10
August
2018

s moved to the leadoff spot by

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The Charlotte Bobcats have relied heavily on Al Jefferson to put them in the thick of the Eastern Conference playoff race. On Saturday night, they proved they could win without their veteran centre having a big night. "It shows that we have other guys that can step up," point guard Kemba Walker said. With Jefferson double-teamed most of the night, Walker elevated his game, pouring in 31 points to help the Bobcats defeat the Memphis Grizzlies 92-89 for their fourth win in five nights. Charlotte is 4-0 since the All-Star break, marking its longest winning streak since March 2011. The Bobcats won despite Jefferson being held to just six points -- tying a season-low -- on 2-of-13 shooting. Jefferson came in having scored 29 or more points in eight of his last 11 games and at least 20 points in 17 of the last 19. The Bobcats used an 18-3 run in the fourth quarter to break open a tight game and then held on down the stretch with Walker making four free throws in the final 25 seconds to snap Memphis four-game win streak. It was the second straight night Walker hit four free throws in the final 30 seconds to seal a victory. "I shoot so many free throws in practice Im just thinking, "Hey, make them," said Walker, who was 10 of 10 from the foul line. Charlotte had lost the second night of a back-to-back eight straight times before winning two this week. "To win four in a row against good teams and to play this well in a game like that that was hard fought, you have to feel good about it," Bobcats coach Steve Clifford said. But now the Bobcats face a four-game stretch against the NBAs four best teams -- San Antonio, Oklahoma City, Miami and Indiana -- with the first three games on the road. The Grizzlies were led by Mike Conley, who had 16 points, but twice missed 3-point attempts when he had a chance to tie the game on Memphis final possession. Marc Gasol had 15 points, and Zac Randolph had 12 points and 11 rebounds for Memphis, which fell two games behind Dallas in the race for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. The Bobcats trailed 66-64 early in the fourth quarter when Anthony Tolliver got hot from the outside, igniting an 18-3 run with three 3-pointers to give Charlotte a 13-point lead. Tolliver finished with nine points. The Grizzlies battled back to take the lead when Conley knocked down an 18-footer with 51 seconds left. But Josh McRoberts sank two free throws to put the Bobcats ahead for good with 38 seconds left. Conley missed a jumper on the other end and then fouled Walker as he was heading up the court. Walker made two free throws to push the lead to three with 24 seconds left. Gasol answered with an inside layup, but Walker hit two more free throws with 10.7 seconds left to push the lead back to three. Conley had two open looks in the final 6 seconds, but couldnt connect. "We wanted to win, but the Charlotte Bobcats were the aggressors," Memphis guard Tony Allen said. "They were physical. Coach told us before the game that their talent doesnt jump out at you, but what does is just how hard they play. Theres no excuse because they were the aggressors and they pretty much outworked us tonight." The Grizzlies game plan was to make sure Jefferson didnt beat them, aggressively double-teaming the 6-foot-10, 289-pound centre every time he touched the ball in the low post. They limited Jefferson to four points on 1-of-6 shooting in the first half and held Charlotte to 39 per cent shooting to build a 48-42 halftime lead. "Hes shooting it up and theyre going to him a lot," Grizzlies coach Dave Joerger said. "We just kept staying in front of him and making his shots tough." Jefferson picked up his third foul with 2:52 left in the first half -- a call that didnt sit well with Bobcats coach Steve Clifford, who was slapped with a technical foul for arguing. It was his seventh technical foul of the season. NOTES: Atlanta Falcons running back Steven Jackson and former Carolina Panthers wide receiver Muhsin Muhammad were at the game. ... Memphis had won 16 of its last 20 games coming into Saturday night and three straight against the Bobcats. ... Memphis is 6-5 this season on the second night of a back-to-back. Jay Bouwmeester Jersey . Johns IceCaps erased an early two-goal deficit to come from behind and defeat the host Portland Pirates 5-4 on Saturday in American Hockey League action. Chris Thorburn Jersey . Top-seeded Djokovic, who is making only his second appearance this year after reaching the quarterfinals of the Australian Open, was a 6-3, 6-3 winner over 54th-ranked Istomin of Uzbekistan. "It wasnt as easy as the scoreline indicates," said Djokovic, who has won in Dubai on four occasions. http://www.nhlbluesauthority.com/authent...ues-jersey/.The Canadiens will visit the Boston Bruins at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., on New Years Day 2016, taking hockeys oldest rivalry outside.It was special in 2010 just to be there with the history behind Fenway Park and all that, Bruins centre Patrice Bergeron said. Nate Prosser Jersey . "Well over 50 (per cent)," coach Claude Noel said Tuesday after practice, where the Jets were looking at ways to cut down the scoring chances theyve been giving away. Kyle Brodziak Jersey . The 42-ranked Czech saved seven break points while converting his one chance, and defeated the No. 3 seed in 1 hour 46 minutes. Rosol, who lost in the final in Stuttgart against Roberto Bautista Agut on Sunday, awaits the winner between Philipp Kohlschreiber or 2011 champion Gilles Simon.ATLANTA -- The Atlanta Braves agreed to eight-year contract with first baseman Freddie Freeman that is worth about $125 million on Tuesday. The deal was confirmed by the team on Tuesday night. Earlier in the day, outfielder Jason Heyward and the Braves agreed to a $13.3 million, two-year contract. Heyward and Freeman had filed for salary arbitration last month. The 24-year-old Freeman was an All-Star last year when he hit .319 with 23 homers and 109 RBIs. He matched his career high in home runs and set highs in batting average and RBIs which finishing fifth in NL MVP voting. He has topped 20 home runs in three straight seasons. "Freddie has established himself as one of the best young talents in the game," Braves general manager Frank Wren said. "We are excited to sign one of our own homegrown players to a contract that will keep him in a Braves uniform for the next eight seasons." Closer Craig Kimbrel is the Braves only player left in arbitration. Heyward, also 24, and Freeman are key members of the Braves core of young stars. Kimbrel, shortstop Andrelton Simmons, outfielder Justin Upton and starting pitchers Julio Teheran and Mike Minor are 26 or younger. Evan Gattis, 27, is replacing Brian McCann as the starting catcher. Heyward was happy to avoid arbitration. "In my head it basically says to me, lets go play some baseball," he said. Heyward is coming off an injury-filled season, and Wren said the relative lack of playing time complicated the arbitration process and helped make the two-year contract possible. Heyward hit .254 with 14 homers and 38 RBIs in a career-low 104 games during his fourth season with the Braves. He had an appendectomy on April 22 and broke his jaw on Aug. 21 when he was hit by a pitch from New York Mets left-hander Jon Niese. "Last year was such a tough year physically, through no fault of his own, with the appendectomy and getting hit in the face," Wren said. "So it also made it tough for both sides in an arbitration situation because its hard to pin a number when youre comparing to players who played a lot more." Heywardd said he has moved past his injuries.dddddddddddd "Physically, I feel great, being 24 years old and being blessed with some genetics to go along with that," he said. "Im growing up still in this game and Im looking forward to what my body is going to allow me to do going forward." Heywards deal calls for a $1 million signing bonus, payable in equal installments on May 1 and July 1, and salaries of $4.5 million this year and $7.8 million in 2015. The 2015 salary would escalate based on a points system for 2014 accomplishments, going up $500,000 for 20 points and then by $25,000 for each additional point. Heyward would earn 10 points each for 502 plate appearances, All-Star game selection, a Gold Glove award, a Silver Slugger award and finishing 11th-to-20th in MVP voting. He would receive 15 points for 6th-to-10th in MVP, 25 points for third-to-fifth and 35 points for first or second. Heyward enjoyed his best season in 2012, when he hit .269 and set career highs with 27 homers, 82 RBIs and 21 stolen bases. Heywards injuries did not prevent him from showcasing his versatility. A 2012 Gold Glove winner in right field, Heyward started 20 games in centre last year. He spent most of the season hitting second in the order before he was moved to the leadoff spot by manager Fredi Gonzalez on July 27. Over his next 22 games, Heyward hit .349 with five homers, 15 RBIs and 23 runs. Heyward is projected as Atlantas leadoff hitter. "He provides a great presence," Wren said. "The one thing we saw, especially after Fredi moved him to the leadoff spot, it allowed him to utilize his speed, it allowed him to utilize his ability to get on base even to a greater degree. "I think other teams felt pressure from the very first pitch of the game, because all of a sudden now youve got a 6-foot-6, 230-pound leadoff hitter that can do some damage from the get-go. That came back to us time and time again, that theres no let up. It starts right away." Heyward is eligible for free agency after the 2015 season. He had asked for a raise from $3.65 million to $5.5 million in arbitration and had been offered $5.2 million. 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