The game featured 17 dunks, one shy of the most in an NBA game this season

with less than two minutes to play in an eventual 109-108 defeat. Denver will close out the calendar year with winnable home dates against Minnesota and Philadelphia; it still just doesn’t look right when you see in the standings that the Nuggets have a losing record (6-8) in the Pepsi Center and its infamous altitude.

The alarm bells sounded loudly in Motown early last week, when the Pistons responded to a players-only meeting by surrendering 69 points in the first half to the struggling Bulls and wound up getting throttled by 31 — when Chicago was coming off of its own 26-point smoking by Milwaukee.

Volume on the Pistons’ struggles with ball movement and cohesion since the return of Reggie Jackson continues to rise, but Stan Van Gundy is openly scoffing at the notion that Detroit might start to shop Jackson in advance of the Feb. 23 trade deadline. Says SVG: “You can’t be charting your organization’s course based on 10 [bad] games when you went through 82 games and a playoff series.”

The Cavaliers came back from 14 points down to win, the biggest comeback on Christmas Day in the past 10 seasons.
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The game featured 17 dunks, one shy of the most in an NBA game this season. The Cavaliers had 10 of the 17.

Authentic Kids Matt Jones Jersey The Cavaliers held the Warriors to nine 3-pointers. The Warriors are 21-1 this season when they make at least 10 3-pointers in a game. They’re 6-4 otherwise.

Kyrie Irving didn’t just hit the winning shot. He also had seven steals, which according to Elias Sports Bureau research is the most in a Christmas Day game. Irving, who also finished with 25 points, had five assists to LeBron James. The only game in which he had more was on Wednesday against the Milwaukee Bucks, when he had six.

49ers vs. Lions 2015 live stream: Time, TV schedule and how to watch online

Authentic Kids Brandon Beachy Jersey The San Francisco 49ers and Detroit Lions will face off on Sunday with no playoff implications whatsoever, but both teams have a lot of questions that need answering.

For the 49ers, the questions are obvious: does Jim Tomsula deserve another season at the helm of the team, and are his coordinators putting the players in a position to succeed? There is also the question of quarterback Blaine Gabbert, who is playing better football and looks more comfortable than he ever did with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Gabbert has been in the league for some time now, but where his ceiling actually is after coming in off the bench to replace Colin Kaepernick is anybody’s guess. Gabbert has done nothing to convince the 49ers that he is franchise quarterback material, but Kaepernick was such a colossal failure this year that anything better seems like a bargain.

The game was another testament to Arizona’s strength on both sides of the ball, scoring over 30 points for the fourth time in the last seven weeks and holding an opponent to under 21 for the fourth straight game. At 12-2 SU and 8-6 ATS this season, the Cardinals have been the second-best team in the NFC this year behind only Carolina.
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The Cardinals haven’t covered the spread at home since September, going 3-1 SU and 0-4 ATS over their last four home games per the OddsShark NFL Database.

The Green Bay Packers put together another strong effort in a 30-20 road win over the Oakland Raiders last Sunday, improving to 3-0 SU and ATS over their last three games and 4-1 SU and ATS over their last five.

While Green Bay’s offense isn’t as high-octane as it has been in past seasons, it has been getting the job done and the defense is playing well recently, allowing only 16.4 points per game over the team’s last six games. Green Bay is 4-0 ATS in its last four games against NFC West opponents.

Jose Bautista? Awesome from 2010 to 2015 and not as awesome last season

The fringe starters such as Brandon Moss, Chris Carter, Adam Lind and Pedro Alvarez are in even less demand. They¡¯re barely replacement-level players, maybe 1 WAR players (though none of them was worth 1 WAR in 2016, according to Baseball-Reference.com). Same principle: Why pay $8 million for that? Even if those guys might be helpful bench players, they¡¯re not looking to be bench players in mid-December. Come February, they might change their minds.
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Think of baseball talent like a pyramid with Mike Trout and Clayton Kershaw at the top. There are a whole bunch of players with similar talent at the bottom of the pyramid. Today¡¯s front offices aren¡¯t going to be easily seduced simply because you can pop a few homers.

Here¡¯s another way to put Trumbo’s offense in context: The past three seasons, he has hit .253/.309/.477. The three-year major league average for first base is .258/.336/.444. He¡¯s basically a league-average hitter at first base. Does that sound like a $75 million ballplayer? Do you want to bet that he can repeat his 2016 season for the next four years?

Mike Napoli is a big name, he ends up on a lot of winning teams, and maybe he deserves some extra credit for intangible leadership skills. Next to his name for 2016, you see 34 home runs and 101 RBIs — that¡¯s impressive. But he also hit .239/.335/.465. The major league average for a first baseman in 2016 was .259/.338/.453. Napoli is average, he just turned 35, and he was less than average in 2015. Do you want to bet a three-year contract that he can maintain that production?
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Jose Bautista? Awesome from 2010 to 2015 and not as awesome last season. His range in right field has diminished. He¡¯s 36. It¡¯s all about projecting value. Here¡¯s another way to put it. Byron Buxton has been viewed as a disappointment. He hit .224 and played just 92 games in 2016. He had a higher WAR than Trumbo, Napoli and Bautista. Defense matters. Baserunning matters.

Players Off Game Status Injury Report:

T.Y. Hilton, Indianapolis Colts, back: All he does is play … and play well. Hilton has dealt with various injuries throughout the season but has yet to miss a game. In each Limited Mens Randall Cobb Jersey of the past two weeks he has netted over 100 yards receiving and is Andrew Luck’s preferred target. It’s easy to see why, given that he is so reliable. After full practice on Friday there is even less question about his status this week as he has been removed from the game status injury report.

How much production should fantasy owners expect from Michael Crabtree in San Diego? Will Devonta Freeman continue to skid, or will he bounce back? NFL Nation reporters weigh in.

Rivera emphasized earlier Saturday that Game Mens Ryan Strome Jersey the Panthers (5-8) are playing to win even though they are all but out of playoff contention. Kuechly has missed the past three games since being carted off the field in tears after suffering the concussion late in a Week 11 victory over New Orleans.

Carolina quarterback Cam Newton is also listed as questionable with a shoulder injury, but Rivera said Newton would start against the Redskins.

Newton was a full participant in practice on Saturday after being limited the past three days. The team has gradually increased his reps so as not to aggravate the soreness that led the league MVP to have an MRI on Tuesday.

That test came back negative.

Love, Hate and the things that help us get by

Our fantasy football experts provide rankings to help you set lineups for Week 15.

I wasn’t surprised. I find that sometimes, that’s the role I play in people’s lives. They like the advice. They like the column or the podcast or the Sunday show. But sometimes they just want someone to talk to — someone who understands what they are going through. And so, from Sunday night through Tuesday, my inbox exploded, my phone lit up, my Twitter was going nuts.
“My heart hurts.”

If I am being honest, I had some of the same sort of feelings. Been a rough month for me, both personally and professionally, with a variety of things going on in my life. So I understood and appreciated as the messages rolled in.

They were all different, yet they were basically all the same; talking about their pain, their hurt, their disappointment.

They were all the same … except one.

Brian Kenny’s note was different.

LeGarrette Blount, Patriots: You know that old adage that you can’t trust New England running backs? Well, with at least 18 carries in six of his past seven games, it would certainly appear you can trust Blount. As we’ve said all year, you can run on Denver, as the Broncos have allowed at least 110 rushing yards in five of the past seven.

On the road in Denver, it’s always dangerous to try to predict what the Patriots will do, but for the majority of the season, they have given Blount lots of run. He has 10 games with at least 18 carries and has 13 touchdowns in those games. The Broncos are 27th against the run but first against the pass the past four weeks, so yeah, Blount is a RB1 for me this week, even in a tough road game.

Farewell, Jim Tomsula, the NFL’s Uncle Buck

If you attended public school in the United States for an appreciable amount of time, you likely had a teacher who was not the original plan. This might have been a substitute unexpectedly bumped up to full-time status, or someone who got talked into un-retiring, or a teacher in one subject area roped into teaching a class in a completely different one as well. There are many different possible reasons why you had this teacher instead of whoever was supposed to be leading your class; maybe the original teacher found a better job right before the year began or got busted smoking weed with students on a summer abroad trip.

Hopefully, your new teacher tried their best despite the challenging circumstances that came with the job, like not knowing the subject matter or having any prepared materials before the year starts. Maybe the new teacher did so well they transitioned into that role long-term.

Naturally, we can’t talk about insane passing numbers without bringing up the passing yardage champion for 2015, New Orleans’ Drew Brees. Brees finished the year with 4,870 passing yards and led the league in that category for an NFL-record 6th time. Brees’ 323 yards passing against the Falcons on Sunday notched the 96th 300-plus yard passing game of his career, also an NFL record. His sixth straight season with 4,500 yards passing is an NFL record, as is his seven total career 4,500-yard passing seasons.

As long as we’re talking about the insane offensive explosion the NFL has undergone over the years, it’s worth noting that Seattle became just the first team in the Super Bowl era to lead the league in scoring defense four years in a row. That’s right, after limiting the league’s best offense in Arizona to just 6 points in their finale, Seattle jumped up into the top spot for fewest amount of points surrendered on the year. This year’s group may not be quite as good as the 2013 or 2014 Seahawks on the defensive side of the ball, but they still led the league in that key category once again.

With 67 yards rushing on Sunday Night Football, Minnesota’s Adrian Peterson locked up his third NFL rushing title, beating Tampa Bay’s Doug Martin by 85 yards. As Gil Brandt pointed out on twitter, every player with three or more rushing titles in NFL history (and there are seven of them total) is in the Hall of Fame. Seems very likely that AD will be heading there after he retires as well.

The Royals could use a DH to replace Kendrys Morales

David Schoenfield’s take: In other words, the glut of the 1B/DH types won’t all be paid what they might expect to get paid. I’ll throw out one more team: The Royals could use a DH to replace Kendrys Morales (who signed with the Blue Jays), though they paid Morales just $9 million in 2016. Given all the free agents they’ll have after 2017, the Royals want to make one final push, but they’ll probably look for a DH on a one-year deal, maybe somebody such as Pedro Alvarez or Chris Carter.

The Rangers are among the teams taking a look at Reds center fielder Billy Hamilton.

Jesse Rogers’ take: If Kenley Jansen falls into their lap, the Cubs would be interested in adding him, but a trade for a closer — either this winter or midseason, as they did last year — is more likely. They have internal candidates who can at least start the year pitching the ninth inning, thereby giving the Cubs time to evaluate.

David Schoenfield’s take: This is a strange idea, considering Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto has twice traded Trumbo — once while GM of the Angels and then last offseason, when he basically dumped Trumbo’s contract on the Orioles. The Mariners have a thin farm system (though it is better than it was a year ago), so Dipoto should be reluctant to give up a first-round pick to sign Trumbo.

On the other hand, few teams are in as desperate a “win-now” mode as the Mariners, given the ages of Nelson Cruz, Robinson Cano, Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma. Right now, they have a platoon of Dan Vogelbach and Danny Valencia penciled in at first base, which could be sneaky good, but Trumbo would add to a power-packed lineup with righty/lefty balance one through nine: SS Jean Segura, RF Seth Smith/Mitch Haniger, 2B Cano, DH Cruz, 3B Kyle Seager, 1B Trumbo, LF Ben Gamel/Valencia, C Mike Zunino/Carlos Ruiz, CF Leonys Martin.

Mark Saxon’s take: Most people seem to believe Fowler’s decision will come down to dollars, and that and other factors could favor the Cardinals. He left money on the table to return to the Cubs and win a World Series. Now is his chance to cash in on free agency. Taxes, both federal and state, are far lower in Missouri than in Canada, so that is a factor. Also, St. Louis is far closer to his Atlanta home.

Joe McKnight’s shooter jailed, charged with manslaughter

Ronald Gasser, the man who admitted to fatally shooting former New York Jets and Kansas City Chiefs running back Joe McKnight, has been jailed and charged with manslaughter, according to The New Orleans Advocate.

Gasser shot McKnight after an altercation after an apparent road rage incident in Terrytown, La. on Dec. 1. He was taken into police custody after admitting to police that he shot McKnight and turning over his firearm, but was later released and no charges were filed.

Thomas was hurt Sunday nearly in the second quarter when he leaped in the air to catch an interception. While in the air, his leg collided with Seahawks safety Kam Chancellor’s leg. Thomas fell to the ground and was in serious pain. He tried to get off the turf but couldn’t.

The trainers had to help him off the field, and he was carted to the locker room to undergo an X-ray. The results showed that he suffered a fractured left leg.

Moments later, Thomas shared his thoughts about the injury on Twitter.

This game has been so good to me no regrets.. A lot is running through my mind including retirement thanks for all the prayers.

Indeed, Thomas is arguably the heart and soul of that ferocious Seattle defense. He is a player who can deliver big hits and cover tight ends and receivers. The Seahawks still have one of the best front sevens in all of football, but the loss of their star free safety will affect the team’s secondary.

Seattle has struggled this season when missing members of its vaunted secondary.

Chiefs, Raiders finally have records worthy of a once-great rivalry

The last time the Kansas City Chiefs and Oakland Raiders played a December game when the AFC West title was within reach for both teams, linebacker Derrick Johnson was in elementary school in Texas. Johnson, who in his 12th NFL season is the longest-tenured Chiefs player, was 11 years old.

The year was 1995, and the 10-2 Chiefs beat the 8-4 Raiders 29-23 in Oakland on their way to winning the AFC West.

Since, the teams have played some great games worthy of their inclusion in what was once one of pro football’s best and most bitter rivalries. But only a die-hard fan of one team or the other would know that because either the Chiefs or the Raiders — and sometimes both — were having lousy seasons and those games were played far from the NFL spotlight.

Garrett isn’t just pushing buttons here, rolling fabulous rookies Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott out there every week and hoping for the best. Part of the Prescott and Elliott story is that they landed in an ideal NFL situation for rookie success. And while the offensive line is a big and justifiably well-publicized part of that, the coaching staff under Garrett isn’t exempt from credit.

The atmosphere Garrett has helped create in his time as head of the Cowboys’ staff is worthy of note. You almost never hear about locker room strife or back-channel criticism of the coaching staff in Dallas — not even last year, which was a miserable one. Greg Hardy was the room’s biggest malcontent, and it seems clear now (and kind of did then) that he was a volatile one-off. He didn’t drag anyone else down with him, and the solidity of the room was a big reason why.

That solidity is a big reason why the veterans on the team were so easily able to embrace the rookies in such positions of prominence. It’s a reason why Tony Romo was so willing — even though he admitted to wrestling with it internally — to accept a backup role upon his return from injury. Garrett’s behind-the-scenes leadership is respected by players and coaches alike, and it’s established a foundation upon which the Cowboys’ 2016 success has been built.

Julian Edelman will make return for Patriots 2 months after suffering broken foot

The New England Patriots will have wide receiver Julian Edelman back in action on Saturday for the first time in two months after he missed the final seven games of the year with a broken foot.

Joe Amorosino of 7News in Boston first reported on Sunday that Edelman had been medically cleared to return with a steel-plated shoe to prevent further injury to his foot. That report that the receiver would be back in action was confirmed on Monday by Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald.

Both schools had a wide receiver get taken with the No. 4 overall selection in the last two NFL Drafts, too, with Amari Cooper going to the Oakland Raiders in 2015 and Sammy Watkins to the Buffalo Bills in 2014. Both eclipsed 1,000 yards receiving in 2015, although neither did enough to earn a Pro Bowl nod. Still, the future looks bright for both Cooper and Watkins.

So which school has produced the better NFL tandem: Alabama’s Jones and Cooper, or Clemson’s Hopkins and Watkins?

With neither Watkins nor Cooper yet reaching their full potential and both in need of another year or two to truly reach elite status, the better determination is to pick between Jones and Hopkins, who are both already there. And there is no wrong answer.

Jones led the NFL in receptions and receiving yards in 2015, and was a first-team All-SEC receiver during his time with the Crimson Tide. He had his fair share of ridiculous highlights:

He showed no remorse for his actions in his first press conference with the Cowboys and made an inappropriate comment about Tom Brady’s wife. He got into physical confrontations with coaches. Also, more photos and details emerged — all harrowing — from his domestic violence case.