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James Harden says he did everything he could for the Rockets. He’s wrong.

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James Harden says he did everything he could for the Rockets. He's wrong.

The final score of Tuesday night’s game between the Lakers and Rockets belied just how thoroughly Los Angeles dominated Houston.

LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Co. jumped out to a 35-14 advantage by the end of the first quarter and led by as many as 30 points in the third on the way to a 117-100 victory. The Rockets sat on their bench in despair. The Lakers hopped out of their seats to celebrate when James launched a corner 3-pointer and turned toward his bench while the ball was still in the air.

MORE: NBA fans react to Harden’s postgame bombshell

So when Harden arrived at the podium after the loss, his general demeanor and tone didn’t shock anyone. Houston has lost four of its past five games (3-6 overall, 14th in the Western Conference), and Harden is averaging just 17.4 points and shooting 37.8 percent from the field in that span.

“[We’re] just not good enough,” Harden said. “Obviously chemistry, talent-wise, just everything. And it was clear, like I said, these last few games. They just, from the beginning of the game, they were just aggressive. Veteran team, obviously, championship team, one of the best teams that we have in this league.”

The big surprise came when Harden, who has been at the center of trade reports, rumors and speculation since November, followed up those comments by saying the quiet part out loud.

“I love this city. I literally have done everything that I can,” Harden said. “I mean, this situation is crazy. It’s something that I don’t think can be fixed. Thanks.”

And with that, he walked away.

Harden has given the Rockets a lot. Since joining the team in 2012, Harden has scored more than 18,000 points and led Houston to eight consecutive playoff berths, including Western Conference finals appearances in 2015 and 2018. He is an eight-time All-Star and former MVP. He isn’t just one of the NBA’s top scorers — he is an entire offensive system. 

But here’s the thing: Harden hasn’t done everything that he can.

He didn’t show up for training camp on time. He flouted the league’s COVID-19 protocols by partying maskless in multiple cities. He forced Stephen Silas to answer questions about his status rather than his first campaign as an NBA head coach. He isn’t close to being in game shape. He doesn’t seem interested in attempting to make a connection with his teammates, especially Rockets guard John Wall.

“I think it’s been a little rocky,” Wall said of his relationship with Harden. “Can’t lie about that. I don’t think it’s been the best it could be, to be honest. That’s all I really could say.”

Houston does bear some responsibility in this situation. The Rockets’ culture has been, as a former staffer told ESPN’s Tim MacMahon, “Whatever James wants.” Superstars always hold a fair amount of power and influence with their organizations, but Houston tipped the scales too far.

That’s also a good reason why Harden shouldn’t be acting this way. The Rockets have bent over backward to accommodate him, firing coach Kevin McHale and trading away Dwight Howard and Chris Paul because Harden reportedly pushed for those moves. Houston is simply asking the 31-year-old to be a professional as it seeks a reasonable trade package.

If Harden had reported to training camp in a timely fashion and put his talent on full display to start the season, he wouldn’t have just been doing the right thing for the Rockets. Trade suitors may have been more eager to pull the trigger after seeing a motivated Harden consistently drop 30-plus points on his opponents. The asking price would have gone up. He would be much closer to his goal of leaving Houston. He is only hurting himself.

Harden and the Rockets appear to have reached a breaking point, but things didn’t have to end this way. It didn’t have to get this ugly. Despite what Harden says, he could have done more.

Editor’s note: This article was published before the Rockets traded Harden to the Nets as part of a four-team deal.

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What channel is Conor McGregor vs. Dustin Poirier 2 on tonight? How to watch, buy UFC 257 on pay-per-view

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What channel is Conor McGregor vs. Dustin Poirier 2 on tonight? How to watch, buy UFC 257 on pay-per-view

Conor McGregor is coming out of retirement (again) to face off against Dustin Poirier (again) at UFC 257.

McGregor (22-4) first met Poirier (26-6-1) in the Octagon in 2014, securing a first-round TKO to improve his record to 16-2 at the time. That said, this will be McGregor’s first fight in over a year after securing a TKO victory over Donald Cerrone on Jan. 18, 2020. Prior to that, his last UFC match came two years earlier: a defeat via submission to Khabib Nurmagomedov in October 2018. Will that relative time off have any effect on the fight?

Poirier has been slightly more active recently, going 2-1 in his last three fights in 2019 and ’20. Curiously, his only loss — and second-to-last fight — was also a defeat to Nurmagomedov, also via submission.

MORE: Save over 30% when you buy UFC 257 and an ESPN+ Annual Plan for only $89.98

Speaking of which: There’s a slim chance Nurmagomedov could come out of retirement if he sees “something spectacular” out of McGregor or Poirier in their rematch. Something to consider as the fighters face off for the second time in the Octagon.

In all, 11 fights will take place before McGregor and Poirier face off in their rematch. With that, here’s everything you need to know to watch McGregor vs. Poirier 2, as well as the rest of the UFC 257 card:

What channel is UFC 257 on tonight?

UFC 257 will be split into early prelims, prelims and the main card. All three stages of the fight can be seen on ESPN+ and, in the case of the preliminaries, ESPN.

  • UFC 257 early prelims TV channel: ESPN+
  • UFC 257 prelims TV channel: ESPN, ESPN+
  • UFC 257 main card channel: ESPN+

In Canada, the early prelims are on UFC Fight Pass, the prelims are on TSN and RDS, and the main card PPV can be ordered via major cable providers and UFC PPV on UFC Fight Pass.

What time does Conor McGregor vs. Dustin Poirier 2 start?

Each stage of the McGregor-Poirier fight card has multiple fights, so it’s uncertain when exactly the two fighters will begin their ring walks. The early preliminaries, which start at 7 p.m. ET, have two fights; the prelims, which start at 8 p.m. ET, have four; the main card, which starts at 10 p.m. ET, has five (not including McGregor vs. Poirier). With that in mind, it’s likely the two won’t begin their rematch till midnight or later.

Here are the start times for the early prelims, preliminaries and main card at UFC 257:

  • Date: Saturday, Jan. 23
  • Early prelims: 7 p.m. ET
  • Prelims: 8 p.m. ET
  • Main card: 10 p.m. ET
  • Live stream: ESPN+

How much does UFC 257 cost on PPV?

The main card is available to stream on ESPN+ for the pay-per-view cost of $69.99 for current subscribers. ESPN is also offering a bundle of $89.98 for new subscribers, which includes the fight and a year’s subscription to the streaming service — a savings offer of 30 percent.

Earlier fights are available for free on ESPN+ though, in the case of the early prelims, fans will need access to UFC Fight Pass. The preliminaries will also be available on ESPN.

UFC 257 fight card

Main card

  • Conor McGregor vs. Dustin Poirier (lightweight)
  • Dan Hooker vs. Michael Chandler (lightweight)
  • Jessica Eye vs. Joanne Calderwood (women’s flyweight)
  • Matt Frevola vs. Ottman Azaitar (lightweight)
  • Marina Rodriguez vs. Amanda Ribas (women’s strawweight)
  • Andrew Sanchez vs. Makhmud Muradov (middleweight)

Prelims

  • Nasrat Haqparast vs. Arman Tsarukyan (lightweight)
  • Brad Tavares vs. Antonio Carlos Junior (middleweight)
  • Julianna Pena vs. Sara McMann (women’s bantamweight)
  • Khalil Rountree Jr vs. Marcin Prachnio (light heavyweight)

Early prelims

  • Movsar Evloev vs. Nik Lentz (catchweight)
  • Amir Albazi vs. Zhalgas Zhumagulov (flyweight)

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What time is Conor McGregor’s fight today? UFC 257 schedule, PPV card start time vs. Dustin Poirier

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What time is Conor McGregor's fight today? UFC 257 schedule, PPV card start time vs. Dustin Poirier

Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier will face off for only the second time in their storied careers at UFC 257 on Saturday.

McGregor (22-4) is favored in the rematch against Poirier following his first-round TKO victory in their 2014 bout. That said, the No. 4-ranked fighter in the UFC lightweight division hasn’t fought in over a year, and only once since 2018. Poirier, the division’s top challenger, has had a little more action in the Octagon, fighting three times in the last two years.

Here’s everything you need to watch the entire McGregor vs. Poirier 2 card, including the start time and price for the PPV card on ESPN+.

MORE: Save over 30% when you buy UFC 257 and an ESPN+ Annual Plan for only $89.98

What time does UFC 254 main card start?

  • Date: Saturday, Jan. 23
  • Early prelims: 7 p.m. ET
  • Prelims: 8 p.m. ET
  • Main card: 10 p.m. ET
  • Live stream: ESPN+

The main card of UFC 257 is scheduled to start at 10 p.m. ET, following the early prelims (7 p.m. ET) and preliminaries (8 p.m. ET).

How to watch UFC 257: Conor McGregor vs. Dustin Poirier

Fans will need ESPN+ to watch the entire UFC 257 card, from the early prelims to preliminaries to the main card. The early prelims are also available on UFC Fight Pass; the preliminaries are available on ESPN; the main card is pay-per-view.

In Canada, early prelims are on UFC Fight Pass, prelims continue on TSN and RDS, and the PPV main card is available to purchase via major cable providers and UFC Fight Pass.

How much does UFC 257 cost? PPV price for McGregor vs. Poirier

The UFC 257 main card is only available via pay-per-view on ESPN+ (which requires a subscription). The PPV price is $69.99 for current subscribers. New subscribers, however, can pay a bundle price of $89.98 for both the UFC 257 main card and a year-long ESPN+ subscription — saving over 30 percent.

Click here to learn about the different pricing and bundling options with the ESPN+ platform.

Where is UFC 257?

UFC 257 will take place at Fight Island at the Flash Forum on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi, though fans will not attend due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. It will be both fighters’ first time fighting at the venue. Fight Island has hosted 10 previous UFC events prior to Saturday’s rematch between McGregor and Poirier, including UFC 251, 253 and 254.

Conor McGregor record

  • Name: Conor McGregor
  • Nationality: Irish
  • Born: July 14, 1988
  • Height: 5-9
  • Reach: 74 inches
  • Total fights: 26
  • Record: 22-4

Dustin Poirier record

  • Name: Dustin Poirier
  • Nationality: American
  • Born: Jan. 19, 1989
  • Height: 5-9
  • Reach: 72 inches
  • Total fights: 33
  • Record: 26-6-1

UFC 257 fight card

Main card

  • Conor McGregor vs. Dustin Poirier (lightweight)
  • Dan Hooker vs. Michael Chandler (lightweight)
  • Jessica Eye vs. Joanne Calderwood (women’s flyweight)
  • Matt Frevola vs. Ottman Azaitar (lightweight)
  • Marina Rodriguez vs. Amanda Ribas (women’s strawweight)
  • Andrew Sanchez vs. Makhmud Muradov (middleweight)

Prelims

  • Nasrat Haqparast vs. Arman Tsarukyan (lightweight)
  • Brad Tavares vs. Antonio Carlos Junior (middleweight)
  • Julianna Pena vs. Sara McMann (women’s bantamweight)
  • Khalil Rountree Jr vs. Marcin Prachnio (light heavyweight)

Early prelims

  • Movsar Evloev vs. Nik Lentz (catchweight)
  • Amir Albazi vs. Zhalgas Zhumagulov (flyweight)

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Aaron Rodgers’ playoff record: Postseason success, NFC championships and Super Bowl wins

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Aaron Rodgers' playoff record: Postseason success, NFC championships and Super Bowl wins

The Green Bay Packers face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the NFC championship game Sunday, and it’s a chance for Aaron Rodgers to reach the Super Bowl for the second time.  

Rodgers was asked in his weekly press conference Wednesday whether that fifth NFC championship appearances adds any extra pressure to the moment.  

“No more pressure than usual,” Rodgers said. “I think a lot of times those storylines, pressure and those kinds of comments are good stuff for you to guys to write about. I think it starts with mentality and focus. Obviously, I put pressure on myself every week to perform.” 

Rodgers has enjoyed postseason success through 13 seasons as the Packers’ starter. The matchup against Tampa Bay is his 20th playoff start. Sporting News takes a closer look at that playoff track record.  

Aaron Rodgers’ playoff record

Rodgers is 11-8 as a starter in the postseason. The 11 wins are tied with former Dallas Cowboys quarterbacks Troy Aikman (11-4) and Roger Staubach (11-6).  

Four of Rodgers’ playoff losses were in games that went to overtime, and in three of those losses the Packers did not have an offensive possession.  

Only seven quarterbacks have more playoff wins. Tampa Bay’s Tom Brady (32-11) — Rodgers’ opponent Sunday – leads that list by a wide margin. Joe Montana (16-7), Terry Bradshaw (14-5), John Elway (14-7), Peyton Manning (14-13), Ben Roethlisberger (13-9) and Brett Favre (13-11) also have more playoff victories.  

Has Aaron Rodgers won a Super Bowl? 

Rodgers is 1-0 in the Super Bowl. He led Green Bay to a 31-25 victory against Pittsburgh in Super Bowl XLV on Feb. 6, 2011. Rodgers won Super Bowl MVP honors. He finished 24 of 39 passing for 309 yards and three TDs.  

Aaron Rodgers’ postseason stats  

Rodgers has a 64.3 completion percentage in 19 playoff starts. He averages 280.2 passing yards per game and has totaled 42 TDs with 12 interceptions in those games.  

Rodgers’ playoff record by round  

Rodgers is 4-2 in the wild-card round for his career. He’s also 5-3 in the divisional playoff round, with the latest victory a 32-18 win against the Rams in the NFC divisional playoffs last week.  

Rodgers is 1-3 in the NFC championship, however, heading into that fourth matchup.  

Aaron Rodgers in NFC championship games

Rodgers is 1-3 in NFC championship games. This marks Rodgers’ fifth appearance in the NFC championship game. He is one of 12 quarterbacks to appear in at least five conference championship games.  

Rodgers led the Packers to a 21-14 victory against the Bears in his first NFC championship appearance on Jan. 23, 2011.  

Green Bay has made three NFC championship appearances since. The Packers lost 28-22 to Seattle on Jan. 18, 2015 – a game in which the Seahawks trailed 19-7 with 5:04 remaining before a legendary comeback.  

The Packers lost 44-21 to Atlanta on Jan. 22, 2017; and San Francisco beat Green Bay 37-20 on Jan. 19, 2020.  

The difference? All of those games were on the road. Sunday marks the first time that Rodgers will start in the NFC championship game at Lambeau Field.  

Aaron Rodgers at Lambeau Field  

Rodgers is 5-2 in the playoffs at Lambeau Field. Rodgers is 75-18-1 as a starter in the regular season at home.  

The Packers clinched NFL championships at home in 1939, 1961, 1965 and 1967 before the NFL-AFL merger. Green Bay won its last NFC championship at Lambeau Field on Jan. 12, 1997 with a 30-13 victory against Carolina.  

The Packers lost their last NFC championship game at Lambeau Field on Jan. 20, 2008. The Giants beat the Packers 23-20 in Favre’s last game with the Packers. Rodgers took over as the starter the following season.  

Aaron Rodgers vs. Tom Brady  

To get back to the Super Bowl, Rodgers will have to go through Brady, who has 14 conference championship appearances, nine Super Bowl appearances and six Super Bowl championships.  

Brady is 2-1 in head-to-head matchups against Rodgers, including Tampa Bay’s 38-10 victory in Week 6.  

Davante Adams, who is Rodgers’ leading receiver with the Packers, knows that’s the narrative this week. From Ryan Wood via the Green Bay Press-Gazette:  

It’s safe to say the Packers are doing everything they can to take the pressure off Rodgers in his latest NFC championship start.  

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