Menu Memphis, TN – James Harden had 32 points, including a tying layup late regulation, and the Rockets scored eight of their 13 points overtime at the foul line to beat the Memphis Grizzlies 117 on Friday night. Smith had 21 points and eight rebounds his Rockets debut after being signed earlier the day and Elias Lindholm Jersey Harden added 10 assists. It feels great to play for the Rockets, Smith said. It’s a big opportunity for me. I have newfound brothers this locker room. Harden’s layup with 15 seconds remaining regulation tied the score and came after had made two go-ahead 3-pointers for the Grizzlies. took a half-game lead over Memphis the Southwest Division, handing the Grizzlies their first four-game losing streak more than a year. Corey Brewer added 13 points for, Trevor Ariza scored 15 with 10 rebounds and Patrick had 12 points the win.

Marc Gasol scored 29 points to lead Memphis and Beno Udrih had 17 off the bench. Zach remained out for the Grizzlies while returned to score 10 points 26 minutes. Good game, exciting game, said Grizzlies coach Joerger. didn’t execute defensively well enough. ‘s first go-ahead 3 capped a 13 run that turned a 10-point Eric Staal Jersey Grizzlies deficit with 4 2 minutes left into a one-point lead with 1 remaining. After Smith’s layup at the other end gave the lead back, buried a 3 from several feet behind the line. But Harden beat Tayshaun Prince on a driving layup to tie the score with 15 ticks remaining and lost control of the ball at the other end after stepping on Harden’s foot driving through the lane.

A replay review determined the ball went out of bounds off Dwight, giving the Grizzlies the ball with 0 seconds left. Gasol got a good look off the inbounds pass, but missed off the rim from behind the foul line. then scored the first five points overtime on ‘s foul shots and Ariza’s 3 and never trailed. The Rockets announced earlier Friday that they signed Smith, who was released by the Detroit Pistons on Monday less than two years into a four-year, $54 million contract. Smith was reunited with, a close friend and former AAU teammate. He checked for the first time after picked up his second foul just 2 into the game and scored four points the first quarter, including two on a baseline dunk. But Gasol scored 11 points the quarter and Memphis led 31 going into the second. The spread remained seven at halftime, with the Grizzlies leading 57 despite Harden’s 14 points for. Gasol scored 13 points to keep the Grizzlies on top the third quarter, when shot 63 percent to pull within 81 going into the fourth. Game Notes The Grizzlies hadn’t lost four a row since a five-game slide from Dec. 11, 2013… Smith averaged 13 points for the Pistons this… The Rockets remain on the road to play San Antonio on Sunday… The Grizzlies play Miami on Saturday.

Wiltjer 2. Gonzaga – Different year, same Gonzaga? Maybe, but we’re not betting on it. This team–even more than the 2013 squad that earned a No. 1 seed and the ’06 version that was a blown lead away from a shot at the Final Four–this team has the look of a national title contender. The ‘Zags are as deep and talented as anyone the country who doesn’t play its home games at Rupp Arena. They’ve got a great player forward Wiltjer, who averages 16 points per game on 53% shooting and awesome 47% shooting from deep.. They’ve got a great point guard Pangos, who averages 11 points and 5 assists per game. And they’ve got skilled big men 7 Przemek Karnowski and freshman Domantas Sabonis, son of Basketball Hall of Famer Arvydas, who may end up being the best player on this roster a few years. And ‘t forget senior guard Jr., who has been through the wars and can get hot at any time. KEY STATS: 10th Points 6th Assists 1st Field Goal Percentage 15. North State – This isn’t your typical No. 15 seed. The Bison knocked off No. 5 Oklahoma last year’s Round of 64, and return leading scorer, a 6 senior guard who rips the nets for 18 points per game. NDSU is 12 its last 15 games and gutted out a 57 win over rival South State the Summit League championship. This team wins with defense, allowing just 61 points per game. KEY STATS: 53rd Points Allowed 60th Defensive Rebounding 247th Points per game PREDICTION: With a different matchup, this North State team could be a real threat to win a Round of 64 game. But not against the ‘Zags. They’re too big, too deep, and too good. Gonzaga moves on here, then beats Davidson and matches up with Iowa State the Sweet 16. And ‘t give us that the Zags never win the tournament junk. This team is good enough to beat anybody. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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The New York Yankees have already accomplished what looked impossible earlier this season: They have become interesting and exciting, and have given their fans hope.

Now, they can take it to the next level with four games against the last-place Tampa Bay Rays. If they sweep, and move 12 games above .500 with 20 games to go, they would have quite a story to tell.

Yes, there’s something fitting about Tebow making all kinds of headlines hours before his former team, the Broncos, would start defending its Super Bowl title. Make no mistake: This is not a Denver story. This is a New York, New York, story all the way.

Fred Wilpon’s Mets tried to be George Steinbrenner’s Yankees here, and knowledgeable locals understand why. Until recently the Mets cowered in the shadow of their big-budget neighbors, who were forever shaped by the advice a young Steinbrenner received from the Nederlanders, a prominent theater family, on how to survive around Broadway. “New York,” they told the wannabe Boss in the early 1970s, “is a star-vehicle town.”

But from Catfish to Reggie to Winfield to Henderson to Clemens to Giambi to Matsui to A-Rod, Steinbrenner made sure his recruiting trips weren’t always about box-office traffic and back-page buzz. He landed big names who could, you know, play a pretty mean game of baseball. That was the one non-negotiable part of his deals.

“He has demonstrated over his athletic career that he is a tremendous athlete, has got character, a competitive spirit. Aside from the age (29), this is a classic player-development opportunity for us. As an organization, we’re going to provide that development opportunity for Tim.”

The decision nonetheless was made at the highest levels of the organization — by Alderson and chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon — and did not intimately involve the team’s baseball-operations personnel. The Mets were one of 28 teams to attend Tebow’s showcase last week in Los Angeles.

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BALTIMORE — For the Jekyll-and-Hyde Orioles to make it back to the postseason, they’ll need to hide Hyde down the stretch. So far, so good.

“It’s a lot of fun,” Alvarez said of his team’s multidimensional dismantling, as B.o.B’s bouncy single “So Good” blared in the background. “That’s the name of the game, though. You’re not going to be working on all cylinders at all times. The teams that have the most success are the teams that can do that more often throughout the year. That’s what we try to do every time we go out there. We know it’s not going to be a hundred percent of the time, but anytime you can get the ball rolling on all ends, that’s usually the recipe for a W at the end of the day. Obviously, a day like today is a lot of fun, and we hope to have a lot more coming up here.”

“I’m happy that I was given the opportunity again,” Puig said Friday through an interpreter before the game. “It was helpful for me to go to Oklahoma City and being able to share with the coaches there and with other players. It just helps me moving forward.”

Puig started in right field and batted fifth against the Padres. His two singles boosted his batting average to .263. He has seven home runs and 34 RBIs in 281 at-bats.

“Yasiel has done everything we asked of him; we felt ultimately that he makes us better, that was the deciding factor,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts told MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM earlier in the day.

Puig said it was “a little strange” to be back with the Dodgers but that he had learned how to be more disciplined and a better teammate.

“Five minutes ago, I was talked to by my teammates, and they explained to me what they needed from me,” Puig said. “That was really what I was looking for was a talk with my teammates, a talk with everyone and have an understanding of what was needed from me to succeed with this team. Now I’m going to get to work, and hopefully you will see the success of 2013. That’s what I will be working for.”

He also said he hadn’t worried about whether he would return.

“I was just doing my job in Oklahoma,” he said. “I was doing the things I wasn’t doing here. They made the right choice sending me down there. But now I was doing the correct things to come back; I’m here now and grateful for the opportunity.”

Earlier this week, Roberts said he was unsure whether Puig, who had been at Oklahoma City since Aug. 2, would be called up. MLB rosters expanded Thursday.

Before deciding to have their ace pitch in Single-A this weekend, the Dodgers hinted at a Kershaw return as early as the upcoming homestand, but that scenario always seemed overly optimistic at best and risky at worst. When a pitcher misses two months with a back injury, the normal course of events wouldn’t have him returning to the majors after throwing just two simulated innings.

The Dodgers have stayed relatively quiet when it has come to Kershaw’s status, outside of a blip when manager Dave Roberts dared to say that surgery wasn’t out of the question if he was being completely honest. That type of honesty, though, only maxed out the panic meter in Los Angeles.

SEPT. 13-OCT. 2: Simple math says that if Kershaw returns to the major leagues on Sept. 10 or 11, he could make four more regular-season starts to fine-tune his stuff for a potential postseason run. If his return is held off until Sept. 12 or later, then three more regular-season appearances are likely. Either way, it should give him enough time to work through any issues that would have arisen from a long layoff, assuming those issues are mechanical in nature and not physical. A Sept. 10 or 11 return also would line Kershaw up for potentially two outings against San Francisco down the stretch. If he returns on Sept. 12, he likely would not face the Giants during the stretch run.

OCT. 5: So why would the Dodgers even consider a Sept. 12 return for Kershaw if he would miss the Giants twice and make three, instead of four, regular-season appearances? One reason could be that it would line up the left-hander to pitch in a potential NL wild-card game on Oct. 5 if the Dodgers don’t win the NL West. Even if the Dodgers do win the division, Kershaw would be afforded a longer rest heading into the first division series game with a Sept. 12 return, although he would have one less regular-season start to prepare himself.

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This is the time of year that non-contending teams are finishing up the evaluations of their entire organization and deciding, among other things, if they want to make a managerial change. As I wrote, there were several managers on the hot seat early in the season, including John Gibbons of the Toronto Blue Jays, Brad Ausmus of the Detroit Tigers and Bryan Price of the Cincinnati Reds. Fortunately for all three managers, their seats have cooled considerably; Gibbons and Ausmus are in pennant races, and Price has piloted the Reds to the second-best record in the National League since the All Star break, which should save his job.

They tied for the league lead in wins with Joe finishing second in the Cy Young voting for the Astros and Phil, pitching on a terrible Braves team, finishing sixth. Joe’s best season was 1982 (6.8 WAR), and Phil went 17-4 that year with a 3.65 ERA.

The easy road for the Los Angeles Dodgers would have been finding a way to keep A.J. Ellis, who was traded to Philadelphia on Thursday, and still acquire Carlos Ruiz. Given that Ellis is a free agent after this season and has no lasting value to the Phillies, this presumably was something that could’ve happened.

By keeping Ellis for another six days leading up to the September roster expansion, the Dodgers would’ve veered around the clubhouse-culture landmines — like the reaction of Ellis’ best friend on the team, Clayton Kershaw, who happens to be the most important person in the organization.

It’s not as if Kershaw will interrupt his rehabilitation because Ellis was traded; Kershaw will always compete ferociously, and he’ll work through his back trouble and get back on the mound. Ruiz has hit lefties better this year than Ellis has and might well turn out to be an upgrade. But the risk in the deal is real because it creates a 20/20 hindsight situation.

If the Dodgers go on to win the NL West and reach the World Series for the first time since 1988, this deal will probably be forgotten and forgiven by the players. Chase Utley, Ruiz’s former teammate in Philadelphia, can vouch for how good Ruiz can be, with the 2008 championship ring they both wear as evidence.

But if the Dodgers’ recent success fades and the San Francisco Giants run them down, and they exit quickly from the playoffs, this will be added to the list of decisions in which the Dodgers’ front office was perceived to be tone-deaf to the sentiments of its players.

It’s a little tricky to combine relievers and starters here, as relievers get to throw harder since they work in shorter stints бн but Chapman and Cabrera are pretty clearly a cut above, accounting for 62 percent of all 100-plus mph pitches in baseball this year (per MLB Statcast data). Syndergaard leads all starters in the same department with 80 such pitches; the only other starter with more than 20, Eovaldi, is about to get his third elbow.

There’s a lot of velocity out there right now, but I looked closely at this list, and the one thing I took away from it is that velocity is no guarantee of success, even though it’s what everyone wants and pays for. Not pictured: Mets starter Bartolo Colon, who doesn’t crack 90 anymore and rarely throws any off-speed pitches but has a 3.36 ERA/4.01 FIP this year.

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