76ers: F J.J. Reddick missed the game with lower back tightness.

Coach Justin Fuente’s club has won three in a row since dropping a 31-17 decision to Clemson, including a 59-7 rout of a North Carolina team that pushed Miami to the brink before losing 24-19 last week.

“Justin Fuente has done a really outstanding job — not just a good job, a great job — of putting his team together,” Richt said of the Hokies coach who, like Richt, is in his second season with his current team. “He has got a great place to coach, and I’m sure he inherited some wonderful players.

This game has been a key matchup for both teams since they began competing against each other on a regular basis back in the 1990s when they were Big East colleagues. After losing the first 12 meetings, Virginia Tech won five in a row from 1995-99 to really ignite the rivalry that has continued since both joined the ACC for the 2004 season.

The Mavericks opened the fourth quarter with a 9-0 run and kept the game close, but couldn’t regain the lead in their final outing before a two-game road trip.

Dario Saric started in Reddick’s place and had 12 points in 29 minutes. … Philadelphia led 57-56 at halftime.

Mavericks: F Dirk Nowitzki had 11 points and recorded his 1,788th career 3-pointer in the third quarter, moving past Rashard Lewis for sole possession of 13th place on the NBA all-time list. … 76ers assistant coach Jim O’Brien served as the Mavericks lead assistant during the 2012-13 season. … Dallas had won 11 straight at home against Philadelphia heading into Saturday.

The Mavericks’ bench helped keep the game close as Ferrell, Barea, Devin Harris and Dwight Powell all had a positive plus-minus showing. Nowitzki, who played with the group most of the game, was the only starter with a positive plus-minus while on the floor. “Generally when those guys were in we were digging out of some kind of hole,” Carlisle said.
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Contrarian NFL betting strategy for Week 7

Yesterday, I went out to my car to head to work and was greeted with a thin coat of frost on my windshield. Fall is finally here! Although we aren’t expected to see any games in freezing temperatures any time soon, something that is perhaps even more important to the outcomes of NFL games is wind.

But Elliott will still play in Week 1 while the NFLPA awaits a ruling on its attempt to block a suspension. That won’t come until Friday:

Just got out of court and got phone back. NFL took position Ezekiel Elliott CAN play Sunday. Judge rules by 5 pm Friday on restraining order

Although Agholor has three top-15 fantasy weeks under his belt this year, he finished 47th or worse in the other three weeks. Agholor has been on the field for 73 percent of the team’s pass plays and is handling a 15 percent target share (5.0 per game). That isn’t enough to sustain high-end fantasy production, let alone flex value.

Tom Brady has been as sharp as ever, but a lackluster defense has the Patriots in a three-way tie atop the AFC East — right alongside the Jets. The 2017 season was supposed to be a rebuilding year for New York, but wins over the Dolphins, Jaguars, and Browns have pushed a depleted roster over .500 after five games. The Jets are still looking for a quality win after beating some low-octane teams; toppling the defending champions would certainly qualify.

Derek Carr returned from injury in Week 6, but he was limited to 21 completions on 30 attempts for 171 yards, one touchdown and a pair of interceptions. Carr has exactly one touchdown in three straight games (though one was the injury-shortened Week 4 outing), and hasn’t eclipsed 171 passing yards since Week 2. Despite Carr’s improvement in play over the past two years, his yards per attempt (7.0) were below league average both season.steelers_033

This strategy isn’t going to work well for Carolina.

The remade Celtics, with their collection of A-minus/B-plus max players, have a lot to prove before we bump them into the hallowed tier above. They were only a hair better than league average on defense last season, and they tossed away two ballhawks — Avery Bradley and Jae Crowder — in turning over 75 percent of their roster.

Rebounding will be an issue again, though Brad Stevens may deploy Aron Baynes as something of a utility glass-eating starter. Opponents shot just 33 percent from deep and 34 percent on corner 3s — the second-lowest marks in the league. How much of that was luck? We’ll see. Boston is stocked with huge wings; Gordon Hayward starts as the nominal shooting guard. If the team switches a ton, dial in on closeouts, and gang rebound, Boston will retain some of last season’s peskiness.

Touchdown, Panthers. After a 25-yard return from McCaffrey, a season-best, the Panthers need just four plays and less than two minutes to get into the end zone. Newton scores on a 16-yard touchdown run and Gano’s extra point is good. The Panthers lead 10-3 with 10:34 remaining in the half.

Panthers running backs have four carries for minus-8 yards after one quarter.

Eagles defense showing up once again today. Have given up just one touchdown on last 14 possessions going back to last week.

Tilman Fertitta called off shooting for his reality show, “Billion Dollar Buyer,” one day this summer because he felt sick. His attempt to buy the Houston Rockets — 24 years after he finished second in the bidding for the franchise — had taken a toll on him.ravens_121

Patriots fans finally have power to end Deflategate, but they probably won’t

This really, really, really is … not the end of Deflategate.

Nobody’s naive enough to believe it is. If nothing else, the next act was all but telegraphed last week in the annual state-of-the-NFL press conference.

Roger Goodell talked around the idea of visiting Gillette Stadium again, about avoiding it the last two years, about the protocol of a commissioner going to a game involving one of the 32 teams he oversees.

And now that the Patriots have won another Super Bowl — their second since the day the PSI may or may not have been too low — we know almost exactly when the next chance for Goodell to visit Foxborough will be. It will be the first Thursday of next season, the banner-raising, the ring ceremony … the event he skipped two years ago.

If he shows up, he’ll get booed back into the Stone Age. If he skips it again, the crowd will shame-chant him again.

Former Bear and Super Bowl champion Gary Fencik and NFLPA president Eric Winston kicked off the program, and were quickly followed by U.S. Women’s National Team soccer player Brandi Chastain and NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr., who sat out much of the 2016 Cup Series season with concussion-related symptoms.

Said Springs, who played contact football for more than 20 years in high school, college and the NFL: “As we start to see the effects of football, we want to learn more. Why wouldn’t I give my brain to help with the research so people can become more educated and more aware?”

Although football has driven the national conversation about CTE, February as Brain Pledge Month is focused on expanding donations in other sports that involve frequent, repetitive blows to the head, such as soccer, hockey and lacrosse, as well activities related to military service.
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it’s not like his immediate durability is more questionable than that of Anderson.

That won’t fly under new offensive coordinator Mike McCoy, who is ready to ramp up the passing game. Dump-offs and other quick passes to backs in 2017 will be a much bigger part of what Denver does. In the running game, with McCoy and new offensive line coach Jeff Davidson, the Broncos are transitioning from zone blocking to gap-based power blocking.

Both the passing attack and the run-blocking scheme fall in line with Charles’ strengths. The Broncos can’t afford to trust Booker in a bigger role or give Henderson too much of one early in his career. Charles is looking at a No. 2 role at worst as the preferred primary insurance to Anderson.

As Anderson and Booker adjust to an altered scheme and rebound from their respective adversities, Charles is an ideal, low-risk, high-reward signing. The only question mark regarding Charles’ production in Denver in a complementary role is health. But at this point, it’s not like his immediate durability is more questionable than that of Anderson.

Throughout the offseason, it had been uncertain whether the Broncos would go big and bold to address their backfield. It came down to being aggressive early in the draft and selecting either Christian McCaffrey or Dalvin Cook. They picked neither.

The knee-jerk reaction? Winner, Houston Texans. Winner, Bill O’Brien. Winner, Watson. Winner, winner, winner.

Houston has posted a 9-7 record three straight seasons with O’Brien while starting eight different quarterbacks, and Watson was the backup plan after the Texans couldn’t land Tony Romo in the aftermath of the Osweiler trade. Trubisky and Mahomes were top 10 picks, but Watson will have the most success among that group in 2017 and beyond.

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Cris Carter pledges to help Michael Floyd’s journey into recovery

Hall of Famer Cris Carter says he’s there for Michael Floyd and wants to be a mentor to the Vikings’ new receiver.

According to Twincities.com, Carter and Floyd spoke earlier about their shared history of battling alcohol abuse.

The former Alabama star, picked No. 8 overall by the Raiders in 2010, has had issues with substance abuse the past couple of years. The NFL suspended him four games during the 2015 season for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy, and he was suspended 10 games in 2016 for again violating that policy. Although he was eligible to return late last season, the Cowboys did not activate him.

Last December, the NFL suspended McClain indefinitely for missing a drug test, which the league views equivalent to a failed test.

McClain had signed a one-year, $5 million deal with the Cowboys in March 2016.

Ogden reaching out to the NFL Trust paid relatively fast dividends. They got him a grant (from a fund named for longtime union executive director Gene Upshaw) to pay his rent, health insurance and bills for four months. The check arrived from the trust, he recalled, just as his aforementioned cars were about to be repossessed and his phone had been turned off. (He also got a health assessment through the trust and is keeping track of the post-career aches and the warning signs of degenerative brain disease.)

Long story short: It was.

Ogden, 36, whose older brother, Hall of Fame tackle Jonathan, was his Ravens teammate for two years, is in the middle of post-football career No. 2. He’s an entrepreneur, he’s married and has two daughters, he’s gotten football out of his system (he went to one last tryout in Vero Beach, Fla., for a CFL team last month, then called it quits) and, two years ago, he published a memoir, “Sleepless Nights,” with another in the works for next year.
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What will the San Francisco 49ers be thinking in the 2017 NFL Draft?

Yes. Even after Texas A&M edge rusher Myles Garrett (presumably) goes No. 1 to the Browns, the 49ers would be reaching if they tried to jump on a quarterback. The team also is not in a luxury position to take another offensive skill player, and the best offensive linemen in this class aren’t worth such high picks.

Although a safety such as LSU’s Jamal Adams or Ohio State’s Malik Hooker wouldn’t be shocking, San Francisco’s choice should come down to a couple of defensive lineman, Stanford’s Solomon Thomas or Alabama’s Jonathan Allen. Thomas is a better scheme fit and has the better overall pass-rush potential wherever he lines up in the 3-4. GM John Lynch can kick off his drafting career with a fellow Cardinal product who can be a cornerstone.

But will any of these first-round series end in an upset? The consensus from our panel is no. The Clippers-Jazz matchup is the closest, but most of our voters believe Los Angeles will emerge. Even Houston-Oklahoma City, which is a competitive battle between top MVP candidates Russell Westbrook and James Harden, is a series most believe the favorite will win.

That said, most of us are expecting these series to go long. Only a few of us predicted sweeps, even with the most lopsided of series.

The cliche is that leaders lead by example, but a leader’s true power comes from the authority that his subordinates grant him. There’s not much Chris Paul can do when he scores and scores, yet no one responds to his example. There’s not much that he can do when he forces turnovers even against bigger opponents, and his teammates turn around and give up easy buckets. There’s not much that he can do when he creates and his teammates miss great opportunities.
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Felix Hernandez and Mike Trout gave us the at-bat of the year so far in MLB

The best player in baseball and one of the best pitchers in the game squared off for an epic at-bat on Saturday night. Mike Trout and Felix Hernandez hooked up for a 14-pitch affair in the first inning in Anaheim.

Trout, the Angels superstar with two MVP awards and three runner-up finishes in his first five MLB seasons, fouled off nine pitches from the Seattle Mariners ace. But Hernandez, the 2010 AL Cy Young Award winner and two-time runner-up, got the better of the battle with a strikeout looking.

Hernandez also struck out Trout in the third inning and held the outfielder to 0-for-3 on the night, a rare bit of success against Trout, who is hitting .367/.409/.734 with seven home runs against Hernandez, the most home runs he has allowed to any player.

Hernandez left after six innings with a 3-3 tie, then Trout feasted off the Mariners bullpen, hitting a go-ahead home run in the seventh inning in the Angels’ 5-4 win.

But that 14-pitch at-bat was sure fun to watch.

This will be the 4-5 matchup, but home-court is still up in the air. A Clippers win in San Antonio, combined with a Jazz loss to a red-hot Damian Lillard and the Blazers, allowed L.A. to leap ahead. Utah closes with the top two teams in the West, so L.A. has the edge.

Current tiebreaker: The Clippers hold a 3-1 advantage over Utah.

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The Spurs, who lacked Kawhi Leonard, LaMarcus Aldridge, and Tony Parker due to injury, won by 22.

Last year, the Jaguars were lauded for their free agent moves. Unfortunately, a roster loaded with talent wasn’t enough to overcome Gus Bradley is coaching. The Giants, on the other hand, spent a bundle in free agency to give their defense an injection of talent, and it worked like a charm.

All we are saying here is not to let the excitement of being an armchair general manager cloud your grip on reality.

To further dampen your enthusiasm, we should make one important note about this list. Many of these names, especially the players near the top, will not actually make it to the open market. Good teams don’t make a habit of letting their best players slip away. Players will get the franchise tag or sign a new deal outright before the tampering window opens on March 7.

This is exactly what happened the week of Feb. 27. Teams started applying the tag, so names like Le haveon Bell who made this look like a pretty sweet list are no longer available.

There is owners that is not even around the teams, James said. Owners are just owner of the team because they own the team. It is whatever. What does that make any sense of?

Cleveland is resting of its All-Stars came one week after the Golden State Warriors rested Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green in a nationally televised game against the San Antonio Spurs. The Warriors rested their starters on a tail end of a stretch that included seven of eight games on the road and two cross-country flights.

The Spurs, who lacked Kawhi Leonard, LaMarcus Aldridge, and Tony Parker due to injury, won by 22.20

Tom Brady’s Super Bowl performance has Mike Vick reconsidering his NFL retirement

Quarterback Mike Vick is already considering an NFL return just days after announcing his retirement.

Two days before Super Bowl 51, the longtime Atlanta Falcons and Philadelphia Eagles quarterback decided to hang up the cleats. It was perfect timing — Vick made his decision at the pinnacle of the excitement around Atlanta.

And then Tom Brady did what he does and orchestrated the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history. The Falcons blew a 25-point lead in a game that was quickly dubbed the worst football loss ever.

Per TMZ, it was Brady’s miraculous efforts in the Patriots’ comeback that inspired Vick to “[leave] the door open.”

“I’m getting cold feet man,” Vick said in an interview on the day following the Super Bowl and his retirement party. “As of right now I’m officially retired, but I’m gonna continue to work out, get myself in tip-top shape and just leave the door open.”

“Congratulations to the greatest team, the greatest coach, and the greatest quarterback of all time for winning their fifth Super Bowl victory in Houston,” Mayor Marty Walsh said in a statement. “The Patriots have made Boston and New England proud — fire up the duck boats!”

Just like in the Patriots’ 2015 Super Bowl parade, it appears as though the weather will be a factor, with a mix of snow and rain expected, as well as temperatures in the mid-30s and some pretty intense wind gusts.

Walsh said that based on past attendance, anywhere from 500,000 to 1 million fans could attend the festivities.

The city of Boston has more details about the parade route and road closures for anyone who wants to celebrate a fifth Super Bowl with Brady and Co.