Eagles’ Sirianni: ‘I love this roster; I love our defensive roster’

Things started well for the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday in Las Vegas against the Raiders. Philadelphia went on an eight-play, 67-yard scoring drive on the team’s opening possession, resulting in a 13-yard TD pass from Jalen Hurts to Kenneth Gainwell to take an early 7-0 lead.

Philadelphia committed to the running game on that series, and Miles Sanders rushed for 25 yards on five attempts.

However, it was all downhill from there. The Raiders would score 30 consecutive points and take a 30-7 lead into the fourth quarter. Philadelphia would score two meaningless touchdowns in the fourth and would fall to the Raiders 33-22. 

Philadelphia had a difficult time stopping the Raiders’ offense. Las Vegas quarterback Derek Carr was 31/34 for 323 yards and two touchdowns, interception. The Raiders had 442 yards of total offense.

Following the game, Eagles DT Fletcher Cox, who was notably frustrated during the game, appeared to take a shot at Eagles DC Jonathan Gannon after he was asked about a screen play.

“I don’t get paid to play screens,” Cox said after the game. “I get paid to sack the quarterback, play in the backfield, tackle. I don’t get paid to play screens. We get screened all the time. Get out of stack and run to the football.”

On Monday, Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni addressed Cox’s comments.

“You know what, frustration, everyone has frustration after you lose,” Sirianni said. “As players, coaches, everybody is going to have frustration. We’ll talk about everything. We’ll talk through it. We’re going to address anything that we need to address as a team. But I’ll keep those conversations private that we’ll have there.

“I understand Fletch’s frustration. I’m frustrated. He’s frustrated. We just got to do everything we can do to get the ship righted.”

Not many expected the Eagles to be very good in 2021. Plus, the early part of their schedule was challenging. After winning their first game on opening day, Philadelphia has lost two straight and five of its last six games, but the next ten games should be manageable for the Eagles starting next week on the road against the Lions. In those ten games, Philadelphia plays three teams who are currently above .500. 

However, none of that matters for the Eagles if they don’t play better on both sides of the ball. Defensively, the question becomes, is it Gannon’s game plan, or is it the players? The linebackers are below average, the secondary is below average, and the defensive line is average. They are not getting after the quarterback with their front four, and they’re not blitzing, so the secondary is getting exposed. Also, they are not stopping the run. Philadelphia is 28th against the run, so teams are doing anything they want against this Eagles’ defense. 

According to Sirianni, he has had conversations with Gannon about making changes to the defensive schemes.

“Well, with our conversations, Jonathan and I’s conversations, it is just mixing up the coverages. He did that a little bit more yesterday. Still, it didn’t, obviously, work in the sense that [Raiders QB Derek] Carr was 31-of-34.

“We just talked a lot – we know we can get home with our four defensive linemen when they’re there. We just talked a lot about tightening it up as far as the way we’re mixing in some man-to-man, the way we’re mixing in some of the zones with the man-to-man. Just different ways to challenge on the perimeter and get our hands on balls and get in the throwing lane. That’s been the main discussion. It’s been more about to be able to mix a little bit more man-to-man in there…

“I love this roster; I love our defensive roster. I got a lot of faith in them. Again, we’re working like crazy to get it fixed.”

In terms of the offense, they have to be more consistent there as well. Hurts is young, so we should expect struggles, but they can run the ball more and just have a little bit more imagination on offense. 

The Eagles are a bad team right now, but it does appear the coaches could do a better job of putting the players in a position to succeed.

Flacco to the Jets

Eagles have acquired a 2022 conditional sixth-round draft pick from the Jets in exchange for QB Joe Flacco, the team announced on Monday. Flacco, who signed with the Eagles in the offseason, played with New York last season.

“Joe(Flacco) is just a great person to be around, great pro to be around,” Sirianni said. “Had a phenomenal preseason and was really good for our room. The opportunity arose for him to go and be able to contribute somewhere else. Then also, obviously, us get a pick for that.

“But our time with Joe Flacco was really good. We really appreciated him and everything that he did. He’s a great pro. You can see why he won so many games when he was in Baltimore and all the other places he’s been.”

Update on Sanders:

Sanders left the game in the first quarter after injuring his ankle. Sirianni gave an update on Sanders:

“Miles will probably be down. Actually, we are week-to-week with him, pardon me. It’s a stretch for him to be up this week, but we’re not ruling anything out yet.”

Brady on 6ooth touchdown pass: ‘I just think about all the guys that are sharing it with me’

On Sunday, the Buccaneers defeated the Bears at home 38-3, moving to 6-1 on the season – the team’s best start through seven games in franchise history. Tampa Bay led 21-0 at halftime and 38-3 at the end of the third quarter.

Also, Buccaneers QB Tom Brady achieved another milestone on Sunday. Brady became the first player in NFL history to throw 600 touchdown passes when he connected with Mike Evans on a nine-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter.

After the game, Brady reflected on touchdown pass number 600.

“I just think about all the guys that are sharing it with me – that’s the reality,” Brady said. “There’s nothing about this sport that you do by yourself – it’s the ultimate team sport. It challenges you physically, mentally, emotionally every week, every day of practice. This I not a sport; you can just go out there and mail it in. It takes 100 percent of what you have every single day to go out there and be successful. I’m just grateful to have amazing teammates, coaches. To be able to do it for as long as I have is really an incredible blessing in my life. I have great family. I’ve got my little baby girl; she’s the biggest cheerleader in the world, and her two brothers, who are great cheerleaders, and mom who was out there today rooting. Great to have the family here and win a football game feels really good.”

Brady is playing at a very high level at age 44, and according to his head coach Bruce Arians, he’s not surprised by what Brady is doing.

“No, because every day he comes to practice looking like he’s 12,” Arians said about Brady. “I’ve played against him for so long. Yeah, the numbers, they’re staggering, and they’ll probably never be broken. I say that but who knows when the next Tom Brady is going to come. They are staggering, but when you watch him practice every single day, you don’t see the age.”

After Evans caught touchdown number 600, he unknowingly gave the ball to a fan. Ultimately, Evans got it back for Brady, which the seven-time Super Bowl winner appreciated.

“That was really cool,” Brady said. “I’ve got it in the bag over there – Mike Evans gave it away and said, ‘I’m sorry man, I’ll get it.’ I said it’s alright. I’m sure they’ll figure out a way to get it back. I don’t actually keep too many things, though, in that circumstance, I just felt like that might be a good one to keep.”

After seven games, Brady leads the league in passing yards(2,275) and touchdown passes(21), so what he’s doing is impressive, but are we really surprised?

Giants’ Jones on one-handed catch: ‘I just tried to pull it in’

Injuries and poor play on defense have hampered the New York Giants(2-5) this season. Due to injury, New York was without four of their top offensive weapons in Saquon Barkley, Kenny Golladay, Sterling Shepard, and Kadarius Toney against the Panthers on Sunday, but it was next man up for New York.

Wide receiver Dante Pettis stepped up and caught five passes for 39 yards and a touchdown. Running back Devontae Booker had 51 yards rushing and a touchdown, and the Giants’ defense kept the Panthers out of the end zone as New York snapped a two-game losing streak and defeated Carolina(3-4) 25-3 at MetLife Stadium.

Coming into this game against the Panthers, New York’s defense was ranked 26th, but on Sunday, they stepped up. Carolina finished with only 117 passing yards and 173 yards of total offense. The unit also forced a safety when they pressured Darnold in the second quarter. He threw a pass from the end zone that wasn’t near an eligible receiver, resulting in an intentional grounding penalty.

In addition, the Giants forced one turnover and sacked Darnold and P.J. Walker three times. Ultimately, Panthers head coach Matt Rhule benched Darnold in the fourth quarter. 

Giants corner James Bradberry, who spent four seasons with the Panthers and had an interception on Sunday, believed the New York’s defense frustrated Carolina’s offense.

“I think their whole offense was getting frustrated,” he said. “I know that our front seven did a great job of rushing the passer and getting after the quarterback. I think that affected him today. As far as seeing another quarterback come in, I’m not sure, he’s just another quarterback to me, and I’m trying to get an interception. That’s what I was thinking when he got in. I figured we still have to make some plays to keep our offense ahead.”

Giants DE Leonard Williams, who had 1.5 sacks on Sunday, felt the defense had to step up and carry the team.

“As a unit, we kind of talked about putting the team on our back more and how our team is—what we think our team is built around the defense,” he said. “We take pride in being a defensive team, and you know, so far this year, we haven’t really been stepping up to the plate, and I think this was a really big game for us. We didn’t allow any touchdowns, and we’re putting our offense in some good field position, and we closed the game out like we wanted to.”

Giants quarterback Daniel Jones made the play of the game. The third-year quarterback, who was 23/33 for 203 yards and touchdown, made a one-handed grab for 16 yards in the third quarter after a throw by Pettis was a little high. The play helped set up New York’s first touchdown.

“Yeah, it was a pretty unathletic route getting out there, so he put it out there for me, and I just tried to pull it in,” Jones said. “Good play, good design, something we’d worked on all week. Good throw by (Wide Receiver) Dante (Pettis).”

Outstanding all-around performance by New York, and now they get ready to head to Kansas City to battle the Chiefs on Monday Night Football.

Watch below as Jones talks catch, and reacts to win over Panthers:

Stevenson: ‘Oscar(Valdez) can’t keep ducking’

Shakur Stevenson(17-0, 9 KOs) had the biggest test of his young career on Saturday night at State Farm Arena in Atlanta when he faced WBO 130-pound champion Jamel Herring, and it turned out to be an easy night for the Newark, NJ native.

Stevenson dominated Herring from start to finish and would get the victory by 10th-round TKO to win the WBO junior lightweight world title and become a two-weight world champion. He was brutalizing Herring, and when referee Mark Nelson stopped the fight, Stevenson was pitching a shutout on two of the three cards.

According to the 24-year-old Stevenson, after the fifth round, he started targeting a cut on Herring’s eye.

“Around the fifth round, I was landing everything, and then he started trying to come on,” Stevenson said. “I smelled blood. I saw he was bleeding and was like, ‘Okay, I have to attack the cut. I was trying to touch the cut to make the doctor try and stop it.”

The 35-year-old Herring (23-3, 11 KOs) was game on Saturday night, but he could not slow down Stevenson. 

“He’s sharp and slick. His hand-eye coordination is very good,” Herring said. “No excuses. He was just the better man tonight.”

Now, Stevenson wants more belts. As soon as the fight ended, the silver medalist at the 2016 Rio Olympics made it clear who he wanted next, and that’s WBC 130-pound champion, Oscar Valdez.

“There’s only one fight left at the end of the day,’ he said. “It’s the biggest fight at the end of the day. Oscar can’t keep ducking. It’s time for him to fight. There’s nothing else to look forward to. The 130-pound division needs to unify. Let’s get it!”

The fight against Valdez should be next for Stevenson, and hopefully, Bob Arum and Top Rank can make that fight happen. However, if you’re Valdez, you might be a little reluctant to get in the ring with Stevenson after what you saw tonight. 

Stevenson has all the goods and appears to be the best at 130.

Ali Walsh has done it again:

(Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank Inc via Getty Images)

Nico Ali Walsh (2-0, 2 KOs) had to go a little longer than his one-round August pro debut, but the grandson of “The Greatest” was dominant in knocking out James Westley II (1-1) in the third round of a middleweight special attraction. Ali Walsh ate a couple hard right hands in the first round, and he then knocked down Westley with a straight right hand shortly before the bell sounded to end the second. Westley’s corner stopped the fight following a knockdown early in the third round.

“I’m happy that my pro debut went the way it did,” he said. “There’s stuff, of course, I have to work on.

“I know the crowd got excited seeing him land a punch, but I did not feel the punch. Maybe it was my energy, my adrenaline, but my hat’s off to him and his team. Mutual respect both ways, and it was a very good fight.

“I’m blessed that I’m following the legacy of my grandfather. I think everyone who loves my grandfather who’s watching me… I love this legacy that I’m continuing.”

Holyfield shines:

(Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank Inc via Getty Images)

Atlanta native Evan Holyfield (8-0, 6 KOs) — following in the footstep of his famous father— knocked out Charles Stanford (6-4, 3 KOs) in the second round of a scheduled six-round junior middleweight contest. Holyfield connected with a looping left hook that staggered Stanford. After a right hand for good measure, Stanford was on the deck and in no position to continue.

The Great, Not So Great, & Bottom Line of Cavs’ victory over Atlanta

Coming off a tough loss against the Charlotte Hornets on Friday night, the Cleveland Cavaliers were hoping to get their first win of the season on Saturday in the second half of a back-to-back against the Atlanta Hawks at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.

Fortunately for Cleveland, they got it done!

The Cavaliers(1-2)defeated the Hawks(1-1) 101-95.

The Great for the Cavaliers:

-After saying Friday’s loss was on him due to his six turnovers, Ricky Rubio came back strong against the Hawks. He had a team-high 23 points and eights assists; he also added six rebounds. Rubio is off to a excellent start for Cleveland as he got his second consecutive start for an injured Darius Garland(ankle).

-Evan Mobley continued his solid play on Saturday night. The rookie had his first career double-double with 17 points and 11 rebounds. He also had a game-high four block shots. The third overall pick anchored the Cavs zone defense. When the Cavs switched to a 3-2 zone, Mobley, according to Cavs head coach J.B Bickerstaff, acted as Hall of Famer Kevin Garnett. 

“It’s a Flip Saunders zone that I watched a lot when I was in Minnesota,” Bickerstaff said. “Seeing Evan’s ability to move through that made me think of when K.G. was playing at the top of that zone.”

-Defense: In the first game of the season against the Grizzlies, Cleveland gave up 132 points, and in the next game versus the Hornets, they allowed 123 points. Against the Hawks, the defense was much better. Cleveland held Atlanta below 100 points(95), and the Hawks shot only 38% from the field. Great response by the Cavs on the defensive end, especially in the second half, as they allowed the Hawks to score only 40 points.

-Third-quarter: Cleveland got it done in the third quarter. They outscored the Hawks 31-17. Atlanta shot 6/26(23%) from the field. Mobley had 9 of his 17 points in the third, and Cleveland led by as many as 14 points in the quarter. The Cavs had a 21-0 run from the end of the second quarter into the third.

-Fourth-quarter: Yes, Cleveland was outscored 23-18 in the fourth quarter, but this has been a sore spot for the Cavaliers. In the first two games, they had been outscored by a combined 17 points. However, while they were outscored again in the fourth on Saturday night, they held on and won the game.

-Kevin Love and Isaac Okoro both gave Cleveland solid minutes off the bench. Love had 6 points and a team-high 11 rebounds on Friday night and had another strong performance on Saturday night with 12 points, six rebounds, and three assists in 24 minutes of action. Okoro added nine points, four rebounds, and three assists. In addition, the second-year player helped hold Trae Young to 8/22 shooting from the field. 

-Jarrett Allen had his first double-double of the season with 11 points and 14 rebounds. Allen had a combined eight rebounds in the first two games.

-Rebounding: Cleveland was outrebounded by both the Grizzlies(53-36) and Hornets(46-36), but Saturday night was a different story. The Cavs did a better job on the glass. Both teams had 54 rebounds. 

The Not so Great for the Cavaliers:

N/A!!!

Bottom Line:

Cleveland beat a Hawks team that went to the Eastern Conference last season, and they did it without Garland. The Cavs played with toughness, showed grit and heart—an excellent win for this team. Also, Cleveland needed this game because they have a tough five-game trip coming up.

What’s Next:

The Cavaliers begin their five-game road trip on Monday night in Denver against the Nuggets. After Denver, they have two in Los Angeles against the Clippers on Wednesday and the Lakers on Friday. They travel to Phoenix to play the Suns on Saturday, and they conclude their road trip in Charlotte on Monday(11/1).

Best of the rest:

Hawks’ Trae Young led the way for Atlanta with 24 points and seven assists, Cam Reddish had 19 points off the bench, and Clint Capela added 10 points and 14 rebounds.

Cavs’ Collin Sexton had 12 points and five assists, Lauri Markkanen added 12 points(3-15 FG) and eight rebounds.

Watch below as Love, Rubio, and Mobley react to Cleveland’s first win of season:

Suns’ Booker on Chris Paul: ‘I was a fan before we were teammates’

Phoenix Suns legendary point guard Chris Paul made history in the team’s 115-105 victory over the Lakers at Staples Center on Friday night. 

Coming into the game against the Lakers, Paul needed seven points to become the first player in NBA history to amass 20,000 points and 10,000 assists. The 11-time All-Star, who was also named to the NBA’s 75th Anniversary Team this week, hit the milestone with a free throw in the second quarter.

Paul, who finished Friday’s game with 23 points, 14 assists, and five rebounds, was clutching the game ball at the post game press conference after Phoenix’s first victory of the season.

“When you get done playing this game,” Paul said. “Sometimes, you want to have things(game ball) to remember things. I’m going to keep this for sure.”

‘The first player ever,” Suns’ Devin Booker interjected. “That’s the crazy part about it… It’s inspiring, and I tell him daily, I was a fan before we were teammates, so I give him his flowers daily, and he deserves that. I think a lot of people wait until somebody retires or wait until their career is over to tell them certain type things. I get to say that often to him; that’s inspiring.”

The closest players to the 20,000 points and 10,000 assists mark were John Stockton(289 points short), Oscar Robertson(113 assists short), and Gary Payton(1034 assists short). Among active players, LeBron James(294 assists short) could get there this season, and Russell Westbrook(1926 assists short) may get there soon.

Paul is a fantastic player and arguably one of the greatest point guards in NBA history. At age 36, he’s showing no signs of slowing down.

Phoenix travels to Portland to battle the Trailblazers on Saturday night.

Watch below as Paul and Booker react to Paul’s record and the team’s first victory of the season:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lakers’ Howard on altercation with AD: ‘We squashed it right then and there’

The Los Angles Lakers added a few pieces to their team in the offseason. They brought in guys like Russell Westbrook, Carmelo Anthony, DeAndre Jordan and brought in two guys from their 2020 championship team in Dwight Howard and Rajon Rondo, but they have gotten off to a slow start.

On Friday, the Lakers(0-2) dropped their second straight game as they were defeated by the Suns(1-1) 115-105 at Staples Center.

The loss is not too concerning when you consider it’s only the second game of the season. However, what might be more concerning is what transpired on the team’s bench between Howard and Anthony Davis.

The two got into a shoving match in the second quarter after a Suns timeout. 

Watch below:

After the game, both Howard and Davis said it was squashed.

“We squashed it right then and there,” Howard said. “We just had a disagreement about something that was on the floor… We’re grown men, things happen. But we are going to squash this little issue between me and him, and that’s my brother, that’s my teammate.”

Davis, who had 22 points and 14 rebounds on Friday night, added: “After the situation happened, me and DH, we talked about it, and we left it at that.”

According to Davis, the argument started over an issue with their pick-and-roll defense.

Lakers head coach Frank Vogel says stuff like this happens when you’re losing:

“When you’re getting your a** kicked, sometimes those conversations get heated,” he said. “They talked it out, and that’s going to happen from time to time.”

Howard did not play in the second half, but Vogel said it had nothing to do with the incident with Davis.

In an 82-game season, stuff like this does happen. This could bring the Lakers closer, and we’ll see the impact this altercation may have on Los Angeles going forward.

Howard talks altercation with Davis:

The Great, The Not so Great, & Bottom Line of Cavs’ loss to Hornets

The Cleveland Cavaliers(0-2) fell to the Charlotte Hornets(2-0) 123-112 in their home-opener at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse on Friday night. 

Charlotte’s Miles Bridges had 30 points, Kelly Oubre scored 25 points off the bench, Gordon Hayward had 18 points and nine assists, and LaMelo Ball added 17 and six assists.

The Great for the Cavaliers:

-Collin Sexton had a hot shooting night for Cleveland. “Young Bull” had a game-high 33 points on 13/21 shooting from the field. 

-In his second game as a pro, Evan Mobley had another solid performance with 13 points, five rebounds, and two blocks.

-Ricky Rubio had his second straight double-double as he got the start for an injured Darius Garland(ankle). Rubio had 15 points and 10 assists in 28 minutes. 

-Kevin Love had six points and a team-high 11 rebounds off the bench in 24 minutes of action.

-Jarrett Allen’s incredible dunk on Mason Plumlee in the second dunk. That was nasty!

The Not So Great for the Cavaliers:

-Turnovers: Cleveland has 19 turnovers which led to 34 Hornets’ points. Rubio had six turnovers, including four in the fourth quarter. Rubio took the blame for the loss.

“It was all on me,” he said postgame. “It was bad passes. There’s nothing to blame on them. It was all on me and I take that blame and I take this loss.”

-Fourth-quarter: Cleveland entered the fourth quarter trailing 90-89. However, the Hornets would outscore the Cavaliers 33-23 in the quarter. Charlotte started the fourth on a 19-2 run and pushed the lead to as much as 18 points. In the opener against Memphis, the Grizzlies started the fourth on a 10-0 run, so Cleveland has to fix their fourth-quarter woes

-Rebounding: Cleveland was outrebounded again for the second straight game(46-36). Allen has to do a better job on the glass. Last season, he averaged a double-double for the first time in his career. Against Memphis, he only had four rebounds, and on Friday night, he again, had four rebounds. In addition, Charlotte had 16 second-chance points, while Cleveland only had six.

Rebounding is a part of defense because it ends the possession. Cleveland must improve in that area. 

-Defense: Against Memphis, Cleveland gave up 70 points in the paint and allowed 132 points. On Friday night against the Hornets, they gave up 58 points in the paint and allowed Charlotte to shoot 53% from the field. 

Cleveland has to protect their paint!

Browns DE Myles Garrett was in the building on Friday night, and Cavaliers head coach J.B. Bickerstaff jokingly said the following about Garrett after the game:

“There were a few moments where I wish he would have protected the paint for us,” Bickerstaff said.

Bottom Line:

It was going to be tough to beat the Hornets without Garland, and hopefully, they can get him back tomorrow against Atlanta. The Cavaliers are a work in progress. Things might get worse before they get better. However, they have to find a way to take care of the basketball and be better on the defensive end.

What’s next:

Cleveland hosts the Atlanta Hawks on Saturday night. Atlanta routed the Mavericks 113-87 in their season and home opener on Thursday night.

Watch as Sexton and Rubio discuss the loss to the Hornets:

James: ‘I’d like the rematch with Ugas coming off his big win against Pacquiao’

WBA Welterweight Champion Jamal “Shango” James will look to move one step closer to the very top of the welterweight division when he takes on unbeaten contender Radzhab Butaev in a matchup that headlines action live on SHOWTIME Saturday, October 30 in a Premier Boxing Champions event from Michelob ULTRA Arena at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas.

“I’m looking to make a big statement in this fight,” said James. “This will be my first title defense and my first time fighting on SHOWTIME and in Las Vegas. My whole mindset is to come out and show out, so that everyone knows I’m a major player in this division. I have to prove to everyone why I deserve the biggest fights.”

James continued his ascent up the 147-pound rankings in his last fight in August 2020, when he out-boxed Thomas Dulorme to capture his title. With the title win, James was set to take on his mandatory challenger in Butaev, allowing James ample time knowing who his next foe would be.

“We’ve known that Butaev is the opponent for a while, so we’ve been training for a long time and I’ve been in great shape all camp,” said James. “We’re just working on our different tools and perfecting them for the fight ahead. We know that everyone is coming for us since I have the title now, so I’m just doing whatever I have to do so that I’m ready on October 30.”

The unbeaten Butaev was an amateur standout before turning pro in 2016 and quickly rising up the welterweight rankings. Trained by Joel Diaz, Butaev most recently knocked out Terry Chatwood in December 2020 to officially set up his showdown with James. While James anticipates his opponent trying to negate the height advantage he brings to the ring, he’s confident in his boxing ability making the difference on fight night.

“Like any other fighter, Butaev has two arms, two legs and a head,” said James. “All of these guys are coming with their A-games. He has strengths and weaknesses just like anyone else. I know he’ll come in there strong and try to test me. He’ll probably try to get inside on me. It’s my job to out-box him and beat him.”

The Minneapolis-native has developed a strong following in his hometown, filling up The Armory in downtown Minneapolis four times between 2018 and 2019, a run that included exciting victories over contenders Abel Ramos and Antonio DeMarco. Training out of the Circle of Discipline gym, James has led the charge in a Minneapolis boxing renaissance, which continues to motivate him even as he hits the road and prepares to fight in Las Vegas for the first time.

“Minneapolis and the state of Minnesota in general really has my back,” said James. “They give me a ton of motivation. And the Circle of Discipline is like my extended family. The people here all push me and keep me on task. That’s what makes me bite down a little bit harder in training, because I know all the people that I have behind me and supporting me.”

James is riding a seven-fight winning streak since his lone pro defeat, a decision loss to WBA World Champion Yordenis Ugas in August 2016. He hopes that a victory on October 30 will lead him directly into a rematch against Ugas, or a showdown against one of the other big-name welterweight stars.

“I’d like the rematch with Ugas coming off his big win against Pacquiao,” said James. “He’s fought the top guys and I’ve fought him before, but it was under less-than-ideal circumstances. I’d like to see what a fight between us would look like after both of us have had a full camp. I haven’t been able to get anyone like Errol Spence Jr., Danny Garcia or Shawn Porter yet, and those are the biggest fights in the division. I’d love to face one of those guys that are already considered the best at welterweight so that I can really prove myself.”

Mavs’ Kidd: ‘We gotta get better in that third quarter, and we will’

The Atlanta Hawks came into the 2021-22 season trying to prove that last season’s run to the Eastern Conference Finals wasn’t a fluke, while the Mavericks, with a new coach in Jason Kidd, are hoping to make a deep playoff run of their own. 

After one game, Atlanta looks deeper than they did last season and a team that will definitely be a factor in Eastern Conference. The Hawks had six players in double figures led by Cam Reddish’s 20 points off the bench, Trae Young had 19 points and 14 assists, and John Collins 16 points and nine rebounds as the Hawks routed the Mavericks 113-87 at State Farm Arena on Wednesday night.

The Hawks were big-time on the defensive end; they held the Mavericks to 33% shooting from the field and forced 15 turnovers. Atlanta blew the game open in the third quarter with 22-8 run. The Hawks led by as many as 22 points in the third and had their largest lead of 30 in the fourth. 

Young got off in the third. He scored 12 points and nine assists in the quarter, and Kidd, who knows a lot about excellent point guard play, talked about Young’s passing and Dallas’ struggles in the third.

“He’s improved, and I said that before,” Kidd said about Young. “He’s gotten better each year on the one side of passing the ball and not turning it over… “In the first half, we couldn’t ask for a better defensive performance. We just couldn’t make any shots. You’re talking about an All-Star in Young.. We gotta get better in that third quarter, and we will.”

Doncic, who led the Mavericks with 18 points on 6/17 shooting from the field, added on the third quarter: “They were making shots, and we weren’t making shots. They played great defense, and we weren’t at their level on defense, so that’s it.”

The Mavericks may struggle initially as the team learns to adjust to Kidd’s new offense and style, and it’s only one of 82, so there’s not much to worry about at this point. Plus, Atlanta appears to be a very good team.

Dallas gets back at it on Saturday in Toronto against the Raptors.