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LeBron on Cavaliers' issues: "I stink"

CLEVELAND (AP) The Cleveland Cavaliers are struggling, and then some. LeBron James believes he's a major reason for their early failures.

"We got a four-game losing streak, so I stink," he said. "I'm not doing my job."

With the Cavs at 5-7, playing uninspired and not close to living up to enormous expectations, James offered the blunt critique of his own game Monday at the team's shootaround as they prepared to host the Orlando Magic.

After a day spent with family and watching football, James, who called the Cavs "fragile" following Saturday night's loss to the Toronto Raptors, said he has to do a better job leading the way. He's staying positive, cognizant that if he isn't upbeat his teammates will follow his example.

"Me being the leader of the team, if I start hanging my head low then it's going to start going to everyone else," he said. "They look up to me. They look to me to make a difference and I've got to stay positive even through the rough times. As I've said before, this is not the darkest point that we'll see this year. I've seen dark and this is very light to me."

Cleveland, picked by many to win the NBA title in James' homecoming season, went 0-4 last week with losses to Denver, San Antonio, Washington and Toronto. James wasn't himself, averaging just 18 points per game, committing a turnover in the closing seconds of the loss to the Spurs and inexplicably not hustling back on defense in the loss to the Wizards. He's made uncharacteristically foolish passes and shown frustration with his body language.

James has tried to send messages to his teammates during interview sessions.

After the loss to Toronto, he cautioned that the Cavs' problems would probably grow worse before they got better, a forecast that chilled some Cleveland fans already dealing with the onset of an early winter.

On Monday, James said the Cavs' tough times could linger.

"This is not the biggest adversity point that we'll hit," he said. "Do I think we're going to get to the finals? I don't know. I don't know what the future holds, but from my perspective it's not as bad as it may seem."

James' reference point for "dark" times is different from any of his teammates. He often sites the 2011 NBA Finals, when he and the Miami Heat squandered a 2-1 lead and lost in six games to the Dallas Mavericks, as the low point of his career.

The collapse haunts James.

"It's still here with me," he said. "I think about it every day. Every day at some point something that happened in that series pops in my head."

When he was in Miami, James had All-Star Dwyane Wade, a former NBA champion, to help him lead. He doesn't have that luxury in Cleveland. While Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love are elite players, neither have been through the grind of a championship season.

He's going it alone, and to this point the load has been heavy for James.

"It's a different feeling," he said. "But something I was ready for. I knew it would be the biggest challenge of my career thus far, and I accept the challenge. When we lose I take full responsibility and when we win the team wins, that's what it's all about."

Mon, 24 Nov 2014 18:50:00 +0000
Longtime NHL coach, executive Pat Quinn dies at 71

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) Pat Quinn, a former defenseman and longtime NHL coach and executive who brought a gruff and passionate presence to hockey across the decades, has died at 71.

He died Sunday night in Vancouver after a long illness, the Hockey Hall of Fame and the Western Hockey League's Vancouver Giants said Monday. Quinn was co-owner of the team.

Quinn played parts of nine seasons in the NHL and went on to coach the Philadelphia Flyers, Los Angeles Kings, Vancouver Canucks and Toronto Maple Leafs. Quinn guided Canada to the championship at the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City, the country's first gold medal in men's hockey in 50 years. He was behind the bench when Canada won the World Cup of Hockey in 2004.

"Pat Quinn was a giant of the hockey world, on the ice and off," Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said on Twitter.

Quinn coached Vancouver to the 1994 Stanley Cup final, the Canadian world junior team to gold in 2009 and helped the Maple Leafs reach the Eastern Conference finals two times.

"Whether he was playing for a team, coaching a team or building one, Pat Quinn was thoughtful, passionate and committed to success," NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement.

"Pat's contributions to hockey, at every level, reflected the skills he possessed and the great respect with which he treated the sport."

Broadcaster and executive John Davidson described Quinn as "a guy that loves the game so much that when he walks in, you know hockey's in the room."

Quinn led the Philadelphia Flyers to a 35-game unbeaten streak in the 1979-80 season that almost certainly will never be broken since ties have been taken out of the game. In 15 full seasons as an NHL coach, Quinn's teams missed the playoffs only three times. That success came over the span of decades, as a coach and executive.

"He's not unlike a Scotty Bowman in that they're really bright guys," said former Washington Capitals GM George McPhee, who worked under him in Vancouver and made his son Graham's middle name Quinn in tribute.

"They were really intelligent and they could see the trends, they could see the fads, the things that were going to come and go and the things that would stay. Very perceptive and he adjusted and advanced."

Quinn was admired by those close to him for having a heart to match his 6-foot-3, 200-plus-pound frame.

"He's a real guy's guy. He's a man's man," Florida Panthers GM Dale Tallon said. "He's just a straight shooter and called it like it is."

Quinn was born in Hamilton, Ontario, on Jan. 29, 1943. He bounced around the minors before making his NHL debut with the Leafs in 1968. In the 1969 playoffs, his blindside hit on Bobby Orr knocked out the legendary defenseman.

Quinn also played for the Canucks and Atlanta Flames before retiring in 1977 with an ankle injury. Almost immediately, he went into coaching and was an assistant on Fred Shero's staff in Philadelphia. During the 1978-79 season, he replaced Bob McCammon as the Flyers' coach.

"Pat brought a complete change to the game that we had made so successful under Shero," said Bobby Clarke, a Hall of Fame player for the Flyers, later their GM and now the team's senior vice president. "You trusted what he was trying to implement with our team."

Quinn became the coach of the Los Angeles Kings after his dismissal in Philadelphia. He left Los Angeles to take the job of president and GM in Vancouver.

He returned to coaching during the 1990-91 season and won his second coach of the year title with the Canucks the next season when they went 42-26-12.

Perhaps his most memorable accomplishment came when the Canucks, seeded seventh in the Western Conference, beat Calgary, Dallas and Toronto to reach the Stanley Cup final in the 1993-94 season.

The Canucks made it to Game 7 before losing to the New York Rangers.

Quinn went back to the front office in Vancouver, where he remained until he was fired by new ownership in 1997. Quinn returned to coaching in 1998 when he was hired by the Maple Leafs. Toronto went to the Eastern Conference final in his first season in 1998-99 and again in 2002. During the 2002 East final, Quinn missed two games with heart problems.

"He allowed himself to get overweight, he smoked the cigars and loved to socialize," Clarke said.

The Leafs made the playoffs in Quinn's first five seasons, which included a stint as president and GM.

He "had a presence in the dressing room that demanded respect and had a way of talking and getting the guys ready for each game that really got the best out of the teams that he coached," longtime Leafs captain Mats Sundin said.

Quinn was fired after the Leafs missed the playoffs in the first season after the 2004-05 lockout and the first one in the NHL played under a salary cap. After three years away, he coached the Edmonton Oilers for one season in 2009-10.

Quinn most recently spent time as chairman of the Hockey Hall of Fame.

"He was obviously very, very competitive when he coached and when he played and when he managed," said Davidson, president of the Columbus Blue Jackets and chairman of the Hall of Fame's selection committee. "But he's a guy that obviously wants to be around the game."

McPhee spoke of the impact Quinn left on people.

"Pat was one of the most phenomenal human beings I've ever known," he said. "A lot of us feel really, really lucky that we got to work for him."

Mon, 24 Nov 2014 18:59:00 +0000
Johnson, Martinez, Smoltz on Hall of Fame ballot

NEW YORK (AP) Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez and John Smoltz are among 17 newcomers on baseball's 2015 Hall of Fame ballot.

Craig Biggio, who fell two votes short of the 75 percent needed in the 2014 balloting, tops 17 holdovers on the Baseball Writers' Association of America ballot announced Monday. That group includes Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire, Mike Piazza, Jeff Bagwell and Tim Raines.

Johnson went 303-166 and won five Cy Young Awards. The Big Unit struck out 4,875 batters, second only to Nolan Ryan's 5,714.

Martinez, a three-time Cy Young winner, was 219-100 and struck out 3,154. He led the major leagues in ERA five times.

Smoltz is vying to join former Atlanta teammates Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine, who were inducted this year along with Chicago White Sox slugger Frank Thomas. Smoltz had a 213-155 record and 154 saves, the only pitcher with 200 wins and 150 saves. He was 15-4 in the postseason.

Carlos Delgado, Nomar Garciaparra, Gary Sheffield and players' association head Tony Clark also are among the first-time eligibles.

Don Mattingly will appear on the ballot for the 15th and final time after receiving 8 percent last year. The Hall's board voted in July to cut a player's eligibility from 15 years to 10 but grandfathered players in the 11-15 group, which also includes Alan Trammell (14th year) and Lee Smith (13th).

Players who have admitted steroids use or been tainted with accusations of use have fallen short.

McGwire, entering his next-to-last year of eligibility, received 11 percent last year, down from a peak of 25.6 in 2008.

Clemens, a seven-time Cy Young Award winner, dropped from 38 percent to 35 percent in his second ballot appearance. Bonds, a seven-time MVP and baseball's career home run leader, fell from 36 percent to 35. Sosa, who hit 609 homers, dropped from 13 percent to 7 and is close to falling below the 5 percent threshold for remaining on the ballot.

Voters are the approximately 600 writers who have been members of the BBWAA for 10 consecutive years at any point. Ballots must be postmarked by Dec. 27. Results will be announced Jan. 6.

Players elected, along with choices announced Dec. 8 by the golden era committee (1947-72), will be inducted July 26 at Cooperstown.

Tue, 25 Nov 2014 02:19:00 +0000
Taylor apologizes, won't appeal NBA suspension

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) An apologetic Jeffery Taylor said he will not appeal the NBA's 24-game suspension following his guilty plea on domestic violence charges.

The Hornets forward addressed the media on Monday and said he takes "full responsibility" for his actions and deemed NBA Commissioner Adam Silver's punishment "appropriate."

Taylor apologized to the Hornets organization, his teammates and the woman whom he assaulted at the hotel in East Lansing, Michigan in September. Taylor said he has met with general manager Rich Cho and addressed his teammates, but has not yet spoken to owner Michael Jordan.

The 25-year-old Taylor said he's "genuinely sorry for everything that happened."

The NBA Players Association last week called the suspension "excessive" and said it would support an appeal by Taylor.

Taylor chose not to appeal the suspension, which will cost him nearly $200,000 of his $915,000 salary this season.

"My actions were wrong and I don't care to appeal a decision that was based off my actions being wrong," Taylor said. "So I respect the league's decision on the suspension and I will take all of the necessary steps to make sure nothing like that ever happens again."

Taylor apologized repeatedly to the victim, but would not say if they are still romantically involved.

"There's not a day that doesn't go by that I don't regret what happened and wish I could go back and change everything and make one better decision," Taylor said.

Silver sent a stern message on the league's lack of tolerance for domestic violence last Wednesday when he suspended Taylor without pay for 24 games after Taylor pleaded guilty Oct. 29 to misdemeanor domestic violence assault and malicious destruction of hotel property.

Taylor is eligible to return to action Dec. 17 against Phoenix.

"While the suspension is significantly longer than prior suspensions for incidents of domestic violence by NBA players, it is appropriate in light of Mr. Taylor's conduct, the need to deter similar conduct going forward, and the evolving social consensus - with which we fully concur - that professional sports leagues like the NBA must respond to such incidents in a more rigorous way," Silver said in a release last week.

The NBA conducted an investigation into Taylor's arrest following an altercation with a woman with whom he was having a romantic relationship.

Taylor and the woman were drinking heavily at a hotel room and a loud argument ensued, prompting guests to call security, the league's statement outlined. The argument escalated and Taylor shoved the woman in a violent manner into the hallway where she fell to the ground and struck her head on an opposite door.

The statement also said Taylor slapped her arm and punched a hole in the wall near his hotel room. The woman had marks on her upper arm and a bump on her head but declined medical treatment, the report said.

Silver ordered Taylor to enter an outpatient alcohol treatment program and perform alcohol sensor tests daily for 60 days. After that, he is subject to random testing by the probation department. He must also perform 80 hours of community service.

Taylor said he didn't want to discuss the incidents of that morning or what was released in the commissioner's report.

He said he has already begun counseling and that alcohol is "something I need to remove from my life."

Domestic violence has been at the forefront of the national sports scene this year, ever since Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice punched his then-fiance in a hotel elevator. Taylor refused to blame the media focus on domestic violence as a reason for the severe punishment.

"I think it is appropriate and I respect the commissioner's decision," Taylor said.

A former second-round pick out of Vanderbilt, Taylor spent the last two seasons vying for playing time with Michael Kidd-Gilchrist before tearing his Achilles last year. He has averaged 6.6 points and 2.0 rebounds for his career.

As for how the suspension - and the negative publicity that comes with it - will affect his career, Taylor said that is not his primary concern.

"The basketball part will work itself out," Taylor said. "I'm more concerned with the person involved and making sure that she was OK and making sure my family was OK and working out the legal process. Basketball, at the end of the day, was not the most important part."

Mon, 24 Nov 2014 21:31:00 +0000
Pacquiao crushes Algieri; eyes Mayweather

MACAU -- Manny Pacquiao couldn't resist having a little fun after getting the signature win he desperately needed for the fight boxing fans desperately want to see.

No reason not to enjoy himself after sending Chris Algieri to the canvas six times Sunday night in a performance that will once again heat up talk of a fight with Floyd Mayweather Jr.

"He's going to fight me? Yes! Yes!," Pacquiao said, jumping up and down in the ring Sunday after tearing apart a reluctant Algieri on his way to a lopsided decision win. "I am ready to fight him next year."

Pacquiao was playing off a new commercial where he celebrates after thinking Mayweather has agreed to the match. But he might have boosted his stock enough to entice Mayweather into the ring finally.

"I really want that fight," Pacquiao said. "The fans deserve that fight."

Pacquiao got the big knockdowns he was looking for, battering Algieri around the ring at will Sunday in a lopsided welterweight title fight.

Pacquiao chased Algieri from the opening bell, knocking him down repeatedly and dominating. About the only thing Pacquiao didn't get was his first knockout in five years, settling instead for a lopsided 12-round unanimous decision against an opponent who seemed unwilling to engage.

By the time it was over, Algieri had gone down six times. And Pacquiao had dispelled notions he might be on the decline.

"It's not just his hand speed," Algieri said. "He's a great fighter. He does everything well. Manny has perfected his style of boxing."

Pacquiao prayed in his corner while waiting for the decision. But it was Algieri who never had a prayer.

Pacquiao knocked Algieri down once in the second round, two more times in the sixth and twice more in the ninth. After a final knockdown in the 10th round, he seemed to back off in a fight that had long been decided.

Two ringside judges scored the bout 119-103 while the third had it 120-102. The Associated Press had Pacquiao winning 120-102.

Pacquiao went into the fight saying he needed a power win to entice Mayweather to fight him. He vowed to put on a performance like some of his earlier fights and did, never letting Algieri get close.

Some of the sold out crowd of 13,202 at the Venetian Macau may have wondered whether Algieri deserved this fight, as he spent more time trying to stay away from Pacquiao than trading punches.

But while Algieri could run, he couldn't hide. Pacquiao caught him repeatedly with power punches and dropped him as he tried to back away.

"The master boxer was given a master class by professor Pacquiao tonight," trainer Freddie Roach said. "I was disappointed in Algieri's performance tonight. All he did was run."

Pacquiao's second fight in China was held at midday to accommodate the pay-per-view sales in the U.S., but the time of day didn't matter much to the Filipino fans who cheered on their 35-year-old national hero.

Pacquiao knocked Algieri down in the corner in the second round, though Algieri claimed it was a slip. He easily fought his way through Algieri's tentative defense, landing punches on the inside and piling up points.

Algieri came into the fight with a reputation for his jab, but he refused to commit to it early and simply pawed at Pacquiao with his left hand. Still, Algieri's corner somehow thought he was carrying out the game plan just the way they had drawn it up.

"You're doing beautiful man," trainer Tim Lane told his fighter after the third round. "Everything stays the same. Keep it up."

By the end of the fourth round, Pacquiao had already thrown more than 100 more punches than Algieri. And Algieri rarely stopped to set his feet to punch, and kept trying to run away from the champion's punching power.

Unfortunately for Algieri, things then went from bad to worse. Pacquiao caught him with a big left hand that sent Algieri sprawling on the canvas in the sixth round, almost turning a reverse somersault before finally landing in the corner.

Pacquiao was right back on him, and Algieri went down again late in the round as he tried desperately to survive.

Still, Algieri's corner urged him to continue to do what he was doing, long after he needed a knockout to win.

"This is the way we want to be," Lane told him. "This is what you wanted"

Algieri was an unlikely opponent despite being unbeaten in 20 fights after ending a kick boxing career to concentrate on boxing. He got the bout after being knocked down twice in the first round in his June fight with Ruslan Provodnikov and coming back to win a 12-round decision, and was supremely confident in the weeks before the fight that he would beat Pacquiao, too.

Oddsmakers made him a 7-1 underdog against the Filipino great, who came into determined to show he still had his punching power.

The bout was for a piece of the welterweight title held by Pacquiao, though it was fought at a catch weight of 144 pounds instead of 147.

Sun, 23 Nov 2014 07:19:11 +0000

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