Dirk & DWade to be in All-Star game


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Miami Heat's Dwyane Wade, left, and Dallas Mavericks' Dirk Nowitzki, right, talk as they swap jerseys after an NBA basketball game in Dallas, Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2019. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

Miami Heat's Dwyane Wade, left, and Dallas Mavericks' Dirk Nowitzki, right, talk as they swap jerseys after an NBA basketball game in Dallas, Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2019. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)


Dallas Mavericks' Dirk Nowitzki left, and Miami Heat's Dwyane Wade, second from right, talk as they swap jerseys after an NBA basketball game in Dallas, Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2019. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)


Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki (41) defends as Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade (3) shoots during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Dallas, Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2019. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)


Wade, Nowitzki share eventful history as honorary All-Stars

By SCHUYLER DIXON

AP Sports Writer

Thursday, February 14

DALLAS (AP) — Of all the opposing jerseys Dwyane Wade has collected through swaps during his final NBA season, Dirk Nowitzki’s was among those the Miami star wanted the most and somehow seemed worried he wouldn’t get.

Maybe it had something to do with the “frosty” phase of their relationship, as the Dallas icon described the strain following the Heat’s six-game win over the Mavericks in the 2006 NBA Finals. Maybe Wade thought such a display wouldn’t be possible on Dallas owner Mark Cuban’s court.

In reality, Wade didn’t need to worry about Nowitzki turning him down.

The two-time Finals foes are elder statesmen in their league now, a co-existence better defined by sharing honorary All-Star status for the NBA’s biggest party than bitterness over a championship lost to a rival.

“You appreciate having someone like that that’s a part of your journey, that pushes you,” Wade said, a few hours before that jersey swap took place near midcourt following Miami’s 112-101 victory in Dallas on Wednesday. “We’re an important part of each other’s story.”

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver added Wade and Nowitzki as All-Star extras for Sunday’s game in Charlotte, North Carolina, with the 37-year-old Wade already saying his 16th season will be his last and the 40-year-old Nowitzki’s record 21st season with the same franchise having the feel of an unofficial farewell tour.

After winning his first title on Dallas’ home court in 2006, Wade wasn’t thrilled with complaints that the Heat — and their star player in particular — got a huge assist from the officials. He eventually shot back that the Mavericks might have won with better leadership from Nowitzki.

When Nowitzki was on his way to payback with a title five years later, Wade and LeBron James mocked Nowitzki by faking coughs in front of cameras after that year’s finals MVP made the decisive bucket in a critical Game 4 win while playing with a fever.

Those days are long gone, replaced by mutual admiration for players in supporting roles on teams with little hope of winning titles after years as pressure-laden leading men for franchises that were among the elite.

“I always say he pushed me to become the player in ‘11 to ultimately win,” Nowitzki said. “There were some things said after the ‘06 finals, and both sides didn’t love it. There were some times that we didn’t speak much. But I always watched from afar.”

Wade won his second and third titles — both with James — the first two years after losing to the Mavericks. He essentially says the same thing about his experience of losing to Nowitzki.

“We don’t lose that Finals in ‘11, we’re still going, me and ‘Bron still fighting it out to see who’s the best,” Wade said. “I took a step back at that point to kind of let him take over, an organization that I would call mine before that.”

The Mavericks haven’t won a playoff series since taking the franchise’s only title and have ground to make up if they want to avoid missing the postseason for the third straight year.

The Heat had one playoff series victory in the four years after going to the Finals in each of James’ four seasons. Miami has more realistic playoff hopes than Dallas this year, but only because the Eastern Conference is more forgiving.

None of that will matter as the All-Stars celebrate two players with 27 appearances between them. This will be 14 for Nowitzki, the German who is the only foreign-born player among the NBA’s seven 30,000-point scorers, and 13 for Wade.

“Dirk is one of the first guys to have ever done it from overseas,” said Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo, the “Greek Freak” who is an All-Star captain alongside James. “Hopefully, all the other international guys and overseas guys can do the same thing for the next generation.”

The most competitive part of Nowitzki’s weekend will come in the 3-point contest Saturday night — he’s the only 7-footer to win it (in 2006). And he’ll be one of the coaches in the Rising Stars game, leading 19-year-old Dallas rookie sensation Luka Doncic.

As for the game, Nowitzki expects his role to be about like that of an extra in the movies — very, very minor.

“It’s going to be fun to be part of and watch, maybe coach some, maybe get in for a minute or two,” the 2007 NBA MVP said. “But really I think that game is more about the guys that deserve to be there and got voted in.”

The other guy who didn’t get voted in has similar feelings.

“Me and him have had our fair share of All-Star games,” Wade said. “This is a lot different for what we’re looking to get out of it. I’m glad it is me and Dirk. I think it fits. I think it’s right and I’m appreciative of it.”

For Nowitzki, it’s no secret why it fits better now than it did eight years ago.

“We’re older,” Nowitzki said. “When you’re young, you compete, you’re stubborn. There was a few guys where I was just not that friendly with. We played against the Spurs every year in the playoffs, and I didn’t love them guys either.”

Turns out it’s nothing personal.

More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Russell scores 36, Nets outlast Cavaliers 148-139 in 3OTs

By STEVE HERRICK

Associated Press

Thursday, February 14

CLEVELAND (AP) — DeMarre Carroll saved the day for the Brooklyn Nets, and D’Angelo Russell took advantage of the extra opportunity.

Russell scored 14 of his 36 points in the third overtime after Carroll’s desperation 3-pointer in the second OT tied the game, and the Nets outlasted the Cleveland Cavaliers 148-139 on Wednesday night.

Russell’s big finish wouldn’t have been possible if Carroll hadn’t shocked everyone with his buzzer-beating shot.

The fact the play wasn’t even designed for Carroll made the result even more improbable.

“It was for Joe (Harris) or Allen (Crabbe),” he said. “It was a broken play. I saw an opening and I took it.”

Cleveland seemed to have sealed the win when Jordan Clarkson, who scored a career-high 42 points, made a go-ahead jumper in the final minute to put the Cavaliers ahead and added two free throws for a 128-125 lead.

Brooklyn called timeout and Carroll was double-teamed in the corner after taking the inbounds pass. He took a couple of dribbles to his left and put up the shot. Carroll fell to the floor and was mobbed by his teammates, who stormed off the bench.

Russell, who is headed to play in his first All-Star game, had two points in the first half and scored Brooklyn’s first 11 points in third overtime, including two 3-pointers.

Russell’s teammates pulled him aside at halftime with a clear message.

“They kept pushing me,” he said. “They weren’t letting me get down. I made sure I got the ball.”

Nets coach Kenny Atkinson said: “He was really strong in the second half and all the overtimes, but that’s the sign of an All-Star.”

Harris scored 25 points and Carroll had 18 as the Nets improved to 30-29 — above .500 at the All-Star break for the first time since 2012-13.

The teams were playing their final game before the break, likely a good thing after going 63 minutes in a contest that saw 23 lead changes.

Clarkson, playing a career-high 47 minutes, was 16 of 34 from the field and made 7 of 17 3-point attempts.

“We tried to leave everything on the floor trying to get a win knowing we’ve got these days off,” he said. “We didn’t expect to go to three overtimes. But I’m in shape. I’ll go all day.”

Collin Sexton had 24 points and Marquese Chriss added 23 for Cleveland.

Russell made two free throws with 16 seconds remaining to break a 116-all tie in the first overtime, but Sexton drove the lane and scored to tie the game with 2.8 seconds left.

Cavaliers forward Kevin Love sat out to get additional rest following foot surgery. Brooklyn dressed nine players because of several injuries.

Chriss, Larry Nance Jr, David Nwaba and Ante Zizic fouled out for Cleveland, which played its first overtime game of the season.

The Cavaliers (12-46) were trying to win consecutive games for the third time this season. Cleveland has the third-worst record in the league.

TIP-INS

Nets: G Spencer Dinwiddle (torn ligaments in right thumb) F Treveon Graham (personal reasons), F Rodions Kurucs (sprained left elbow), F Jared Dudley (strained left hamstring) and G Dzanan Musa (G-League assignment) are out.

Cavaliers: F Cedi Osman and C Ante Zizic returned to the starting lineup. Osman (sprained right ankle) missed four games and Zizic (sore lower back) didn’t play Monday. … F Tristan Thompson (sore left foot) is expected to return sometime after the break. He has missed the last 13 games.

LOOKING AHEAD

Love plans to increase his playing time following the All-Star break. The Cavaliers resume play against Phoenix on Feb. 21.

“I don’t know minutes-wise what it’s going to be like, but a good progression after that because I will be fully prepared to go,” Love said.

“He’s in a really good place right now both physically and mentally,” Cavaliers coach Larry Drew said.

STREAK SNAPPER

The Nets, who had lost two straight and five of six, are sixth in the Eastern Conference.

“That was one of those weird games before the break,” Atkinson said. “It would have been tough with a loss, but this really keeps our morale up.”

UP NEXT

Nets: Host Portland on Thursday, Feb. 21.

Cavaliers: Host Phoenix on Thursday, Feb. 21.

More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

T-Wolves overcome Harden’s 42 to top Houston 121-111

By ANDRES YBARRA

Associated Press

Thursday, February 14

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — James Harden was Josh Okogie’s responsibility for much of Wednesday night. Even though Harden piled up 42 points, Okogie’s teammates were full of praise for the Nigerian rookie.

“It wasn’t a good 42,” Karl-Anthony Towns said. “It wasn’t a 42 that he’s been getting recently, you know. He had to work for it.”

Towns had 25 points, Jeff Teague had 27 points and 12 rebounds, and Okogie locked down Harden when it counted most to help the Timberwolves beat the Houston Rockets 121-111.

Harden scored 30 or more points for the 31st consecutive game, tying Wilt Chamberlain for the second-longest streak in league history.

But it was Okogie — who had 16 points — drawing the most praise for making some key defensive stops. Most notably, Okogie brought the crowd to its feet with an impressive block that helped turn the tide.

After being stripped by Okogie a few plays earlier, Harden made one of his trademark step-back moves behind the arc to attempt a 3. The ball didn’t even leave his hand before Okogie leaped forward and stuffed it.

“I knew the shot clock was winding down, and I knew that he had to create some space to get a shot off,” Okogie said. “And I knew obviously the step back is one of his go-to moves, so I kind of just guessed, and I was right.”

A few plays earlier, Okogie sparked the Timberwolves to retake the lead with an 18-2 run in the third, including a breakaway dunk and a 3-pointer to give Minnesota a 77-74 lead.

“We saw him grow up tonight in a lot of ways, I thought,” Timberwolves interim coach Ryan Saunders said of Okogie. “In terms of game plan, following the game plan, just staying within the moment and not getting outside of himself.”

Derrick Rose completed a three-point play with 1:43 left in the third to give Minnesota an 85-76 lead.

Harden’s 12-footer made it 89-all in the fourth before the Timberwolves hit four 3-pointers to take a six-point lead. Harden hit three-straight 3-pointers to pull Houston within 115-111 with 1:52 to play. But Okogie dunked and forced Harden into an airball, and Towns hit a layup to give Minnesota just enough breathing room.

“You could feel the whole game there wasn’t enough enthusiasm, not enough want,” Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni said. “When we do that, we struggle because we’re not physical like the other teams.”

TYING WILT’S RECORD

Harden shot 15 of 34 from the field, including 8 of 22 from 3-point range. He passed the 30-point mark on his 15th four-point play of the season, getting Okogie in the air with a step-back 3 to put Houston up 74-67 midway through the third. It was also his 22nd 40-point game of the season.

He wasn’t in a mood to say much about it afterward.

“To me, we have no tendencies right now. The tendency is just to come out slow in the third quarters,” he said.

BRUTAL PAINT JOB

Minnesota outscored Houston 70-36 in the paint, as the Timberwolves used sharp passes to find several open layups.

“The way they’re scoring was almost effortless,” Houston guard Chris Paul said. “We just couldn’t stop them. Teague lived the paint. Guys were driving. I think we’re 0-2 against them, so we’ve got to be better.”

TIP INS

Rockets: D’Antoni said C Clint Capela is expected to practice next week to determine if he can play next Thursday at the Lakers. Capela missed his 15th game with a right thumb injury suffered at Orland on Jan. 13. … Gerald Green scored 10 points off the bench in the first quarter, including 2 of 3 from the arc.

Timberwolves: Teague is averaging 19.3 points and nine assists in his three games since returning from a sore left foot. … F Andrew Wiggins missed his second straight game with an illness. F Robert Covington (knee) and G Tyus Jones (ankle) missed their 20th and 13th games, respectively. … Dario Saric again started in place of Taj Gibson. He scored 10 first-quarter points on 4-of-4 shooting to help give the Timberwolves an early eight-point lead.

UP NEXT

Rockets: At Los Angeles next Thursday.

Timberwolves: At New York a week from Friday.

More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

AP source: Alliance had conversation with Kaepernick

By BARRY WILNER

AP Pro Football Writer

Friday, February 15

A person with knowledge of the conversation tells The Associated Press that the new Alliance of American Football spoke with Colin Kaepernick during its development about joining the league.

But Kaepernick wanted $20 million or more to consider playing with the league that had its debut last weekend.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity Thursday because neither side has publicly acknowledged such talks.

The Alliance says its mission is to provide opportunities for players not in the NFL to continue their careers, with a possibility they could entice NFL teams to sign them once the AAF season concludes at the end of April. The league also approached Tim Tebow, who said he wanted to continue pursuing his baseball career. Tebow currently is in the New York Mets’ spring training camp.

A message from the AP to Kaepernick’s representatives was not immediately answered.

Kaepernick, then with the San Francisco 49ers, helped start a wave of protests about social and racial injustice in 2016 by kneeling during the national anthem at games. He has not played the last two seasons and has brought a lawsuit against the NFL for collusion to keep him out of the league.

He also fits the description for potential Alliance players, though his contract demands don’t fit with the league’s financial structure. After all, the AAF is entering its second weekend.

Players earn $225,000 over three years in the Alliance, but they also are free beginning in May to pursue NFL careers. Should they not catch on there, they are obligated to return to the AAF next season.

More than 80 percent of Alliance players spent some time in an NFL camp or on a roster. None is a star; the rare NFL first-round draft pick in the AAF is Birmingham running back Trent Richardson, who flamed out with the Browns and Colts, but who league co-founder Bill Polian, a Pro Football Hall of Fame executive, says could be “fast approaching” stardom in the Alliance after his strong debut.

It’s uncertain if Kaepernick ever will play football again, but at his asking price, the only place would be the NFL.

More AP NFL coverage: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

AP Source: Broncos to acquire Joe Flacco from Ravens

By ARNIE STAPLETON

AP Pro Football Writer

Thursday, February 14

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) — Joe Flacco has gone from Denver Broncos tormentor to savior.

The Baltimore Ravens have agreed to trade the veteran quarterback to the Broncos in exchange for a fourth-round pick in this year’s NFL draft, a person with knowledge of the agreement told The Associated Press.

The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity Wednesday because neither team announced the deal, which was first reported by ESPN. NFL rules prohibit teams from discussing trades until the start of the league year on March 13.

Flacco, the MVP of the 2013 Super Bowl following a miraculous win at top-seeded Denver, became expendable in Baltimore with the emergence of rookie Lamar Jackson, the former Louisville star who led the Ravens into the playoffs after Flacco got hurt.

The Broncos again needed an upgrade at QB after Case Keenum’s middling debut in Denver, where a 6-10 finish led general manager John Elway to turn to Vic Fangio, his fourth head coach in six seasons.

Now, he’s landed his seventh quarterback since Peyton Manning’s tearful retirement following Denver’s win in Super Bowl 50.

The others all bombed: draft picks Brock Osweiler, Trevor Siemian, Paxton Lynch and Chad Kelly, trade acquisition Mark Sanchez and Keenum, who threw for 18 TDs and a career-high 15 interceptions last season to go with a career-high 34 sacks.

Flacco has three years and $63 million left on his contract with a salary of $18.5 million next season, which is 10th-highest in the NFL at his position. His cap hit of that same amount is 21st among quarterbacks in the league.

The Broncos could trade Keenum and save $18 million next season. Releasing him would produce $11 million in savings but cost them $7 million. Keenum signed a two-year, $36 million deal in Denver last season with $25 million guaranteed.

Either way, Elway’s deal for Flacco continues his build-but-don’t-rebuild ethos. The Broncos have a solid core of young stars and a still superior defense led by Von Miller and Chris Harris Jr. that Elway believes can keep up with the Chargers and Chiefs in the AFC West with the right quarterback leading the way.

They wanted a proven veteran such as Flacco or Nick Foles, another Super Bowl MVP.

At 34, Flacco is four years older than Foles but he’s been durable, starting all 16 games in nine of his 11 NFL seasons. The other years he started nine and 10 games. Foles has started more than eight games just twice in his seven NFL seasons.

Fangio also knows Flacco well, having served on Baltimore’s coaching staff during the quarterback’s first two seasons there.

Facilitating the deal for Flacco was the extra fourth-round pick Elway had at his disposal from the Demaryius Thomas trade to Houston last fall.

In Flacco, the Broncos are turning to a quarterback who broke their hearts six years ago.

Denver was the top seed after going 13-3 in Manning’s first season in Denver and the Broncos took an 11-game winning streak into their divisional round playoff game against Baltimore.

In the waning seconds of regulation, Flacco connected with Jacoby Jones on a 70-yard touchdown pass to force overtime in a game the Ravens won 38-35 in double overtime. Safety Rahim Moore went for the interception instead of the tackle and mistimed his leap, allowing Jones to catch the ball at the 20-yard line and trot into the end zone with the tying touchdown.

Flacco, who turned 34 last month, has played all 11 of his seasons with the Ravens after being selected 18th overall in the 2008 NFL draft. He started immediately as a rookie and was Super Bowl MVP after the 2012 season, guiding the Ravens to a victory over San Francisco in the championship game during a playoff run that included that “Mile High Miracle” in Denver.

Flacco was the starter last season until he injured his right hip in a loss to Pittsburgh on Nov. 4. The Ravens had a bye the following week, and Jackson took over for the still-ailing Flacco on Nov. 18 against Cincinnati. Jackson produced wins over the Bengals, Raiders and Falcons before a 27-24 loss to Kansas City on Dec. 9.

Flacco was healthy enough to return the following week, but coach John Harbaugh said Jackson would be his starter in a matchup against Tampa Bay. Jackson retained the job, going 6-1 to get the Ravens into the postseason before coming up short in a first-round loss to the Los Angeles Chargers.

The Ravens went 106-72 with Flacco as a starter, including the postseason. He is the team career leader in attempts (5,670), completions (3,499), yards (38,245) and touchdowns (212). His 10 playoff victories since 2008 rank second behind Tom Brady among active quarterbacks.

Flacco and Harbaugh arrived in Baltimore together in 2008. They proceeded to reach the playoffs in each of the next five years. Flacco was the first starting quarterback since the 1970 merger to win a playoff game in each of his first five years. Russell Wilson duplicated the feat from 2012-16.

During Baltimore’s 2012 run to the Super Bowl, he threw 11 touchdown passes without an interception, his most notable being the 70-yarder to Jones in the double OT win.

The Broncos eventually recovered from that devastating defeat to win a Super Bowl in Manning’s final game. But they’ve gone just 20-28 since then while churning through quarterbacks, coaches and offensive coordinators.

The Broncos lost their final four games last season to finish 6-10, marking their first back-to-back losing seasons since the Nixon Administration.

More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/tag/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

AP Sports Writer Dave Ginsburg contributed.

Follow Arnie Melendrez Stapleton on Twitter: http://twitter.com/arniestapleton

Miami Heat’s Dwyane Wade, left, and Dallas Mavericks’ Dirk Nowitzki, right, talk as they swap jerseys after an NBA basketball game in Dallas, Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2019. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
https://www.sunburynews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/48/2019/02/web1_122323172-c9ee086e3aae499980e69abd2dbeff9a.jpgMiami Heat’s Dwyane Wade, left, and Dallas Mavericks’ Dirk Nowitzki, right, talk as they swap jerseys after an NBA basketball game in Dallas, Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2019. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

Dallas Mavericks’ Dirk Nowitzki left, and Miami Heat’s Dwyane Wade, second from right, talk as they swap jerseys after an NBA basketball game in Dallas, Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2019. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
https://www.sunburynews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/48/2019/02/web1_122323172-044a15319fa24d0bb7d25e9c2aeca7e2.jpgDallas Mavericks’ Dirk Nowitzki left, and Miami Heat’s Dwyane Wade, second from right, talk as they swap jerseys after an NBA basketball game in Dallas, Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2019. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki (41) defends as Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade (3) shoots during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Dallas, Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2019. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
https://www.sunburynews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/48/2019/02/web1_122323172-9dc072a2768c4dc18c0e4aea0ff41fa9.jpgDallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki (41) defends as Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade (3) shoots during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Dallas, Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2019. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
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