazing "coast to coast."

"I didn't want to diss them too bad," Jeffers said. "I was trying to be polite because we're librarians here."


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<![CDATA[Cowboys Waive Michael Sam]]> Tue, 21 Oct 2014 16:37:30 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/GERRY_MCCARTHY__1409761483_39578161-620x503.jpg

The Dallas Cowboys have waived defensive end Michael Sam, the NFL's first openly-gay player, from the team's practice squad.

Sam, 24, joined the Cowboys on Sept. 3 after being cut from the Rams. He was drafted by St. Louis in the 7th round and totaled nine tackles and three sacks in three preseason games before being cut by the Rams. 

He never played in a game for the Cowboys and the team has not released a statement on his departure.

After the announcement, Sam tweeted thanks to team owner Jerry Jones for the opportunity, as well as friends, family, teammates and fans.  He added he was disappointed, but looked forward to fight for an opportunity to play every Sunday in the NFL.

According to DallasCowboys.com, the release of Sam makes room for linebacker Troy Davis who worked out with the team Monday.

Sam is a Texas native who played high school football at Hitchcock High School before playing for Missouri.  While at Missouri, he was named SEC Co-Defensive Player of the Year and had 11 1/2 sacks in the 2013 season.

The 6-1 Cowboys are off to their best start since 2007 when then finished the regular season at 13-3.  Monday night they'll face an NFC East rival, the 2-5 Washington Redskins, in Arlington.



Photo Credit: Gerry McCarthy / Dallas Morning News Staff Photographer
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<![CDATA[Harvin's Here, But Jets Still Lack Playmakers]]> Tue, 21 Oct 2014 15:10:15 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/percy+harvin+chargers+seahawks.jpg

I don’t have much to add on Percy Harvin, since more has been written over the past few days about the Jets trade for the enigmatic receiver than the Ebola scare. I will say this -- the general consensus seems to be that it’s basically a no-lose proposition for the Jets, given the fact that all they’re giving up in return is a likely fourth-round draft choice. Wasn’t that also the conventional wisdom when Tim Tebow came to town a few years back? How’d that one work out for Gang Green?

For what it’s worth, I like the Harvin deal. It is a low risk move, and he’s the kind of playmaker the team sorely needs. If only he played cornerback and returned punts.

Undoubtedly, the Jets offense has been subpar to date. Their red zone numbers have been deleted here because we’re prohibited from printing obscenities. Geno Smith has been one of the worst quarterbacks in the NFL, his receiving corps has dropped far too many balls, and the offense’s strong point -- the running attack -- has been underutilized because the Jets so frequently need to come from behind in a hurry.

But what about the defense? Where are the playmakers on that side of the ball? Muhammad Wilkerson and Sheldon Richardson are likely the team’s two best players, and they’ve consistently gotten pressure on opposing QBs over the course of the season, as has the entire Jets front line. The team’s 20 sacks through seven games are near the top of the league.

But how many times has that pressure led to a game-changing interception? Just once, when the San Diego game was still a contest and Philip Adams made a touchdown-saving play in the end zone. Then again, can you really call anything a game-changer in a 31-point loss? And, astonishingly, that was the Jets’ only INT of the year. That number looks almost embarrassed when you put it up against the 18 passing TDs the team has surrendered so far. Both of those rank last in the NFL, as do the three turnovers they’ve forced. Talk about a lack of playmaking.

And when the Jets make a stop on D, they all but kill any positive momentum from it with their putrid punt return game. They’ve returned 20 punts so far this year, for a total of 84 yards. Some teams have outdone that on a single return. The Jets’ longest return this season is 15 yards. In other words, through nearly have the year, they’ve haven’t broken one yet.

Harvin is a major talent. But unless he’s planning on playing defense and special teams too -- and remember, this is a guy who can get hurt sending a text (not too mention fighting with teammates) --he’ll be hard-pressed to turn around the Jets’ sorry season.
 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[With Hollins Running Nets, Kidd Stuff is Over]]> Thu, 23 Oct 2014 14:20:18 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/lionell-hollins-brooklyn-nets.jpg

The Nets’ new coach hasn’t purposely spilled soda on the Barclays Center court to stop a game. Nor has he gone behind his boss’ back to try to gain more power and influence with the team’s owner, Mikhail Prokhorov.

For sheer drama, Lionel Hollins will never be confused with Jason Kidd.

And that’s good.

Amateur hour in Brooklyn ended with Kidd’s failed power play and abrupt exile to Milwaukee last summer, and with the arrival of Hollins, a pro’s pro who isn’t out to get GM Billy King’s job.

Hollins did not arrive in Brooklyn with the splash that accompanied Kidd, the greatest player in the franchise’s mostly-lean NBA years. But the Nets got a whole lot more stable, tons more professional and far better on the sidelines when they turned to the man who helped transform the Memphis Grizzlies into a defensive force and Western Conference power.

While Kidd on Monday night was over in the Garden, attempting to explain how he managed to bungle his way to one of the league’s deader franchises, Hollins was leading the Nets against the Sixers in Barclays Center.

He’s still trying to figure out what he has, so he’s experimenting with different lineups and looks.
He didn’t have Kevin Garnett, out again with the stomach bug he picked up during the team’s recent trip to China, and Hollins probably has little idea what the future Hall of Famer can give him after he brought very little from Boston last season.

He didn’t have Brook Lopez, out again with yet another foot injury, and he can’t be sure whether his 7-foot center can stay healthy after another lost season. He’s had Deron Williams for pre-season, but there’s no telling whether his playmaker will stop pounding the ball and start turning his career around.

But if anyone can figure it out, it’s probably Hollins, a former championship guard on Bill Walton’s great Portland team of 1977.

“Out of all the things he does well, he puts people right where they belong,’’ said Brett Brown, the Sixers coach who was a long-time assistant in San Antonio when the Spurs and Hollins’ Grizzlies staged regular wars in the Southwest Division and met twice in the playoffs in a three-year span.

After the final time the Spurs and Grizzlies banged heads in the post-season, with San Antonio sweeping the Grizzlies in the 2013 West Finals that included two overtime games, Hollins was unceremoniously dumped.

It didn’t matter that he had taken the Grizzlies further than they had ever gone in the post-season. An old-school coach who sometimes runs a game by “gut and feel,’’ his ideas ran counter to those of his bosses, who placed an emphasis on analytics and statistical-based X’s and O’s.

“When he got out of it, you just wondered how soon somebody would scoop him up, because he’s a quality human being and a real person and a hell of a coach,’’ Brown said. “I watched him for years and you could tell how solid his teams were. He was never underrated by those of us in the Spurs locker room, starting with Pop (VP-coach Gregg Popovich). His teams were always tough and defensive-minded. With the veteran roster Brooklyn has, he’s a natural to come in and do what he did in Memphis.’’

He’s been exactly as advertised, holding players accountable right from the start, as when he told Lopez via the media that he had to “play tougher’’ and “be a force in the paint’’ this season.

“No question, he doesn’t hold his tongue for anybody,’’ said one of the team’s new additions, Jarrett Jack.” The thing I like about him is, he tells you like it is. If it’s a situation where you need to be corrected, he doesn’t hold back. Whether it’s me or (Garnett) or D-Will (Williams), one through 15. When it comes from the top down, you have to respect that.’’

How it all plays out, we’ll see. But at least with Hollins on board, the Kidd stuff in Brooklyn is officially over.
 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Sayreville Marching Band Wins Championship Amid Hazing Scandal]]> Tue, 21 Oct 2014 07:47:55 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/SAYREVILLE_MARCHING_BAND.JPG

Even with the remainder of Sayreville War Memorial High School's football season canceled amid a hazing scandal, its marching band has been playing on and winning competitions. 

The band won the Tournament of Band New Jersey State Championship in its class in Toms River Saturday.

The competition featured 25 of the state's best marching bands, and Sayreville beat neighboring Metuchen High School by seven-tenths of a point to win the the title. 

Sayreville's football team has been mired in a hazing scandal this fall that's resulted in the arrests of seven players, the suspension of its coaches and the cancellation of the season.  

The case has put a spotlight on the town, known for its successful football program and for being the hometown of singer Jon Bon Jovi, and the way that school districts handle hazing and bullying allegations.

]]>
<![CDATA[Hero, Nero, Zero in Giants-Cowboys Game]]> Mon, 20 Oct 2014 09:27:38 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/457509642.jpg

Welcome to Hero, Nero, Zero for Week 7 as we honor people for their accomplishments, insanity and ineptitude.

Hero: DeMarco Murray.

I’m tempted to hand this honor to Cowboys backup running back Joseph Randle, who was arrested for shoplifting underwear last week and then parlayed that into a sponsorship deal with an underwear company. What does this say about our country and the way that people’s minds work?

But no, we won’t go that route.

Murray just became the first running back to surpass 100 yards rushing in the first seven games of a season, and he rolled over the Giants with 128 yards and 1 touchdown on 28 carries. He deserves the Hero award, so here you go, DeMarco – but wait, who is that?!? OMG, Joseph Randle has stolen the award from Murray and is making a getaway!

Nero: Jerry Jones.

Whenever the Giants play the Cowboys, there’s no shortage of craziness. This week was no different, with Tony Romo saying Jason Witten is the greatest Cowboy of all time and Randle getting arrested for stealing underwear and cologne. Both those were game week distractions, not mid-game distractions, i.e., the sun pouring through the open shutters on the western end of AT&T Stadium as the sun set in the late afternoon, blinding players, fans, cameramen, concessionaires and basically anyone facing west.

Mind you, AT&T Stadium is technically an indoor stadium, but some genius (who also doubles as the Cowboys owner and general manager) signed off on an architectural plan that has the stadium oriented east-west. This wouldn’t be a problem if the stadium didn’t have windows that some genius (ibid) decided to leave open during Sunday's game.

As the announcers made clear, it was Jerry Jones’ call whether the windows were shuttered or not. He chose to leave them open, and while it didn’t lead directly to any blindness-induced turnovers on the field, fans paying several hundred dollars couldn’t have been happy to take in the Texas sunset in lieu of seeing the actual game.

Zero: Giants playing this week.

Yup, the Giants are on a bye next Sunday, so that means it’s time for the players and coaches to make some mid-season adjustments. One week after getting trounced by the Eagles, the Giants played much better against Dallas, but simply couldn’t find a way to stop the Cowboys’ offense late in the game. Here are some things players can work on during their bye week:

Odell Beckham Jr. and his touchdown dance: Beckham now has three touchdown receptions in his first three games, and has celebrated each time by apparently jumping into the driver’s seat of his parents’ car while they ran into the convenience store and then hopping back out before they caught him play-driving.

Larry Donnell and his penchant for fumbling the ball: Donnell led the Giants in receiving yesterday with seven catches for 90 yards, but he had two fumbles – including one with just over 11 minutes left in the game, with the Giants only trailing by seven points. Four plays later, Murray punched it in and the Cowboys were up 14. The Giants later closed it to 7, but they never again had the ball with an opportunity to tie the game.

Eli Manning and his penchant for not throwing interceptions: That was the third straight game in which Eli has not thrown an interception, two of them losses, and Giants fans are confused because they’re not sure who to blame. It was much easier when the team lost and Manning threw some godawful picks, but now he’s being smarter with the ball and demanding that fans be more sophisticated in their criticism. This will not stand!
 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Football Coaches Suspended as Hazing Details Emerge: Reports]]> Mon, 20 Oct 2014 20:39:33 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/sayreville+football.jpg

The coaches at the New Jersey high school that had its football season canceled amid hazing allegations that led to the arrests of seven players have been suspended, according to NJ.com.

The Sayreville High School coaches were not at school Friday and have been suspended with pay, a source familiar with the decision told the website. The decision comes weeks after the district moved to cancel the season amid a Middlesex County prosecutor’s investigation into alleged hazing at the school, which prosecutors said could be considered sexual assaults that were "pervasive."

Five of the suspended coaches, including head coach George Najjar, are tenured teachers, the source told NJ.com. Several others are substitutes. The Sayreville school board is expected discuss and possibly vote on the suspensions Tuesday at its regularly scheduled meeting.

The seven players who were arrested have also been suspended from school. They face charges ranging from hazing and conspiracy to sexual contact and aggravated sexual assault.

The coaches' suspensions come as more details of the alleged locker room abuses at the school surface. In a New York Times report Sunday, several of the players who either saw the alleged hazing attacks or say they were victims recalled in detail what happened.

The witnesses, who weren’t identified by name, described a boisterous locker room environment that took a dark turn over a 10-day period in September, when all four alleged hazing incidents occurred.

The freshmen who spoke to the Times said that during the attacks, older players would come into the locker room shouting “hootie hoo” before flicking the lights on and off and tripping one of the them over. In one case, two older players held a boy down by his arms while players punched, kicked and groped him, according to the report.

The three victims who spoke to the Times varied slightly on their accounts of the hazing. All three said they were wearing football pants, and accounts of the gropings ranged from poking or grabbing of the buttocks to penetration. Of the three victims, two said the hazing wasn't a big deal -- and that what happened was part of team bonding.

Several other freshmen who witnessed the attacks told the Times that they saw the hazing differently. Some said they rushed to change after practice or avoided showering to make it out of the locker room before the varsity team finished practice.

“They think they’re joking around, but I don’t think it was a joke,” a witness to the first attack told the newspaper. “I said, ‘This is nasty.' ”

Several of the freshmen also told the Times that they have become the targets of backlash on social media and in school from other students upset that the football season was canceled.

The backlash “made me want to shoot myself,” one player told the Times.

The case has put a spotlight on the town, known for its successful football program and for being the hometown of singer Jon Bon Jovi, and the way that school districts handle hazing and bullying allegations. 

Other schools have taken similar measures in the wake of the allegations in Sayreville. Last week, Wyandanch High School on Long Island suspended five players in a bullying investigation. That team continued its season.

Over the weekend, an Orange County, New York, school canceled its junior varsity football team's season over bullying allegations.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Best of NFL: Week 7]]> Sun, 19 Oct 2014 23:38:23 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/457509990.jpg Don't miss the most dramatic images from the seventh week of the 2014 NFL season.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Carmelo Anthony Helps Teachers ]]> Fri, 17 Oct 2014 21:34:08 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/WNBC_000000005118330_1200x675_344280643678.jpg Knicks Superstar Carmelo Anthony is known for his brilliant scoring ability. But Thursday in Midtown, he was credited with an amazing assist. It was the Carmelo Anthony Foundation's Tools for Teachers Initiative. The Red Hook, Brooklyn native handed out much needed school supplies to 250 teachers from all 5 boroughs. 4,000 underprivileged kids will benefit from the program which aids teachers in providing the best education possible. Anthony talks about the initiative and also tells Bruce Beck how Phil Jackson's personal challenge for him to become a better player, has lit a fire under him.]]> <![CDATA["War Machine" Attempts Suicide: PD]]> Sat, 18 Oct 2014 13:54:24 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/War-Machine-vegas-MMA.jpg

A professional mixed martial arts fighter accused of beating his porn star ex-girlfriend and one of her male friends tried to commit suicide in a Las Vegas jail, authorities said.

Jonathan "War Machine" Koppenhaver, 32, was found Tuesday in a cell at the Clark County Detention Center sitting on the floor with his feet resting on the bunk, Las Vegas Metropolitan police said in a statement.

The officer noticed what appeared to be a torn piece of linen around his neck that was tied to the leg of his bunk, police said.

The officer called to Koppenhaver several times, but he did not respond, according to police. When the officer went inside the cell he noticed that Koppenhaver was struggling to breathe, police said.

The officer cut the ligature from Koppenhaver’s neck and his breathing became less strained and he started to speak, police said.

Koppenhaver was moved to a medical isolation cell, where he was placed on suicide watch.

Police said they found a suicide note inside Koppenhaver’s cell.

Koppenhaver, a former porn actor, was booked into Clark County jail in August.

He's accused of beating adult film actress Christy Mack and her male friend at a Las Vegas home on Aug. 8 before fleeing to the Los Angeles suburb of Simi Valley, where he was arrested a week later.

Koppenhaver faces charges including attempted murder and dozens of assault counts.

Koppenhaver made his Ultimate Fighting Championship debut in 2007 and legally changed his name in 2008. He lost his only pay-per-view bout that same year.

He fought out of San Diego for a variety of promotions and had a 14-5 record as a welterweight. He lost his last fight, in Iowa, last October.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.



Photo Credit: Simi Valley Police/Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Jets Play Best Game of Year ... And Lose Again]]> Fri, 17 Oct 2014 13:45:00 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/tom-brady-geno-smith.jpg

Imagine if someone had actually covered Shane Vereen on the fifth play of Thursday night’s game. Not sure it would’ve mattered, given that the 49-yard touchdown pass from Tom Brady was so perfectly placed that it was as if the pigskin had a homing device targeting Vereen’s fingertips. But, had a Jet defender been in the vicinity, instead of lost in confusion half-a-field away, maybe things would’ve ended differently -- on the play, and in a game that the Jets should’ve won.

To say the Jets played the best game of their season at Gillette Stadium would be an understatement. On offense, they were formidable, racking up 28 first downs and 423 yards from scrimmage (almost evenly divided between the run and the pass), while controlling the ball for an absurd 41 minutes with -- get this -- nary a turnover. The visitors were so effective at moving the ball down the field that punter Ryan Quigley didn’t make an appearance until less than two minutes were left in the third quarter. On defense, they made Tom Brady -- arguably the best quarterback I’ve ever seen -- look merely very good while holding the home team to three-and-outs on five of their 10 possessions.

But in the end, Brady and the Pats were just good enough to get by with a 27-25 win, largely on the strength of that first-drive TD from Vereen and the game’s final play, when the Pats’ Chris Jones blocked Nick Folk’s 58-yard field goal attempt that would’ve given the Jets their biggest win in quite a while.

After essentially handcuffing Geno Smith in last week’s loss to the Broncos, Jets offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg seemed to set his QB loose, giving Smith the green light both to look downfield and to run if he saw an opening. The results were stunning. In short, Smith -- whom 99.9997 percent of the world’s population thinks should have been benched weeks ago for Michael Vick -- played his best game in more than a year.

Amid Smith’s well-documented struggles, it’s been easy to forget that, just two years ago, he was widely recognized as the best player in college football and the likely No. 1 pick in the 2013 NFL Draft (that was before his West Virginia squad followed a 5-0 start with a 2-7 finish). His performance Thursday night -- highlighted by two impressive drives in the last eight minutes -- made us remember.

At 1-6, it’s all but assured that the Jets won’t make the playoffs. But the game they played against the hated Pats proves that their season isn’t a lost cause.

]]>
<![CDATA[Van Gundy's Quick Fixes to Speed up the NBA]]> Fri, 17 Oct 2014 11:43:02 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/van-gundy-jeff.jpg

Jeff Van Gundy is as interested as any NBA fan in seeing whether the league’s 44-minute test-game Sunday in Brooklyn is going to have the desired effect by enhancing the flow of play in the final minutes.

“I agree with the sentiment,’’ the former Knicks coach told me this week. “It’s certainly worthwhile to ponder this issue, especially in this country of shortened attention spans. You never want to become boring. So something needs to be done.’’

The NBA is keenly aware of that, so when the Nets host the Celtics in a pre-season game that would ordinarily provide almost no compelling storyline, they’re going to shorten every quarter by one minute.

But the biggest change will be to eliminate one of three mandatory timeouts in the fourth quarter that have slowly morphed into the league’s double-edged sword.

On the plus side, timeouts mean more TV commercials and billions of dollars in revenue for the league, which recently signed a new nine-year TV contract for a record $2.66 billion per season.

On the minus side, numerous timeouts down the stretch of playoff games, in particular, also mean bringing games to a screeching halt, making them culprits, along with TV replays and the customary inordinate number of fouls. The last two minutes of games can last a lifetime.

“When you’re coaching, you really don’t notice it as much,’’ Van Gundy said. “But when you watch it on TV, it is just beyond comprehension.’’

Van Gundy, who will again provide entertaining and expert analysis this season for ABC/ESPN, has some solutions for picking up the pace at the end of games. He is in favor of doing away with TV replay, almost entirely. He’s also for outlawing the practice of fouling to extend games, and also favors allowing teams to call timeouts only to advance the ball, but otherwise making them obsolete for long stoppages by banning teams from huddling up.

“NHL games in the last two minutes never stop, other than for an icing call,’’ he said. “You don’t see them replaying stuff. That’s what we need to do. I know people are saying, 'Well, we can’t cut a timeout, because it’s going to cost us money.’ But you know what? Look at this next TV contract we have and look how it’s going to make everybody plenty of money. How about we go with the concept of giving back to the fan? By cutting a timeout, we’ll be doing that and we would also be helping to keep the flow of the game going.’’

It’s all about doing that, even though the fallout from the league’s announcement to try the 44-minute game quickly turned in the usual argument: How the NBA has to shorten its regular season, which will start in less than two weeks and runs through April 15.

LeBron James, whose voice carries more weight than any other player, is in favor of playing fewer games to help preserve players.

"It's not the minutes, it's the games," he told reporters before the Cavs’ victory over the Pacers on Wednesday. "The minutes don't mean anything. We all as players think it's too many games. In our season, 82 games is a lot.''

But 82 was never too many for Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson or Michael Jordan, just to name a few immortals who came before James. The NBA has used its 82-game schedule since 1967-68 and there’s a lot of important history tied to that number.

“As a player, I never thought 82 games was an issue,’’ Jordan, the Charlotte owner, told ESPN.com. “But if that's what they want to do (shorten the season), we as owners and players can evaluate it and talk about it. But we'd make less money as partners. Are they ready to give up money to play fewer games? That's the question, because you can't make the same amount of money playing fewer games.''

On this debate, we’ll side with Jordan. There’s nothing wrong with playing 82 games. It’s just the interminable endings that we can do without.

Longtime New York columnist Mitch Lawrence continues to write about pro basketball, as he’s done for the last 21 years. His columns for NBCNewYork.com on the Knicks, Brooklyn Nets and the NBA, along with other major sports, will appear twice weekly. Follow him on Twitter.
 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Fact vs. Fiction, Giants-Cowboys]]> Fri, 17 Oct 2014 15:00:14 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/457124394.jpg

Welcome to Week 7 of the NFL season, as the Giants attempt to recover from a brutal 27-0 loss to the Eagles by traveling to Dallas to beat a 5-1 Cowboys team that just defeated Seattle on the road and is feeling very Cowboy-like about themselves.

Are the Giants really as bad as they seemed last week? Are the Cowboys really as good? Let’s separate fact from fiction in advance of this key NFC East matchup.

Fact: Dallas plays in the NFC East.
Fiction: Dallas is in the eastern section of the United States.

Fact: Most people expected the Cowboys to be awful this year.
Fiction: The Cowboys have played to expectations.

Fact: The Giants are a Jekyll & Hyde team.
Fiction: You can predict which version will show up this week.

Fact: Dallas running back DeMarco Murray is leading the league in rushing and is on pace to set a record for most rushing attempts.
Fiction: That bodes well for his long-term health.

Fact: The Giants’ medical staff prepped the team about how to protect themselves against the Ebola virus, which claimed the life of one man in Dallas and has infected at least two nurses.
Fiction: No Giants’ fans will be at the game carrying signs that joke about Ebola.

Fact: Cowboys backup running back Joseph Randle was arrested this week for shoplifting underwear and cologne.
Fiction: That’s normal for a guy who makes $495,000.

Fact: Two-time Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning is going to the Hall of Fame someday.
Fiction: So is Tony Romo.

Fact: People still often refer to the Giants as the New York Football Giants.
Fiction: That has been remotely necessary since the baseball Giants left for San Francisco in 1957.

Fact: ESPN ranks Phil Simms as the No. 9 Giant ever, with Eli Manning No. 15.
Fiction: That makes sense.

Fact: The Giants and the Cowboys have only faced off in the playoffs one time (2007).
Fiction: That was when Tony Romo earned his only career playoff win.

Fact: Dallas owner Jerry Jones has also been the Cowboys general manager since 1994.
Fiction: He is going to see the light one of these days and fire himself as GM.

Fact: If you’re a Yankees fan and you’re not from the New York Tri-State area, then you’re probably a Cowboys fan, too.
Fiction: This doesn’t make you a frontrunner.

Fact: The Cowboys have won five games in a row.
Fiction: You would be surprised if they were one and done in the playoffs.

Fact: Dez Bryant set the ESPN Sport Science record by diving more than 20 feet horizontally onto an indoor mat as he caught a touchdown pass.
Fiction: I can dive 2 feet horizontally without ending up in the ER.

Fact: Cowboys fans have been coming out of the woodwork, especially after last week’s victory over the reigning Super Bowl champion Seahawks.
Fiction: Cowboys fans totally believe in this team.

Fact: Giants tight end Larry Donnell burst on the scene with three touchdowns against the Redskins a few weeks ago.
Fiction: Donnell has had more than one catch since.
 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Giants Should Honor Cruz With Salsa Celebration]]> Thu, 16 Oct 2014 14:36:58 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/455446194.jpg

The NFL, it’s often said, stands for the No Fun League, as it looks with a gimlet eye toward such threats to our children as group touchdown celebrations and using the football as a prop. Gone are the days when Washington's Fun Bunch jumped en masse for a high five to celebrate a touchdown (which is too bad) and gone are the days when a celebrating player gets down on his knees and performs mock CPR on a football (which is the kind of tasteless potentiality that exists when you give players carte blanche).

But ya know what’s not outlawed? Touchdown celebration dances like Victor Cruz’s salsa, which unfortunately we will not be seeing from No. 80 again this year following last week’s season-ending knee injury.

I have to admit, the first time I saw Cruz celebrate with his patented dance several years ago, I thought it was too cute by half. Not only did he look, well, a little non-masculine, but it immediately summoned the old saw “act like you’ve been there before.”

For years, I thought the gold standard for NFL touchdown celebrations was set by Barry Sanders, who would cross the goal line, flip the ball to the referee and then head for the sidelines. No pomp and circumstance, no CPR, no merengue (or whatever Barry dances to in the privacy of his own home). That isn’t to say I didn’t enjoy it when Butch Johnson dropped to his knees after a touchdown and gunned people down with his six-shooting fingers, or when the Fun Bunch jumped to slap hands. But then me-first prima donnas like Terrell Owens started carrying Sharpies in their socks, and the impromptu celebrations now seemed mostly canned and rehearsed.

“Look at me, look at me!”

No, thanks.

When Victor Cruz burst onto the scene in 2011, with 1,536 receiving yards and nine touchdowns, he started celebrating his scores by dancing the salsa. I was hardly the only one who wasn’t impressed. Not because of bad technique -- my dance sources tell me his form is nearly flawless -- but because the whole exercise struck me as obnoxious and self-serving. I didn’t know the back story, which I didn’t learn until 2012, when 49ers defensive back Carlos Rogers intercepted a pass intended for Cruz and celebrated by doing the salsa.

I thought that was hilarious.

Cruz did not share that sentiment, and I soon learned why: He danced the salsa after scoring touchdowns as a tribute to his late grandmother, who had taught him the dance and loved to see him perform it.

*Gulp*

Rogers changed his tune, saying he didn’t realize that Cruz did the dance as a show of respect for his grandmother. I had a change of heart, too. Something that struck me as obnoxious and non-masculine now struck me as respectful and non-masculine.

After Cruz’s recent injury, Giants teammates were shaken, disturbed by a fluke injury to a player who had been undrafted out of college and had earned the respect of his peers by persevering. This week, the idea was floated that several players would honor Cruz in this week’s game against the Cowboys by writing No. 80 on their sneakers. And if Odell Beckham Jr., Rueben Randle or Preston Parker manage to score a touchdown, the possibility exists that they’ll honor Cruz by dancing the salsa.

The only people who wouldn’t enjoy that are Cowboys fans and people with no souls.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Jets-Pats Preview: Brady Probable, As Is New England Win]]> Wed, 15 Oct 2014 12:12:39 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Pat-Jets-Preview-Geno-Tom.jpg

If the Jets are to secure a playoff spot by winning eight or nine of their remaining 10 games, the fact that Tom Brady’s name appears on the Patriots weekly injury report certainly gets things off to a promising start… except that Brady, who’s listed as “probable,” has about as good a chance of missing Thursday night’s game at Gillette Stadium as the Jets have of Joe Namath suiting up for them at QB.

Brady probably couldn’t beat the 71-year-old Namath in a race, especially now that the Pats QB is hobbled by an ankle injury he incurred before last week’s 37-22 win against the Bills.

The ankle obviously wasn’t much of an impediment in that game, though, when Brady completed 73 percent of his passes and threw for four touchdowns to his usual no-name crew of receivers (if you’ve got Tim Wright, Brian Tyms or Brandon LaFell, who rang up 2 TDs, on your fantasy team, I meant no offense).

The Jets would stand a much better chance against their archrivals if Brady’s malady was, say, a severed right hand. Were that the case, I’m confident the home team would be favored by no more than 3.

Still, this Patriots team is far from the juggernaut of years past. Brady will play, but two key players won’t: Stevan Ridley, the team’s top rusher and linebacker Jerod Mayo, the Pats’ defensive leader, both recently suffered season-ending injuries.

Even with Mayo and Ridley, the 4-2 Pats showed plenty of cracks in their armor. Remember, those two losses were by a combined 40 points to the so-so Kansas City Chiefs and the not-quite-so-so Miami Dolphins.

New England’s defense appears to be the usual Scotch-tape job Bill Belichick has patched together in recent years, with one very notable exception — lining up at cornerback for the Pats is the greatest Jet of the past four decades (lot of love for Broadway Joe this week), Darrelle Revis. Rex Ryan said earlier in the week that seeing Revis in a Pats uniform makes him sick to his stomach. Imagine how it makes Geno Smith feel.

On the other side of the ball, the Jets will surely have a hard time covering all-world tight end Rob Gronkowski, whose name—miraculously enough—doesn’t appear anywhere on the injury report. But then again, no defense in the NFL can effectively handle a healthy Gronk.

However, facing an even-more immobile than usual Brady and a Ridley-less running attack, the Jets D should be able to apply consistent pressure. It likely won’t be enough to emerge from Foxboro with a win, but that’ll just mean they have to go 8-1 (or, better yet, 9-0) the rest of the way.
 



Photo Credit: AP Photo]]>
<![CDATA[Randle Faces Shoplifting Charge]]> Tue, 14 Oct 2014 20:31:13 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/joseph-randle-mugshot-inset.jpg

Frisco police say they arrested Dallas Cowboys running back Joseph Randle for allegedly shoplifting $123 in underwear and cologne Monday night at Stonebriar Centre Mall.

According to police, Randle, 22, was stopped by Dillards loss prevention employees and detained at about 8:15 p.m. after they saw him make a purchase at a counter and then walk to another part of the store where he allegedly put a tester bottle of Gucci Guilty Black cologne ($84) and a 2-pack of black Polo underwear ($39.50) into his Dillards bag.

When he left the store and into the parking lot, he was stopped by store employees.

After Frisco police compared the contents of Randle's Dillards bag with his receipt and watched surveillance footage of him in the store, he was placed under arrest on a Class B misdemeanor for theft between $50 and $500 and put into a Frisco police car.

While there, the officer said Randle said if he knew he was going to be arrested he would have just kept walking to his car.

According to the police report, Randle told officers that he didn't pay for the merchandise because he did not want to take the time to do it.

After being booked into jail, Randle posted $350 bond and was released at about 1:20 a.m. Tuesday.

Randle, a second-year player out of Oklahoma State who was drafted by the Cowboys in the fifth round of the 2013 NFL Draft, is a backup running back for the team. In six games this season, Randle has carried the ball 16 times for 113 yards. In 2013, the back carried the ball 54 times in 13 games for a total of 164 yards.

According to RotoWorld, in 2013 Randle signed a four-year $2.39 million contract that included a $188,820 signing bonus.  His base salary in 2014 is $495,000. He is set to make $585,000 in 2015, $675,000 in 2016 and is a free agent in 2017.

At this time, there has been no statement from the Dallas Cowboys.

NBC 5's Catherine Ross contributed to this report.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News
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<![CDATA[Shaq: Knicks Need Two Superstars for Triangle Success]]> Tue, 14 Oct 2014 12:37:35 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/215*120/AP390534388460.jpg

There were times when he played for Phil Jackson that Shaquille O’Neal took the Zen Master’s triangle offense and smashed it to pieces.

“They’d want me to pass to someone in the corner, that’s where the ball was supposed to go, and I’d say, 'the heck with this -- I’m going to the bleepin’ basket!’ ’’ Shaq told me not long ago. “I did that more than a few times.' ’’

He diverted from Jackson’s game plan and got away with it because no one could attack the basket and dominate like Shaq. But that doesn’t mean that Carmelo Anthony should start taking any cues from the NBA legend and start veering off on his own, as he plays in the triangle for the first time.
How’s it all going to work out for Anthony, Derek Fisher, the Knicks’ rookie coach, and, ultimately Jackson himself, as he tries his hand at building an NBA team for the first time?

Of course it’s way too early to know, with the Knicks only at square one, as evidenced by their 81-76 pre-season loss in the Garden on Monday night to the Toronto Raptors, one of several teams they will be chasing this season. From the looks of it, they could use an on-court leader or two and the roster still has to be significantly upgraded if Jackson is going to make Garden CEO Jim Dolan look like a genius for paying him $60 million and getting out of the way, at least temporarily, to make everything right for once. As one team official conceded, “our coaches know way more about the triangle than our players do.’’

After that, O’Neal thinks he knows what’s needed.

“For the triangle to work, you need to have two superstars,’’ he said. “It’s been proven over time. Look at what Phil needed to win his championships in Chicago. Then look what he had in L.A., with me and Kobe. You have to have two superstars playing in the triangle to win championships.’’

At least Anthony just got paid like a superstar, re-signing for $124 million when he had a better chance to win right away in Chicago or Houston. But his lack of success in the post-season means that the Knicks might still be two superstars away from delivering their success-starved fans their first championship since 1973. Great regular-season scorer? Yes, Anthony, 30, is undeniably that.

But when he recently called himself the “most underrated superstar’’ in the NBA, he must have blanked on his dismal playoff history, with only two trips out of the first round in 10 tries. Not exactly the resume of a superstar.

“He’s still young enough to have some great years ahead of him,” Jackson said during a Q&A. “He’s just touched the surface of his greatness.”

Sounds like pie-in-the-sky thinking from the Zen Master, but Jackson can afford to be upbeat because Anthony should be able to get the Knicks back to the post-season after last season’s flop, with 37 wins and a lottery finish that finished off Mike Woodson and had Dolan deciding that he needed to get out of the basketball end of Garden business, until further notice. Once you get past LeBron James’ Cleveland Cavaliers and Derrick Rose’s Chicago Bulls, the next six playoff spots in the Eastern Conference should be in play.

“With Melo and J.R. Smith, they’re too good not to be in the playoffs,’’ Toronto coach Dwane Casey said. “The triangle is going to help their other players as much as it helps those two.’’

But the triangle will only get the Knicks so far. As Shaq knows from experience, it’s all about the superstars who will make the system go.

Longtime New York columnist Mitch Lawrence continues to write about pro basketball, as he’s done for the last 21 years. His columns for NBCNewYork.com on the Knicks, Brooklyn Nets and the NBA, along with other major sports, will appear twice weekly. Follow him on Twitter @Mitch _ Lawrence.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Report Links GoPro to Brain Injury]]> Tue, 14 Oct 2014 20:12:17 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/AP886669197394.jpg

The French commentator whose reported remarks had sparked reports that a GoPro camera may have played a role in Formula 1 racing legend Michael Schumacher's brain injury is now urging everyone to "stop all speculation."

Schumacher, 45, has been immobile and unable to speak after he fell and hit a rock in a skiing accident last year while he was wearing a GoPro camera mounted on his helmet.

European news outlets had reported that racing commentator Jean-Louis Moncet told Europe 1 radio that Schumacher's son Mick told him the placement of the camera contributed to the brain injury — but Moncet denied that Tuesday on Twitter.

"The problem for Michael was not the hit, but the mounting of the GoPro camera that he had on his helmet that injured his brain," Eurosport had earlier quoted Moncet as having said.

But Moncet appeared to contradict that suggestion in a tweet Tuesday.
"STOP ALL SPÉCULATION," he tweeted. "Mick could not say something about camera or injury of Michael because we did not speak together."
Following the initial report linking the GoPro to Schumacher's injury, shares of the Bay Area-based company plummeted, losing as much as 10 percent in trading Monday, Business Insider reported.

A GoPro spokesman declined to comment on the report linking the camera to Schumacher's injury but said the company was monitoring the situation closely.

Schumacher emerged from a medically-induced coma in June but remains in serious condition.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Air Force Captain Proposes to Cheerleader During Game]]> Tue, 14 Oct 2014 13:05:30 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/212*120/457130192.jpg

The Arizona Cardinals may have defeated the Washington Redskins on Sunday, but Cardinals cheerleader Claire Thorton, 23, was the big winner when her Air Force Captain boyfriend got down on one knee during a break in the game and proposed.

Eric Straub, 26, dressed in his flight suit, completed a successful mission when Thorton said “Yes!” in front of thousands of screaming NFL fans who watched the proposal on the stadium’s Jumbotron.


"It was pretty amazing,'' Thornton told TODAY.com. "I was shaking really bad. He's like 'Put the ring on!' And I'm like, you put it on me!'

Thorton thought that Straub, an F-15 pilot in the Air Force, was getting a special welcome home from the Cardinals during the game since he had just returned from a deployment in the Middle East the night before.

Meanwhile, the airman had already organized with Cardinals officials that he would propose to his cheerleader girlfriend when he came out on the field.


“It was so loud you couldn't hear anything. I had all these things I wanted to say, but once I got down on my knee, I had no idea what to say. I think all I said was, 'I love you marry me!' It was funny.''



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Giants Lay Egg Against Eagles]]> Mon, 13 Oct 2014 13:08:48 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/AP583404611673.jpg

Week Six is now in the books, and after the 27-0 loss to Philadelphia Sunday night, the Giants are right back where they were at the start of the season. They look clueless on offense and defense (though they aren’t), their special teams is mediocre (which is true), and they just lost their number one wide receiver, Victor Cruz, to a season-ending knee injury (which is why you have backups).

Are the Giants doomed? Of course not. Sunday night was a perfect storm of poor coaching -- a shotgun pass attempt on third and one on the opening drive? With Andre Williams and Peyton Hillis available?; poor play – too many instances to list; great play by the opposition – LeSean McCoy ran for 149 yards on 22 carries; and bad luck – Cruz blowing out his knee while planting on a catch attempt in the end zone.

As with any Giants-Eagles game, there were plenty of highlights and lowlights (including some Eagles fans, naturally), so let’s unveil our recipients for Hero, Nero, Zero, as we recognize the accomplishments, insanity and ineptitude associated with Sunday’s game.

Hero: The Eagles’ offensive line.

Wait, you ask, aren’t there five players on the offensive line? And if that’s the case, shouldn’t it be “heroes,” plural? Yes, there are five players on a typical offensive line, but a line’s success is measured by cohesion. It’s a unit. You might pancake the defensive end standing opposite you, but if the play called for you to pull and block an outside linebacker, then you are not a hero. You are a failure.

The Eagles’ line, which has been beset by numerous injuries this season, had been largely to blame for the team’s offensive woes through the first five weeks. Last year’s NFL leading rusher, McCoy, was averaging fewer than 3 yards per carry coming into Sunday’s game.

But McCoy busted out in a big way versus the G-Men, averaging nearly 7 yards per carry. Does he deserve some credit for that? Yes. But the offensive line deserves more. Not only did they open up lanes for McCoy, they protected quarterback Nick Foles, allowing just one sack all night.

Nero: The Eagles fans who stole a man’s prosthetic leg.

Eagles fans have a reputation for being world-class louts, and it’s largely deserved. From cheering when Cowboys Hall of Famer Michael Irvin went down with a career-ending neck injury to beating up fellow Philly fan Bradley Cooper in “Silver Linings Playbook,” Eagles fans have an unparalleled track record of dumb, sociopathic behavior.

The latest instance involves three Eagles fans who reportedly stole the prosthetic leg of a Vietnam veteran before Sunday night’s game. According to NBC Philadelphia,

Sonny Forriest Jr., an Eagles fan and musician who performs for money outside games, was singing in the parking lot around 8:30 p.m.

Forriest Jr., who began using a motorized wheelchair after losing his leg, said he had taken off his prosthetic leg during his performance. He was packing up his car to get going when a group of people danced around him.

"There were some friends who were partying with the leg, then they put it back," Forriest Jr. said.

As he continued to sing, Forriest Jr. said he was then approached by a woman in her 20's who was wearing Eagles gear.

“She jumped in my lap,” Forriest Jr. said. “She gripped my leg and I didn’t even know it. I looked down and she took my leg! Then she disappeared! A young lady came up, snatched my leg off my chair and took off!”

A conductor later located the leg on a train and police arranged to return it to Forriest. Meanwhile, Eagles fans remain the worst.

Zero: What went right for the Giants.

After scoring more than 30 points in three straight games, New York was shut out by Philadelphia, a team that allowed 28 points last week to Austin Davis and the vaunted Rams’ offense.

Eli Manning did not throw any interceptions, which is great for his passer rating. He also threw zero touchdowns, which is not good for his passer rating. Poor play calls, crippling penalties, fumbles on potentially big plays (Daniel Fells) and season-ending injuries – this is either going to be the game that breaks the 2014 Giants or the one that prompts players to step up and play bigger roles.

The Giants travel to Dallas to face a Cowboys team that just beat the defending Super Bowl champions on the road in Seattle. New York will need to score more than zero points to have any chance to beat Dallas.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Recap: Jets Look Good (Well, Better) in Loss to Broncos]]> Mon, 13 Oct 2014 10:55:49 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/peyton+metlife.jpg

Last week, it was Branden Oliver. This week, Ronnie Hillman. Against the Chargers, the Jets’ previously vaunted run defense turned Branden Oliver, who’d come into the game with 34 rushing yards on the season, into a 100-yard back. Being that Oliver repeated the feat in Sunday's game against the Raiders, if I were 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh, I’d be looking for another big game from Hillman when San Francisco travels to Denver next week.

Hillman, the diminutive third-year RB who started for the Broncos in place of an injured Montee Ball, carved out 100 hard-earned yards against the Jets in Denver’s 31-17 win at MetLife Stadium, with many of them coming on up-the-middle bursts that made New York’s front line look vulnerable. Even when Hillman, who ran for just 66 total yards in the Broncos’ first five games, was spelled by the even less heralded Juwan Thompson (like Oliver, an undrafted rookie), the visiting team had similar success with its inside running.

Hillman and Thompson’s combined output—138 rushing yards—outdid Jets RBs Chris Ivory and Chris Johnson by 122 yards. That’s not a misprint. But neither is this: somehow, some way, with no running game to speak of; Geno Smith, following a game plan that basically prohibited him from throwing the ball more than 10 yards; and Peyton Manning being Peyton Manning (at least in the two-minute drill he so artfully led near the end of the first half); the Jets were still in the game until the bitter end.

Peyton Manning may still be Peyton Manning, but he didn’t play like, well, Peyton Manning. Constantly harassed by the likes of Muhammad Wilkerson, Sheldon Richardson and, of course, Leger Douzable (again, no misprint), the Broncos QB was rarely able to get set before throws. The entire Denver team seemed similarly unsettled. By the end of the day, they’d racked up more than 100 yards in penalties, and escaped with a 31-17 win that was sealed with two drive-ending plays by Broncos CB Aqib Talib in the game’s last few minutes.

The second of Talib’s big plays was an interception of Smith that was run back for a Denver TD. The fact that the Jets QB’s first really awful pass of the game came with just 20 seconds left on the game clock was encouraging, as were the 16 times he connected with WR Eric Decker and TE Jace Amaro.

The Jets were clearly stronger with the semi-healthy Decker back in the lineup, and Amaro may not be the equal of Denver’s Julius Thomas, but he showed considerable promise, and should get better with a game plan that asks him to play more like a downfield receiver than a scatback required to earn most of his yards after the catch.

A record of 1-5 may be an unsightly mark, but, all in all, the game was a step forward for Smith and the Jets. 



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Cardinals Edge Giants to Tie NLCS ]]> Mon, 13 Oct 2014 09:08:34 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/180*120/457139424.jpg

The St. Louis Cardinals have evened the National League Championship Series 1-1 after three late homers fueled St. Louis to a 5-4 walk-off win over the San Francisco Giants.

Cardinals outfielder Kolten Wong delivered a walk-off home run off Sergio Romo in the bottom of the ninth inning to end the night.

With the Giants ahead 3-2 in the seventh inning, Cardinals pinch-hitter Oscar Taveras tied the game with a home run off reliever Jean Machi. Matt Adams followed with another home run off Hunter Strickland in the eighth inning that put the Cardinals ahead 4-3.

The Giants tied the game in top of the ninth after a wild pitch from Trevor Rosenthal scored pinch-runner Matt Duffy, who was running on the pitch, from second base.

The Cardinals won after losing All-Star catcher Yadier Molina to a strained oblique muscle in the sixth. Molina was getting further tests and manager Mike Matheny said it ``didn't look real good.''

"We just knew we had to keep grinding,'' Wong said. "When you lose someone like Yadi, it's definitely tough for us, but we told ourselves we've been going through this all year. Grinding up and down, not getting any easy pass, so we're all so confident.''

It was a rare postseason failure for the reliable San Francisco bullpen, which allowed a home run in each of the final three innings.

"They are the reason we're in this situation, and you give (the Cardinals) credit,'' manager Bruce Bochy said. "They threw out some good at-bats and we made a couple of mistakes and they took advantage of them.''

The best-of-seven series resumes Tuesday night with Game 3 in San Francisco with John Lackey going for St. Louis and Tim Hudson starting for the Giants.

Wong hit an 0-1 pitch from Sergio Romo for his second big home run this postseason. The rookie's seventh-inning drive was the decisive blow in Game 3 of the NL Division Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

St. Louis, last in the NL with 105 home runs during the regular season, has hit 11 homers in six playoff games, seven in the seventh inning or later. Earlier, Matt Carpenter connected for the fourth time this postseason.

Seth Maness retired Pablo Sandoval on a comebacker with the bases loaded to end the top of the ninth, and got the win.

Maness came on after closer Trevor Rosenthal couldn't hold a one-run lead. Rosenthal's pitch bounced off the glove off backup catcher Tony Cruz and Duffy, running on a full count, never broke stride and slid home with the tying run.

Molina bent over in pain after a swing and didn't make it out of the batter's box on a double-play ball in the sixth. Wincing, he gingerly walked off the field.

Adams, whose three-run shot off Clayton Kershaw put St. Louis in front for good in their clinching playoff win over Dodgers, homered off Giants reliever Hunter Strickland.

Gregor Blanco's fourth postseason hit in 31 at-bats put the Giants up 3-2 in the seventh, but Taveras re-tied it in the bottom half with a homer off Jean Machi just inside the right-field foul pole.

Carpenter hit a solo home run off Jake Peavy in the third. Randal Grichuk singled with the bases loaded in the fourth to make it 2-0.

The Giants came back against Lance Lynn.

UP NEXT

Giants: Hudson pitched well vs. Washington in Game 2 of the Division Series, allowing a run in 7 1-3 innings.

Cardinals: Lackey has a win each of the last three postseason series and is the active leader with 111 postseason innings.

Click here for full Giants coverage.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>