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Magic Sneak Past Suns 98-90

It was the last one of a five-game road trip, and the Orlando Magic sat at 2-2 during the trip. This win was important as they prepared to make their way back home to face Atlanta, and Orlando knew it. Going in, you could tell that each member of the Magic wanted to win. But maybe even more importantly, throughout the entire game, you could tell something else. This is truly a team that is one unified unit. And if they can continue to play that way, they may just overcome the troubles they faced early in the season.

Each Orlando player put in a great effort on Sunday when they faced the Phoenix Suns, and all that effort paid off. Rookie Andrew Nicholson was one of the biggest heroes of the night, scoring a career-high of 19 points in the fourth quarter alone; two of which came when he suck a 14-footer after just coming off the bench. That put the Magic close to their winning number, putting them up in the game 97-88. Nicholson also took 9 rebounds during the game and made 9 out of 11 of his shots.

But it wasn’t as though the Magic took the entire game to find their stride.  J.J. Redick scored 14 points the first time he stepped out onto the court; and he scored three during the second half.

The Suns put in a good showing, especially considering that they were dealing with a fair share of injuries. P.J Tucker was out for his second game in a row due to an injured right knee, forcing the Suns to go with their fourth starting lineup of the season.

But while the Suns may have lost by only eight points, this one’s going to hurt more than that. Sunday’s game marks the team’s seventh straight loss, their longest losing streak since 2004.

Vanderbilt to Challenge NC State in 2012 Music City Bowl

The Music City Bowl is going to be held, where else, in Nashville, Tennessee on December 31 and this year it sees an unlikely going up against a team that is looking to win its fourth straight bowl. Add in some coach drama, and the Music City Bowl is one great way to ring in the New Year!

While it’s North Carolina State’s first time to Nashville, they did go to Charlotte last year and in 2010 showed up to play in Orlando, Florida for another bowl game. After N.C. State’s head coach Tom O’Brien was fired, offensive coordinator Dana Bible will step in as interim head coach for the big bowl game.

On the other side of the ball, Vanderbilt has been to Nashville to play in the Music City Bowl game, back in 2008; and they have made it to bowl games within Tennessee lines the past three consecutive years. But they’ve only made six bowl appearances in history; and it’s the first time they’ve ever played bowls in back to back years. And while N.C. State may be looking to fix their coaching problems, Vanberbilt’s James Franklin just had his contract extended thanks to the two most recent bowl berths.

N.C. State is definitely going to be a challenge for Vanderbilt. But the Wolfpack also has some serious fire in its belly and the Commodores might just be Vanderbilt needs for people to finally start taking them as seriously as they should.

Patriots Defeat Dolphins to Win AFC East

The New England Patriots didn’t take their game against the Miami Dolphins on Sunday lightly. Knowing that now was not the time for reckless mistakes, the Pats played it safe. It was a smart move, as they defeated the Dolphins 23 — 16, and gave them their twelfth winning season in a row.

It was the sixth consecutive win for the New England Patriots, but it definitely wasn’t their best game of the bunch. They finished the game with only 321 yards; and Brady going 24 for 40 for 238 yards. He was also sacked four times by the Dolphins‘ tough defense, and intercepted once.

But while it wasn’t a great showing on the part of New England, it was the Dolphins’ mistakes that really gave the Patriots the AFC East.

Two of those mistakes were incredibly costly, and both made by Ryan Tannehill as he couldn’t connect with Brian Hartline when the wide receiver went deep and was wide open. And while his running game proved solid, Tannehill also finished the day with just 13 for 29 for 186 yards.

An illegal blocking penalty on Reggie Bush also proved to be fatal for the Dolphins, as this negated a touchdown scored after Reshad Jones made an interception and then returned the ball for 30 yards. Had that counted, the Dolphins would have been much closer to taking the win. Instead they have seriously hurt their playoff chances as they gear up to face the 49ers this coming weekend.

Bear Down! Injured Bears Send Vikings Packing

The Chicago Bears were just one game ahead of the Minnesota Vikings when they went into Sunday’s game; and they were a team in trouble. On a losing streak, and looking as though they might be playing without star quarterback Jay Cutler, it was going to take a lot to pull out a win against the Vikings. But while Cutler was there and helped lead his team to a 28 — 10 victory, the Bears surrendered several players for the win.

Throwing for 188 yards and a touchdown, and connecting on nearly every pass, Jay Cutler showed no signs of the concussion that kept him out of last week’s game against the 49ers. Unfortunately, the same could not be said for Devin Hester, Matt Forte, and Charles Tillman — all who suffered injuries in the game against the Vikings.

With about five minutes left in the first half on Sunday, the Bears announced that Hester would not be returning for the game due to a concussion that he received in the first half. It’s still unclear as to when during the first half he received that concussion.

Coming back from halftime, the third quarter didn’t get much better for the Bears. Matt Forte ran off the field halfway through, and seemed to be favoring his right leg. It was announced later that he had suffered an injury to his right ankle; and Tillman was also removed from the game with an ankle injury.

It was also during the third quarter that both Bears’ starting guards, Lance Louis and Chris Spencer, were removed from the game — this time, both knee injuries.

At the end of the game, it looked as though Jay Cutler may be the only Bear in fine form. It’s definitely not rare to see this happen to a team more than halfway through a very tough season. But it will be interesting to see how Chicago compensates for these injuries as they prepare for Sunday’s game against the Seahawks.

Lakers Now 4-out-of-5 Against Rockets!

Mike D’Antoni may have only officially been the head coach of the L.A. Lakers for a few days but already, his influence can be seen and felt on the Lakers court. That much has been evident throughout his current stint as head coach, even if it has been only a short run so far. But it may not have been any clearer than it was on Sunday night, as the Lakers routed past the Rockets, and defeated them 119-108.

Kobe Bryant had an outstanding night with 22 points altogether, 11 rebounds, and 11 assists. During the game, Bryant also reached for his 18th career triple-double, which gave the Lakers a huge edge in the win; as well as three of the 10 steals the Lakers made during the game.

D’Antoni isn’t even on the court yet, or on the players’ bench. Instead, he waits and watches in the Lakers’ locker room, due to recent knee surgery, in which he had one replaced. Bernie Bickerstaff, the interim coach, is instead taking the place on the bench, but that doesn’t mean that D’Antoni’s drive and spirit can’t be felt. The plays being made on the court now are vastly different than what they looked like even in October; and it’s D’Antoni’s playbook that the Lakers have to thank for it.

Jeremy Lin was also on the court, although playing on the side of the Rockets, and he went into the Lakers locker room afterwards to visit his former coach briefly. His words afterwards sum up why the Lakers are doing so well under his coaching style.

“He’s the ultimate players’ coach. I think he just gets it. He knows how to get the most out of his players. [The Lakers] will be just fine. What you saw tonight, they’ll probably be able to do pretty consistently, in terms of moving the ball and spacing,” Lin said.

The Lakers will look to extend their winning streak as they face the Brooklyn Nets tonight.

Steelers Fall to Ravens 13-10

This weekend saw the Pittsburgh Steelers get trampled by the Baltimore Ravens in Pittsburgh. The close yet painful loss reminds Steelers’ fans of the loss of their star quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger–who is currently out indefinitely due to shoulder and torso injuries. It was a particularly painful game for Steelers’ quarterback Byron Leftwich, the Roethlisberger sub who got pummeled and couldn’t quite get his offense down the field against a superior display of stoppage by Baltimore’s defense.

Even as the first half came to a close, the Steelers were feeling the pressure. Significant plays were going to be needed by the waning Steelers in the second half, but in the third quarter, Leftwich used up two timeouts after two plays–neither effort yielded any Steelers points–which would’ve been useful in the last five minutes when they could’ve actually used them as Baltimore ran out the clock. Leftwich later told reporters that he “just couldn’t get a rhythm”.

He ended the night with a 46% completion ratio for 201 yards, and he scored on a run. That’s okay. Everyone has an off night. But he also threw an interception and was put down by the Ravens’ defense three times. At one point, Leftwich took a huge hit from Baltimore’s James Ihedigbo, which sidelined him long enough for Pittsburgh doctors assess that he didn’t have any rib damage. Pittsburgh also lost two turnover opportunities with both times resulting in Ravens’ points.

In the end, the Steelers’ missed opportunities, the poor performance by Leftwich, the Ravens‘ overpowering defense in the second-half, and a missing Roethlisberger on the roster resulted in the Steelers chalking up yet another loss.

WWE Superstar Triple-H Talks WrestleMania 29

WrestleMania 29 is coming to the MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey on April 7, 2013, and tickets are already on sale. This is an annual event that, according to WWE superstar, Triple-H, is similar to the World Series or the Super Bowl — only better. He talked about why, and what mania-goers can expect, when he recently sat down with the New York Post to talk about the upcoming event.

When the Post asked Triple-H why people should attend the event, if they’re on the fence about buying tickets, he stated, “You don’t have to be a football fan to go to the Super Bowl, and that’s really what this is. There’s Super Bowls, there’s World Series, and there’s WrestleMania. It’s one of those events that just becomes the talk of the world.”

But Triple-H also points to the fact that while you may be able to include Super Bowls in talks about WrestleMania, wrestling does have one thing over football. That’s simply that more people seem to like it. When talking about how the Super Bowl will also be held at MetLife Stadium in 2014, Triple-H goes so far to state that it won’t be nearly as successful as the upcoming WrestleMania.

“I think [the NFL will have big shoes to fill] because we’ve outdrawn the Super Bowl for a little while now in the arenas and stadiums that we’ve followed them in for the Super Bowl. We’ve gone in after and surpassed their ticket sales,” he says.

But it’s more than ticket sales. Triple-H also talks about how WrestleMania simply has much more to offer than any Super Bowl ever could.

“WrestleMania isn’t just a one-night event, it’s a week-long event,” he says. “All of the things we do in the New York-New Jersey area. We’ll have events on both sides of the Hudson. From WrestleMania Axxess, which is our fan event that goes on all week, which is going to be revamped this year with a lot more meet-and-greet and autograph signings with our superstars, which is the biggest part of it. There’s also going to be a VIP experience that allows fans unprecedented access to backstage and the inner workings of what happens on a Monday Night Ray or Pay-Per-View event. That’s going to be a really unique experience. From that taking place at Izod Center to Hall of Fame being at Madison Square Garden, to Raw the next night being back at the Izod Center, to WrestleMania itself, there is going to be stuff that happens all week long. We come in and take over the whole area.”

And while there sure is going to be a lot going on in the New York area during the week of WrestleMania, we refuse to draw a comparison between this event and the Super Bowl. We figure that if you’re in the area, you should attend both!

Mike D’Antoni is the Lakers’ New Head Coach

After former Lakers‘ coach, Mike Brown, was fired on Friday talk immediately began surrounding who would take the position over. It came down to another former Lakers’ coach, Phil Jackson, or former Knicks coach, Mike D’Antoni. For many, Jackson was the obvious choice with multiple championships under his belt; and one who many consider the greatest coach ever in the NBA. But Mike D’Antoni brought something to the table that even Jackson couldn’t — a reputation as being the offense king. And in the end, that’s what the Lakers were looking for.

Truthfully, either coach could be considered as one of the best offensive coaches of all time. But Jackson’s Triangle strategy wasn’t as good a fit for the Lakers as D’Antino’s up-tempo system. Mitch Kupchak, Lakers’ general manager, said that while the Triangle system is effective, he thinks that it may take some of the newer players too long to adapt to it. D’Antino also had one thing that Jackson didn’t — he’s worked with Steve Nash before, in Phoenix, and the two were very successful together. Now, fans are hoping that they’ll bring some of that to the Staples Center, too.

Of course, whenever Dwight Howard’s on a team, you must consider how he’ll work with any new coach he’s asked to. D’Antoni seemed on board there too, says that he’s going to be using Howard a lot in gameplay, and that was also a huge consideration for the Lakers. Kobe Bryant on the other hand, called D’Antoni a “genius” after the hiring was made official; and looks forward to his offensive style of play.

Is Charles Tillman the NFL Defensive Player of the Year?

We’re at about the midway point of the NFL season, and not only does that leave fans wondering who’s going to make it to the Super Bowl, it also has them wondering who’s going to be taking awards home at the end of the year. One of the most talked about awards this year is the NFL Defensive Player of the Year award; and Charles Tillman of the Chicago Bears is one of the biggest names being thrown around to win it. So the question is, will he?

It’s hard to say. Tillman has had an incredible season this year, getting 43 tackles in, 2 interceptions, and a whopping 7 forced fumbles. He has been one of the biggest problems on the field for some of the best receivers, including Calvin Johnson; and he’s especially prone to taking the ball away from the other team to give his team another chance to score. All of it adds up to a very good argument for giving Charles Tillman the NFL Defensive Player of the Year award this season.

But it’s still early. And out of the ten years that he’s played, this is the first time Tillman has given himself elite status. Not to mention the fact that linebacker J.J. Watts is most likely also going to be up for the award; and he’s going to be a tough one to beat.

But let’s remember that it’s a season award and not a career award; and Tillman has had an outstanding year. And comparing Watts against Tillman is difficult, because their two positions are uniquely different. Whether or not Tillman will win Defensive Player of the Year will depend on what the league is looking for when they hand it out; and whether or not he can remain injury-free. But there’s no doubt that so far, Tillman has made a very good case for himself when it comes to winning the award this year.

Atlanta Falcons Still Undefeated

The Atlanta Falcons became the only NFL team still left undefeated after they beat the Dallas Cowboys 19 — 13 on Sunday night, putting their season up to a perfect 8 — 0 so far. And perhaps one of the most amazing things is that they did it without two of their most powerful defensive players — Peria Jerry and Sean Weatherspoon.

Sean Weatherspoon sat the game out, dealing with a sprained right ankle, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t do his part. Hobbling up and down the sideline, making calls, and helping everyone out with where they were supposed to be, Weatherspoon was as much part of this win as any other Falcon on the team. And so was Peria Jerry. The defensive tackle has been riddled with knee injuries for the past two years, and swelling around the area after he injured it during the first half took him out of the game against Dallas.

The injury is not serious though, and both Jerry and Weatherspoon are thought to be back on the field this week. This has fans even more excited to see what these Falcons are made out of, and not just Atlanta fans either. All NFL fans love to see a team have a great season — even if they’re only waiting for the fallout. That most likely won’t come next week, as the Falcons will face the New Orleans Saints, one of the worst teams in the league this year.

In fact, it’s thought that the Falcons will continue their perfect streak until they meet up with the New York Giants in Week 15. Whether the Falcons will be able to take that game or not is largely still up in the air; as the Giants are formidable opponents. But one thing’s for sure. Just like every other Atlanta Falcons game so far this year, that one against the Giants is going to be a great one to watch.

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