LeBron James has had enough of Charles Barkley.

The Cavs star responded to Barkley’s recent comments on TNT saying James was “whiny” among other things in reference to the team’s roster.

“He’s a hater,” James said to ESPN of Barkley after Monday’s loss to the Mavericks. “What makes what he says credible? Because he’s on TV?”

Known for its bullpen prowess over the last three years, the Royals have struggled late in games earlier this season after the departure of Wade Davis and, in part, due to Strahm’s control issues.

After posting a 1.23 ERA last season, Strahm had a 5.45 ERA over three starts and 21 relief appearances this season before undergoing season-ending knee surgery in July.

Buchter, who has made 42 relief appearances with San Diego this season, going 3-3 with a save, posting a 3.05 ERA and recording 47 strikeouts. He should take over Strahm’s situational role in the bullpen while Maurer could share the eighth inning role with Joakim Soria.

Maurer has served as the Padres’ closer this season, converting 20 of his 23 save opportunities, including 15 in a row since May 28, despite a poor 5.17 ERA.

The Royals are hoping the trade for better pitching will help lower their staff 4.26 ERA and help the club reach the World Series for the third time in four seasons.

Why he fits: It’s World Series-or-bust for the Dodgers, and adding a veteran like Verlander to a playoff rotation that’s seriously lacking in playoff experience/success behind ace Clayton Kershaw figures to bolster their chances of at least getting to the championship for the first time since 1998. Verlander has been kind of hit-or-miss in the postseason; for example, he had a 5.31 ERA in 20 1/3 innings in the 2011 playoffs but a 0.39 ERA in 23 innings during the 2013 playoffs. Of his past eight playoff starts, though, Verlander has thrown at least seven innings while allowing zero or one runs six times. The Dodgers would love that.

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It was also Westbrook’s first-ever triple-double against the Spurs (only the Hornets and Bulls remain on his list of teams that have shut him out in that category).

We’ve come to expect these numbers on a nightly basis now from Westbrook, especially this year, with the stunning departure last offseason of Kevin Durant. As Westbrook goes, so go the Thunder, for the rest of the regular season and in the playoffs.

Game Youth Curt Schilling Jersey It’s certainly not a stretch to look ahead and see the Thunder (currently No. 7 in the Western Conference standings) drawing the Spurs in the first round of the playoffs. Before Thursday’s game, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich praised Westbrook with comparisons to a player he watched in his youth, Oscar Robertson. The player nicknamed the Big O holds the NBA’s all-time record for triple-doubles in a season, with 41 in 1961-62.

It’s astounding. I was a big Oscar fan being a kid and watching him, when every once in a while you could get an NBA game on TV to watch him, Popovich said. But what this young man is doing every night, I think it’s just an incredible feat. Really a singularly unique bundle of energy and competitiveness for sure. He’s a good kid, I’m happy for him. He’s fantastic.

Cobi Hamilton Womens Jersey And I also get if I was a fan and could afford to get tickets, and I’m circling LeBron James, Stephen Curry and Russell Westbrook on my calendar, I would want to see them play live. I would be disappointed as well. I see it from the fans’ perspective and the players’ perspective. I’m caught right in the middle.

Durant is irked by the contenders receiving the brunt of the criticism when he feels teams at the bottom of the standings rest players, too.

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In the end, for all the improvements made to Western Conference teams — Houston, OKC, Denver, Minnesota, Sacramento — nothing was done that can truly be considered a threat to Golden State’s top-dog status.
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The Warriors kept Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston, and brought back Zaza Pachulia on a one-year deal. They even arguably got better with the additions of Nick Young and Omri Casspi. The battle for playoff seeding is going to be fascinating, but the top seed is all but decided already, and likely the West’s finals representative, too.

In terms of basketball, Rose is still solid as an attacker with the ball in his hands. He finished in the top 20 among all players in terms of possessions in the pick-and-roll (7.5 per game) and scored at a rate of 0.90 points per possession in such situations, not far behind the likes of Jimmy Butler (0.91), Goran Dragic (0.93) and C.J. McCollum (0.94). Rose also averaged 10.1 points per game in the paint, tied with Russell Westbrook for the third-best mark among NBA guards behind DeMar DeRozan (10.3) and Giannis Antetokounmpo (13.1).

Marcedes Lewis Limited Jersey He’s not 2010-11 Derrick Rose — and he never will be again — but he did enjoy a bit of a resurgence last season with the Knicks in the scoring (18.0 points per game, highest since 2011-12) and efficiency (47.1 field-goal percentage, highest since 2009-10 and 47.7 effective field-goal percentage, highest since 2011-12) departments. Running Rose out with the second unit as a playmaker could benefit the Cavs’ Big Three down the road, allowing them to get precious rest (particularly James, who led the league in minutes at 32 years old).

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LeBron James didn’t need to be told that new teammate Andrew Bogut had suffered a serious injury in his Cavaliers debut.

James heard the leg break.

Bogut was making his first appearance for the Cavs against the Heat on Monday, but was hurt within a minute of taking to the floor.

The Lakers are my family, Bryant told the Los Angeles Times. I’ll always be available for Jeanie [Buss] and the whole organization. They know I’m only a phone call away.

While he reportedly isn’t looking for a formal position in the Lakers front office, Bryant won’t turn down an opportunity to help out the franchise with which he spent his entire 20-year career. For now, it seems he’ll stick to attending team-related events while he continues to enjoy his retirement.

Andre Hal Mens Jersey Bryant returned to Staples Center on Friday for the first time since his last game with the Lakers last April 13 to attend former teammate Shaquille O’Neal’s statue unveiling outside the arena. The dynamic duo famously feuded amid the Lakers’ three consecutive NBA championships before O’Neal was traded, but have since rebuilt their relationship.

Tarell Basham Mens Jersey The world seems to know by now that the Pacers’ Paul George has one foot out the door of the Bankers Life Fieldhouse and is counting down the days until he can go back home and put on the Lakers’ purple and gold. As he put it the other day after the Pacers held extensive talks with Boston and Atlanta, about moving their star forward, it didn’t matter if he had been traded or not. I’m focusing on me, he said.

George might be the most overrated All-Star in the NBA today. He doesn’t have the game or temperament to be the No. 1 option on a championship team. But if you’re Magic, he just might be the established star to pursue in another two summers.

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Kobe Bryant has some new ink to show off.

The Lakers legend Friday shared a video on his Instagram account of himself getting some work done on his right forearm.

Bryant, who has three girls with longtime wife Vanessa, had the names Bianka Bella, Giana Maria-Onore and Natalia Diamante tattooed on his arm to commemorate his daughters.

All that Collins does is just wreck opposing competition. Over Collins’ final 15 games of the season, he averaged 22.5 points, 10.9 rebounds and 1.6 blocks while shooting 66 percent from the field and 78 percent from the foul line. Oh, and he did it against ACC competition that included Miami, Syracuse, Duke (twice), Notre Dame, Louisville and Virginia Tech.

The worry spots here are with his passing — as he’ll occasionally get some tunnel vision — and defense, where he’ll get lost both when pulled out on the perimeter and in rotation on the interior. But Collins is just a beast of a player as well as a strong athlete at 6-foot-11.

“It’s hard to double when it’s off ball, especially when you’ve got good guys like Amir, Al and Jonas that set really good screens for you,” Thomas said. “Once I’m running around it’s tough to catch me and guys are just getting me open. I’ve got the easy part of making the play.”

One of the Celtics’ go-to plays when Thomas doesn’t have the ball in his hands is a double screen on the perimeter. As you can see in the following video, Patrick Beverley gets caught up in Smart’s off-ball screen, leaving James Harden to switch onto Thomas once he receives the hand-off from Crowder. Harden wants nothing to do with guarding Thomas, and Thomas takes advantage by sinking a smooth hook shot over Trevor Ariza when he gets into the paint.steelers_001

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Authentic Mens David Legwand Jersey The Red Sox don’t believe their Saturday night loss to the rival Yankees was justified.

Boston played the game under protest after a wild 11th-inning play before eventually falling to New York 4-1 in 16 innings.

With the game tied, 1-1, in the top of the inning, the Yankees’ Jacoby Ellsbury hit a one-hopper to first with Matt Holliday already on base. Mitch Moreland fielded the ball cleanly and threw to second for the force, but Holliday opted to slide back into first instead and obstructed Moreland’s ability to catch a return throw from Xander Bogaerts. The ball then bounced off Ellsbury and rolled into foul territory.

Per MLB Network’s Jon Heyman, Sandoval is flying to San Francisco Wednesday for a physical, then will start playing in Triple-A Sacramento before making his way to the big league roster.

Sandoval struggled with weight issues and injuries during his rocky three seasons in Boston. He was in the middle of a five-year contract worth $95 million signed prior to the 2014 season.

Elite Matt Read Jersey Sandoval, who turns 31 next month, was hitting just .212 in 32 games this season. The two-time All-Star hit 14 homers with 59 RBI with 237/.286/.360 slash line in 161 total games for the Red Sox, who still owe him nearly $40 million.

Giants general manager Bobby Evans didn’t rule out a reunion with Sandoval on Wednesday.

He’ll be 32 heading into the 2019 season, and likely doesn’t figure into the Pirates’ long-term plans, certainly not at the salary he’d command if he continues his renaissance through next season. And even if he doesn’t wind up with a break-the-bank contract, it’s probably not fiscally responsible for the Pirates to commit to four years even at a hometown discount price.

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Just when you wonder if the architect of two Super Bowl winners is running on his rep alone, he reels in a Jeremy Maclin when the Ravens needed him most. For what it’s worth, despite their clear deficiencies and some ugly draft misses (hello, Matt Elam) the last few seasons, Newsome has, in fact, earned the benefit of the doubt over the years.

Thompson catches hell for his cautious, borderline stubborn approach to free agency — and he may have listened this year, grabbing Martellus Bennett and making some stealthy-smart defensive additions. They’ve made it to within a game of the Super Bowl in two of the last three seasons. Credit Aaron Rodgers and Mike McCarthy, but credit Thompson, too.

Joey Votto, Reds

Question: What do you think of all the home runs this year?
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Answer: I think that, as the season moves along and you start seeing some 30s and 40s and 50s from guys that you wouldn’t expect from, that’s when you start having conversations like, ‘What the heck is really going on?’ When there’s 15s and 25s, it doesn’t really hit home. But once we’re deep in the season and so-and-so has 45 home runs or so-and-so just hit their 30th, you’ll scratch your head and say ‘Alright, we’ll take it.’

Question: Ever hit one and wonder how it got over the fence?

Answer: Maybe a couple. But usually when you’re rounding the bases, you’re not thinking ‘How’d that go out?’ You’re like, ‘Yeah, that just went out. I wish I was a free agent!’
(Calm down, Reds fans. He was kidding with that last part.)

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The 45,225 fans at Saturday’s Royals-Dodgers game got more than they bargained for, as an elderly woman flashed the crowd while she was shown dancing on the videoboard during the seventh-inning stretch.

As the woman got loose, fans cheered her on, and then she took it up a notch. Per the Associated Press (via the Charlotte Observer), the smiling woman quickly lifted her blue shirt, revealing a white bra underneath.

I gotta tell ya Jimmy, I had a lot of people telling me not to do it, Manning said.

Manning said accepting the invitation to golf with Trump had nothing to do with his political beliefs.

I heard Arnold Palmer say one time, If the President of the United States ever asks you to play golf, you do it,’ Manning said. It’s a no-brainer and it was a fantastic experience.

Game Kids Fran Tarkenton Jersey It wasn’t the first time Manning had played golf with a U.S. president.

I’ve had a chance to play with President Bush before — if President Obama or President Clinton asked me, I’d be there in a heartbeat, Manning told Kimmel. It was just the experience of playing with the office that was pretty cool to me. I think it would have been almost un-American to have said ‘No.’

Game Kids Chris Doleman Jersey The Pacers needed someone to replace Jeff Teague, and ultimately decided Collison was their best option. He’s an eminently competent player capable of eating starting minutes and producing offensively. He averaged 16 points and five assists per 36 minutes last season while scoring at an above-average rate in terms of efficiency and playing smart, turnover-free hoops.

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In the final seconds, it was Thomas trying to bring the Celtics back, making a layup off a drive with 7.5 seconds to play, cutting the deficit to two points. But Thomas was not fist-pumping, not imploring a late rally despite the glimmer of hope. Instead, his upper lip stiffened. He walked, stoic and silent, toward the bench.

Who could blame him? On the floor, the Celtics were looking at a difficult loss, and Butler soon made two game-sealing free throws. As time wound down, Thomas knew he was just seconds away from being plunged back into reality. This game would be over, and Thomas again would be surrounded by a much more significant loss off the floor.

But the Celtics were lacking rhythm and offensive cohesion for most of their postseason opener against the Bulls, and Chicago had the defense and rebounding to stifle Thomas and the top-seeded Celtics. The Bulls won 106-102.

For Thomas, the day was bigger than basketball, bigger than the postseason. Early Saturday, his 22-year-old sister, Chyna Thomas, died in a car accident on Interstate 5 in Washington state. But still, Thomas suited up for the Celtics on Sunday and, individually, he did not disappoint. More telling, the Celtics floundered without him on the floor — Thomas was plus-12 for the game.

They’ll need to summon that defensive mindset against the Wizards, who stormed the Hawks in the fast break in their series. Washington averaged 25.2 points per game out of transition, most of any team in the playoffs, and their efficiency — 1.15 points per possession — was well above their season average. The Wizards were a good running team in the regular season (20.3 points per game in transition, fourth in the NBA), but they’ve been exceptional in the playoffs.falcons_137

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Big Baller Brand shoes will have a big baller price — if LaVar Ball has his way.

Ball hopes to put a $200 price tag on Big Baller Brand sneakers for Lonzo Ball’s rookie season, according to The Vertical’s Nick DePaula:

So far, Big Baller Brand has primarily sold screen-printed T-shirts, sweatshirts and embroidered hats on its web store, with prices ranging from $50-$100 per piece. The brand is targeting the $200 tier for its debut Big Baller Brand basketball sneaker, an industry source told The Vertical, which would presumably be Lonzo’s signature shoe for his rookie season. LaVar and associate Alan Foster reportedly have been developing the shoe over the past year.

Yet the Raptors flirted with disaster in Milwaukee’s BMO Harris Bradley Center. After holding a commanding 72-48 lead with 3:48 left in third quarter, the Raptors fell apart. The Bucks finished the third quarter on a 13-2 run.

And the Bucks continued their furious comeback for most of the fourth quarter. Jason Terry’s 27-foot 3-pointer at the 3:05 mark gave the Bucks an 80-78 lead as the Bucks’ arena erupted in noise.
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Game 1: Golden State led 20-19 late in the first quarter. They were up 58-46 at halftime and 84-73 after three quarters. After four minutes of the fourth, they were up 94-76. They won by 12.
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Game 2: Golden State saw a 60-42 lead shrink to 63-57 early in the third quarter. The lead was back up to 10 by the end of the period, and the Dubs won by 11.

Game 3: Utah took its first lead of the series in the second quarter. It stretched the advantage to nine in the third. Golden State finished the period with a two-point lead, went ahead for good midway through the fourth, and won by 11.

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