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After fighting through injuries as a rookie, Jamal Murray ready for pain-free season with Denver Nuggets
The pain began as soon as Jamal Murray moved to get out of bed. It persisted during light pregame stretches. It reached a level Murray “couldn’t explain” when he’d slide laterally on defense or barrel through traffic for a layup. But Murray kept playing through the discomfort, because that’s the only approach he’s ever known. Two sports hernias did not stop the Denver Nuggets guard from suiting up for all 82 games as a 19-year-old rookie, during which he showed flashes of his sweet stroke and versatility that made him a 2016 lottery pick. “He didn’t say a word,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said, “which kind of speaks to his mental toughness.” Following offseason surgery, Murray is likely to be Denver’s starting point guard for Wednesday’s season opener at the Utah Jazz. He’s expected to be a crucial piece of an up-and-coming Nuggets team aiming to break through a loaded Western Conference and get into the playoffs for the first time since 2013. The biggest reason for team’s belief in Murray? He’s finally healthy. “My body is the best it’s felt in a long time,” he said. “I’m looking forward to using it this season.” Training the mind The way Murray’s mind-set has been shaped by practicing meditation — he dubs it “mental Kung Fu” — and his deep-seeded competitiveness is well-documented. But a young Murray first started showing sheer physical toughness during Saturday morning wrestling matches with his father, Roger, when he “never wanted to back down.” That grit carried over to organized sports. Roger recalls a time during a youth basketball game when Jamal’s finger snapped back and popped out of its socket. He insisted on getting back in the game. Murray played through broken fingers, sprained ankles, “every injury I’ve had” to keep on the court. His father, meanwhile, would closely monitor Jamal’s health, helping his son understand which ailments he should take seriously and which ones he should ignore. Related Articles 7 takeaways from Denver Nuggets’ open scrimmage at Fort Carson Gary Harris says signing lucrative contract extension “hard to describe” Kickin’ it with Kiz: Will angry Nuggets fans ever let the team retire the number of Carmelo Anthony? Denver Nuggets aim to fix rebounding woes before start of regular season Kiszla: When push comes to shove, will Nuggets be tough enough to make the NBA playoffs? “It just becomes a part of him, so it becomes easier each time,” Roger said. “It becomes normal for him to take pain and carry on or block it out or just move beyond that.” Murray knew early in his rookie NBA season that his groin area was injured, not just sore. But he was the teenager trying to prove he was worthy of the Nuggets’ high draft pick, that he belonged on the same court with the best basketball players in the world. He was not about to complain. “Sometimes Coach (Malone) would demand, ‘C’mon, Jamal. Pick it up,’ ” Murray recalled. “There’s times where I said (to myself), ‘I have to push through it and fight through it.’ “(It) took a lot out of me to be able to do this.” The pain got “continuously worse” as time passed. Malone said the Nuggets training staff notified him of Murray’s condition sometime during the second half of the season. Closely re-watch game tape, Roger suggests, and one will notice his son briefly grimace and limp when landing after a layup, before getting back on defense. Before one game about midway through the season, Roger recalls watching his son hobble upstairs and telling him he did not need to play. A few minutes later, Jamal returned and told his father “I’m ready.” “He had to dig deep for that one, because he could barely walk,” Roger said. “Then he did his thing.” Despite his health struggles, Murray averaged 9.9 points, 2.6 rebounds and 2.1 assists while playing both shooting guard and point guard as a rookie. He learned how to come off the bench, then emerged as a late-season starter when the Nuggets made a playoff push. He got his first experience with the exhaustive travel and being the youngest guy in a locker room. Murray had surgery in April and called the recovery process “the most down part of my life.” He could not walk for a few days, yet was back in the Pepsi Center less than a week later to work his upper body on the battle ropes. But he couldn’t play for about four months, trading shooting drills and pickup games for extensive rehabilitation sessions. He went home to Kitchener, Ontario, over the summer to spend time wit [...]
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Nick Novak’s late kick leads Chargers past Raiders
OAKLAND, Calif. — Nick Novak kicked a 32-yard field goal on the final play of the game and the Los Angeles Chargers took advantage of a key missed extra point by Giorgio Tavecchio to beat the Oakland Raiders 17-16 on Sunday. The Chargers (2-4) had been done in by poor kicks this season, losing twice on misses by former kicker Younghoe Koo. Novak missed a 48-yard field goal in the first quarter, but it was a missed extra point by Tavecchio — after a high snap by Jon Condo early in the fourth quarter — that proved to be the difference in a fourth straight loss by the Raiders (2-4). BOX SCORE: Chargers 17, Raiders 16 Philip Rivers took over at his 8 with 4:09 to play and used two long passes by Hunter Henry to move the Chargers into field-goal range. Five straight runs by Melvin Gordon and two kneeldowns moved the ball to the 14 and drained the clock, setting the stage for Novak’s winning kick. The Raiders had taken the lead on a 47-yard end-around by Cordarrelle Patterson but that and the return of quarterback Derek Carr weren’t enough to end this slide. Oakland last lost four in a row during an 0-10 start in 2014. Carr, who missed last week’s game with a broken bone in his back, threw for just 171 yards with two interceptions and a touchdown. Rivers went 25 for 36 for 268 yards with one touchdown. Gordon ran for 83 yards and scored twice. QUICK TURNAROUND The Raiders appeared in good shape when Dexter McDonald forced a fumble by Tyrell Williams that was recovered by David Amerson and the offense crossed midfield looking to build on a three-point lead. Coach Jack Del Rio opted to go for it on fourth-and-2 from the 41 but Carr threw an incomplete pass. Rivers then drove the Chargers to the go-ahead score on a 6-yard pass to Gordon. ROLLER COASTER START Carr got off to a rough start in his return to the field, throwing an interception to Trevor Williams on his first pass of the game. The play didn’t cost the Raiders because Novak missed a 48-yard field goal. Carr then rebounded in his next drive and capped it with a 23-yard TD pass to Michael Crabtree. THIRD DOWNS Related ArticlesOctober 15, 2017 Steelers outlast Chiefs to defeat NFL’s last unbeaten team October 15, 2017 With Aaron Rodgers out, Vikings cruise past Packers October 15, 2017 Owners seek NFLPA’s help as players standing for anthem is “not happening quickly enough” October 15, 2017 Colin Kaepernick makes plans to pursue collusion case against NFL owners October 15, 2017 Aaron Rodgers could miss rest of season with broken collarbone, Packers say The Raiders defensive issues on third down returned on a TD drive by the Chargers late in the first half. Rivers converted three third downs of at least 7 yards on the drive and Los Angeles tied the game at 7 when Gordon leaped into the end zone on fourth down from the 1. UP NEXT Chargers: Host Denver on Sunday. Raiders: Host Kansas City on Thursday night. [...]
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Steelers outlast Chiefs to defeat NFL’s last unbeaten team
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Le’Veon Bell ran for 179 yards and a touchdown, Antonio Brown made an acrobatic touchdown catch in the fourth quarter and the Pittsburgh Steelers held on to beat the Kansas City Chiefs 19-13 on Sunday. The Chiefs (5-1) still had a chance after Brown’s 51-yard reception made it 19-10, moving quickly downfield and getting a 33-yard field goal from Harrison Butker. And when their defense forced a quick three-and-out, Tyreek Hill’s 32-yard punt return gave them the ball with 1:48 to go. But after the Steelers (4-2) gave up a first down, James Harrison sacked Alex Smith on third-and-10, and the quarterback’s incomplete pass on fourth down left the NFL with no unbeaten teams. Ben Roethlisberger was 17 of 25 for 252 yards for Pittsburgh, bouncing back from his abysmal five-interception performance against Jacksonville last week. His favorite target was Brown, who a few weeks ago was flipping over water coolers on the sideline but spent Sunday slinging high-fives. He finished with eight catches for 155 yards, often beating All-Pro cornerback Marcus Peters. The game in many ways resembled January’s divisional playoff game at Arrowhead Stadium, when Bell churned for 170 yards rushing and the Steelers’ defense shut down the Chiefs in an 18-16 victory. Their defensive dominance was even more impressive considering the circumstances: The Steelers had allowed more than 200 yards rushing twice in the past three weeks, while Kareem Hunt ran for 107 yards and the Chiefs piled up 450 yards in a shootout victory last Sunday in Houston. Kansas City rolled into the game averaging 414.2 yards and 32.8 points, but the Steelers shut down NFL rushing leader Hunt, who gained just 21 yards on nine carries. They also spent the afternoon with their paws on Smith’s jersey, holding the league’s top-rated passer to 246 yards and a touchdown. Still, Smith nearly rallied the Chiefs in the second half, hitting De’Anthony Thomas down the sideline for a 57-yard fourth-quarter touchdown that got Kansas City within 12-10. But the Steelers answered with Bell, whose hard running got them near midfield. And when they faced third-and-2, former Chiefs coach and Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley dialed up a pass down the sideline to Brown, who caught the tipped ball and ran it 51 yards for the score. It was Brown’s 52nd touchdown reception, passing Lynn Swann for third-most in franchise history. OOPS MOMENTS The Chiefs’ first turnover since their first offensive play of the season came in the first half, when backup center Zach Fulton snapped the ball over Smith’s head for a safety. But the Steelers gave the ball right back when they inexplicably decided not to field the ensuing free kick. INJURIES Related ArticlesOctober 15, 2017 Nick Novak’s late kick leads Chargers past Raiders October 15, 2017 With Aaron Rodgers out, Vikings cruise past Packers October 15, 2017 Owners seek NFLPA’s help as players standing for anthem is “not happening quickly enough” October 15, 2017 Colin Kaepernick makes plans to pursue collusion case against NFL owners October 15, 2017 Aaron Rodgers could miss rest of season with broken collarbone, Packers say Steelers RT Marcus Gilbert, who had missed three weeks with a hamstring injury, left in the first half after aggravating it. LB Vince Williams left in the second half with a hip injury after picking up a pair of sacks. … Chiefs RB Charcandrick West was evaluated for a concussion. UP NEXT Steelers: Return home to face Cincinnati on Sunday. Chiefs: Visit the Raiders on Thursday night. [...]
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Chambers: Anaheim saw in Beuachemin what the Avalanche could not
Anaheim Ducks defenseman Francois Beauchemin was awoken midway through his pregame nap Monday by his wife, Marie Claude. It must have been serious. And it was. Pregame naps are as important to an NHL player as pregame warm-ups, but Marie Claude had reason to disturb her husband: Law enforcement officials were demanding the family evacuate their Anaheim-area home because of the Southern California wildfires. The smoke storm was quickly approaching. Beauchemin, the former Avalanche defenseman surprisingly bought out by the club in June, had a lot on his plate at the time. He had a game that night at the Honda Center against the Calgary Flames. His parents were in town from Montreal. His two children were frightened. And he was trying to settle the family into a new house while trying to sell the Greenwood Village home his family lived in the last two years. “We got everybody out, got in a hotel and I had a game Monday night,” Beauchemin said Friday from the Pepsi Center, following a morning skate on game day against the Avalanche. “It was the start of a very stressful week.” The Beauchemins were allowed to return to their home Tuesday night. The scare was just that, with fire fighters saving the home and others in the neighborhood. Francois flew to Colorado with the Ducks on Thursday and drove to look in on the selling of his Greenwood Village property. Beauchemin, now in his third stint with the Ducks, signed with Colorado as a free agent from Anaheim in 2015. His buyout didn’t add up, because of the financial consequences for Colorado and because he has always been a player you want on your team. The Avs are paying him $1.5 million to play against them this season, and another $1.5 million next season when Beauchemin moves to the family farm in Quebec. After Friday’s morning skate, Beauchemin reflected on his whirlwind summer that began with a phone call from Avalanche general manager Joe Sakic in June. Sakic told Beauchemin the team would buy out the final year of his three-year contract that paid him $4.5 million annually. At age 37, Beauchemin figured he was done playing in the NHL, because he wasn’t interested in moving his family again. Related Articles Avalanche loses at Dallas 3-1 Avalanche, Stars off to unexpected starts this season Avalanche dominates, but wins a tight one over Anaheim Avalanche rookie Tyson Jost out 1-2 games with bone bruise Nathan MacKinnon doing everything but scoring goals for Avalanche “It’s a big deal when you play all your life and then you find you’re not playing anymore, and you don’t expect it,” Beauchemin said. “I had some calls from different teams in July and that’s always fun to hear but I wasn’t interested in moving my family around. So I made up my mind I wasn’t going to play (in the NHL) but maybe go with Team Canada for some tournaments and maybe play in the Olympics — until I got the call on Aug. 17.” The call was from Anaheim GM Bob Murray, who wanted Beauchemin to return to the organization in which he played nine of his 12 NHL seasons. Murray wanted Beauchemin to be the veteran leader that he is and the player/coach for his young defensemen. Anyone who knows Beauchemin knows the guy doesn’t own an ego. He realizes he is no longer a top-pairing defenseman, or even a top-four on a good team. But he’s perhaps an ideal third-pairing guy because of his leadership and character. The summer was stressful, and the Avs lost a player they could use. But in the end, it all worked out for Beauchemin and his family. “Whenever you play against your old team, it’s a little weird, but honestly, when I went back to Anaheim, two years went by and it was like I never left,” he said. “We got lucky to find a house in the same neighborhood, the kids were back in the same schools with the same friends, and in the locker room I see all the same faces. There are only maybe four, five new faces. It feels like just yesterday when I left Anaheim. It was like moving back home.” [...]
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Avalanche loses at Dallas 3-1
While the music was blaring at the American Airlines Center on Saturday evening, you’d be hard-pressed to hear it over the gasps of the fans as they watched the Dallas Stars defeat the Avalanche 3-1. It was a theme throughout the night as one player recorded the Gordie Howe Hat Trick and both teams struggled to capitalize on the numerous miscues of the other. Colorado just struggled a lot more. The Avs (4-2-0) had their first real chance just over five minutes into the game when Stars defenseman Esa Lindell was penalized for holding. The Avs managed just a single shot — and a poor one at that — on the power play, something that has plagued the team to start the season. Entering the game, the Avs had converted on only 16 percent of their power-play opportunities — and were just 1-of-12 on the road. The numbers just got worse as they had four power-play opportunities and the Stars (2-3-0) killed them all. That they failed to capitalize against Dallas shouldn’t come as a surprise, given the Stars have yet to allow a short-handed goal this season. But that doesn’t explain the penalties the Avs committed, resulting in chances for the Stars, a team that is considerably better with the extra player. The Stars entered Saturday tied for second in the NHL in converting on nearly 34 percent of their opportunities. They had their struggles as well, failing to convert on their first four opportunities of the game. However, captain Jamie Benn, with an assist from center Tyler Seguin, broke a scoreless tie in the opening minute of the second period and Seguin capitalized on the fifth power play by scoring in the final seconds of the second period, thanks to assists from Devin Shore and Benn. Related Articles Chambers: Anaheim saw in Beuachemin what the Avalanche could not Avalanche, Stars off to unexpected starts this season Avalanche dominates, but wins a tight one over Anaheim Avalanche rookie Tyson Jost out 1-2 games with bone bruise Nathan MacKinnon doing everything but scoring goals for Avalanche It certainly could’ve been worse for the Avs. They managed to kill a 5-on-3 power play in the second period and were outshot by the Stars 36-22 on the night. But the offense was stale for the most part, failing to make Stars goalie Ben Bishop sweat too much in the net. Center Nathan MacKinnon, who started for the Avs despite a scary injury Friday night. managed just one shot Saturday. Center Matt Duchene was the one who came through for the Avs in the opening minutes of the third period by scoring a goal to cut the lead to 2-1. Duchene now has three goals to go with his three assists. His offense alone though wasn’t enough to overcome Benn and Seguin. Seguin, by the way, was the player who recorded the Gordie Howe Hat Trick — an assist, a goal and a fight in the same game. While his scoring is nothing new, the fight was the first of his career and came as he disproved of Nikita Zadorov roughing Benn in the third period. The fight actually came against former Star Patrik Nemeth, who was just picked up by the Avs on waivers less than two weeks ago. Lindell added an empty-netter for the Stars in the closing minute to put the icing on the cake. Colorado gets a couple days off before taking on the Predators in Nashville on Tuesday. [...]
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Scouting the enemy: New York Giants
The Denver Broncos host the New York Giants on Sunday Night Football. Mile High Report’s Christopher Hart takes a deeper look at this weekend’s gridiron battle. The Denver Broncos and New York Giants will face each other under the bright lights on Sunday Night Football. It will be the thirteenth time the two franchises have met historically. The overall series is dead even at 6-6, but the Broncos have won three of their last four meetings with the Giants — who may have the ultimate bragging rights in the head-to-head series based on their 39-20 victory in Super Bowl XXI. Denver enters Sunday’s affair relatively healthy and sports an impressive 3-1 record, while the Giants are a desperate 0-5 team that has been devastated by injuries. The Giants’ top four receivers on their depth chart to begin the season won’t be playing on Sunday. Odell Beckham Jr., Brandon Marshall and Dwayne Harris were all placed on injured reserve earlier in the week — and second-year pro Sterling Shepard won’t be suiting up either. That should make things much easier for the No Fly Zone and you can expect them to hold Eli Manning and the depleted Giants offense to minimal yardage through the air. We're making our 19th prime-time appearance at home since 2011, the most in the @nfl.#BeatTheGiants pic.twitter.com/bXevnLYUuB— Denver Broncos (@Broncos) October 14, 2017 Just when Giants fans thought it couldn’t get any worse, their injury report developed to something akin to an infirmary list. New York will also be without their starting center Weston Richburg, starting running back Paul Perkins and several other players. It’s never easy to come into Mile High and exit with a victory, and that task will be even harder with all the aforementioned key players on the sidelines for Sunday’s game. If the Giants were a healthy team, I would be worried. However, they aren’t and I have relatively few concerns about the Broncos’ ability to defeat them. Even though New York is desperate for a victory, they are in complete disarray and seem to be a sure-fire bet to earn the top selection in next year’s NFL Draft if their dumpster fire of a season continues to endure. I suspect it will on Sunday. Key Match Ups To Watch Von Miller and Shaquil Barrett vs. Bobby Hart and Ereck Flowers In four games this season, Miller and Barrett have combined for five sacks. That doesn’t seem that impressive, but they have had a ton of pressures and routinely graded out as some of the team’s best defensive players each week. Each of them have favorable match ups this weekend going against Hart and Flowers, who have graded out as one of the worst tackle tandems in the NFL. Most sacks allowed (thru Week 5)Menelik Watson 5.5Kyle Murphy 5Matt Kalil 5Ereck Flowers 4.5Greg Robinson 4.5— Gil Brandt (@Gil_Brandt) October 12, 2017 In short, Miller and Barrett could have their best games of the season and rack up some eye-popping stats with great performances going up against sub-par tackles. Don’t be surprised to see both of them have multiple sacks against a team who has already given up 13 sacks to date. For perspective, Manning was only sacked 21 times in a full season last year. It’s time for Miller and Barrett to eat! The No Fly Zone vs. The Giants’ Revamped Wide Receiver Corps As previously mentioned, Manning will be without his top four receivers for this game. That will undoubtedly impact chemistry on the field and I expect a lot of miscommunication and issues to arise from that. Having all that firepower dormant is already a huge obstacle to overcome, but going up against the league’s best secondary in the No Fly Zone just compounds the problem into an almost improbable mountain to summit. Expect the Broncos’ secondary to make some big plays against a young and inexperienced receiver corps the Giants will be fielding this weekend. Hart’s Prediction I have no concerns about the Broncos imploding on Sunday. The only question I have is how well the offense will do against a porous Giants defense. The Broncos’ defense have been stalwarts against the run all season long, and with no viable weapons in their receiving game, I don’t see how the Giants are going to score enough points to beat Denver on Sunday. This game could get ugly real quick. With the Broncos having an extra week to prepare off their bye week, I believe they will be firing on all cylinders in all phases of the game and earn a big victory. My bold prediction: touchdowns on offense, defense and special teams! Broncos 34, Giants 13. [...]
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Next big NFL trade? 49ers reportedly shopping LB NaVorro Bowman
San Francisco 49ers’ NaVorro Bowman is reportedly being shopped for a trade. ESPN’s Adam Schefter said the 49ers are shopping Bowman and “there are teams interested.” If the 49ers are willing to move Bowman and aren’t asking for a ridiculous return, there’s no reason Bowman shouldn’t change teams this month. [...]
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Denver's defense has added an air of mystery this season
Denver's dominant defense had one fatal flaw last season. "I feel like last year you probably could've guessed what we were going to run our first five plays of the game," cornerback Aqib Talib said this week as the refreshed Broncos (3-1) prepared to face the depleted New York Giants (0-5) on Sunday night. All too often, that put the Broncos' run-of-the-mill offense in catch-up mode and rendered Denver's strengths — Von Miller and the "No Fly Zone" secondary — mere window dressing. [...]
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[Mile High Sports] – A toast to the Old Boys Club | Mile High Sports
... can’t be a good thing. It’s far too early so guess what will follow for the Rapids in the wake of Mastroeni’s firing. Since reaching the Western Conference Cha ... [...]
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[MLS: Colorado Rapids] – AdvoCare Match Preview | Colorado Rapids vs. Real Salt Lake | October 13, 2017
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Nuggets 2017-18 Player Preview: Emmanuel Mudiay
Last Season: Emmanuel Mudiay contributed both as a starter and a reserve with averages of 11.0 points, 3.9 assists and 3 [...]
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Broncos Injury Report: Paxton Lynch, Cody Latimer officially ruled out
While the Broncos' injury list is short, the Giants' is long and includes a slew of starters. [...]
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Mason's Mailbag: Expect the unexpected from Giants
Other topics include the use of Isaiah McKenzie so far this season and where Devontae Booker fits with C.J. Anderson and Jamaal Charles flourishing at running back. [...]
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