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John Wall fires back at despondent James Harden for giving up on Rockets

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John Wall fires back at despondent James Harden for giving up on Rockets

James Harden appears to be heading for a Houston Rockets exit after his frustrations boiled over following the team’s loss to the Lakers.

Harden reportedly wants to be traded to either the Philadelphia 76ers or another contender in the NBA, and the former MVP had a clear message after the Rockets were swept aside by defending champions the Lakers 117-100 on Tuesday.

The Rockets star walked out of his postgame news conference, not before telling the media: “I love this city. I literally have done everything that I can. This situation is crazy. It’s something that I don’t think can be fixed.”

Led by Harden, the Rockets have reached two Western Conference Finals, while Houston have three semifinal appearances since the eight-time All-Star was acquired from the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2012.

MORE: NBA fans reacts to James Harden’s Rockets bombshell

In 2019-20, points scored by Harden and points scored off his assists averaged 52.4 per game. It followed 53.9 in 2018-19, 51.3 in 2017-18 and 56 the season previous.

That marked four successive seasons with 50-plus points per game created, tying Oscar Robertson (1963-64 to 1966-67) for the longest streak in NBA history.

Harden averaged 34.3 points, 7.5 assists and 6.6 rebounds per game for the Rockets, who lost in the Western Conference semifinals at Walt Disney World Resort.

But Harden looks out of shape and out of sorts in 2020-21 amid links to the likes of the 76ers, Brooklyn Nets, Miami Heat and Toronto Raptors.

Harden made just five of 16 shots from the field, while he only nailed one of his six three-point attempts for 16 points in 31 minutes as the Rockets slumped to 3-6.

“We’re not even close, honestly, to that team – obviously the defending champions – and all the other elite teams out there,” Harden said. “I mean, you can tell the difference in these last two games.

“We’re just not good enough – chemistry, talent-wise, just everything. And it was clear these last two games.”

Moments after Harden left the podium, Rockets teammate John Wall stepped up and the five-time All-Star did not hold back as he addressed the situation in Houston.

“When you have certain guys in the mix who don’t want to buy in, all as one, it’s going to be hard to do anything special, to do anything good as a basketball team,” said Wall, who was acquired by the Rockets after Russell Westbrook was traded to the Washington Wizards.

Wall added: “We can’t dwell down on it because it’s only been nine games. Come on man, you want to jump off a cliff after nine games. It’s a lot of basketball still to be played.”

Asked about his partnership with Harden on the court, Wall said: “I think it’s been a little rocky. 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.”

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How long are CJ McCollum, Jusuf Nurkic out? Injury timeline, return date, latest updates on Trail Blazers stars

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How long are CJ McCollum, Jusuf Nurkic out? Injury timeline, return date, latest updates on Trail Blazers stars

The Trail Blazers will be without two of their most important players for an extended period.

Portland’s depth took another hit after guard CJ McCollum and center Jusuf Nurkic both suffered injuries during January games. The Trail Blazers, already dealing with the loss of Zach Collins after he underwent ankle surgery in late December, must now lean even more on Damian Lillard and figure out a way to avoid a major drop in the Western Conference standings.

What’s next for the Portland stars? Here’s everything we know about McCollum and Nurkic and the latest news on when they may return to the court.

MORE: When is the NBA trade deadline in 2021?

What is CJ McCollum’s injury?

McCollum left a Jan. 16 game against the Hawks with what the Trail Blazers initially called a left foot sprain. During the first quarter of that contest, Atlanta center Clint Capela jumped to block McCollum’s shot attempt at the rim and landed directly on his left foot.

Additional testing revealed McCollum had suffered a small hairline fracture in his left foot and a mid-foot sprain.

“Bad timing, it’s terrible timing,” McCollum said of the injury. “It’s nothing I can really do about it. I work hard to take care of myself. I put a lot of time in. I put a lot of effort into my body. This is one of the situations where there’s not much I could have done. Maybe if I would’ve done a left-handed layup he wouldn’t have fell on top of me, but it is what it is.

“I think I’m at the point in my life where, control what you can control. I’m not gonna feel sorry for myself. I live a good life. I’m still gonna live a good life. This is something that I can overcome with some time and some rest.”

What is Jusuf Nurkic’s injury?

Nurkic left a Jan. 14 game against the Pacers with a right wrist fracture. During the third quarter of that contest, Nurkic swiped at a driving Malcolm Brogdon, then immediately grabbed his wrist. He walked back to the locker room at the next timeout break and did not return.

“We’re always gonna be here for [Nurkic]. We’re always gonna show our support for him,” Lillard said. “But we gotta give him his space and let him take that in. It’s a tough thing. It comes with what we do, and it can happen at any time. I think that’s the best thing to do and how we should handle it.”

How long will CJ McCollum be out?

Portland announced on Jan. 19 that McCollum will be re-evaluated in four weeks. If he stays on that timeline, McCollum will miss at least 16 games, but the 29-year-old remains optimistic about his future.

“I’m battle-tested, man. I’m good,” McCollum said. “I’ve been through a lot in my life. I’m in a good stage of life. Mentally, I’m at peace.”

How long will Jusuf Nurkic be out?

Portland announced on Jan. 19 that Nurkic underwent wrist surgery and will be re-evaluated in six weeks. If he stays on that timeline, Nurkic will miss at least 23 games. Lillard expects backup big man Harry Giles to play a much larger role with Nurkic sidelined.

“There’s gonna be a huge opportunity for [Giles], and I think he’s prepared for it,” Lillard said. “Mentally, I think he’s a super confident young player. Every morning when I come into the facility, he’s on one of the baskets working on his game, sweating. … He’s been in the gym. He’s been preparing himself for whenever that opportunity came.

“I think now it’s here, and I think he’ll be ready for it. We’re gonna need him to be.”

CJ McCollum and Jusuf Nurkic stats for 2020-21 season

McCollum  Per Game  Nurkic
26.7 Points 9.8
3.9 Rebounds 7.7
5.0 Assists 2.8
1.3 Steals 0.9
0.3 Blocks 0.9
1.0 Turnovers 1.9
33.8 Minutes 23.3
47.3 Field goal % 48.5
44.1 3-point % 25.0
84.4 Free throw % 55.6

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FS1’s Colin Cowherd has nuclear take on Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes, AFC championship game

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FS1's Colin Cowherd has nuclear take on Chiefs' Patrick Mahomes, AFC championship game

Hey, any interest in hearing an NFL take specifically designed to provoke an emotional response? Well, here’s Colin Cowherd!

The FS1 bloviator took to his microphone on Tuesday’s edition of “The Herd” and decided it was time to drop a nuclear sports opinion on his audience. Patrick Mahomes’ status for Sunday’s AFC championship game is up in the air with the Chiefs quarterback still in the NFL’s concussion protocol, so Cowherd suggested the league should simply wait until he is healthy before the contest between Buffalo and Kansas City is played.

MORE: Mahomes’ mom was not pleased with hit that injured QB

“We want Mahomes against [Bills QB] Josh Allen. That’s reasonable,” Cowherd said. “I’m sitting here this morning thinking, if I’m the NFL, Patrick Mahomes is going through protocol. I find the day Patrick Mahomes can play — that’s when we play.”

If that’s how Cowherd truly feels, then he should have taken it a step further and called out the NFL for not stopping the divisional game in which Mahomes was injured and waiting until he was ready to return. Is it really fair to say the Chiefs defeated the Browns when Chad Henne was the guy scrambling on the final drive? To the time machine!

But Cowherd doesn’t actually care about that. He knows how ridiculous his words sound. He isn’t concerned with offering a meaningful idea, just one that causes people to freak out. (And he did his job. Just check out the replies to this tweet.)

As for Mahomes, the 25-year-old cleared “some big steps” in the concussion protocol, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, though it’s still unclear whether he will be available against the Bills. Should Mahomes be ruled out, maybe the Chiefs can ask Cowherd to write up a special petition detailing why the NFL should take the unprecedented step of putting a conference championship game on hold as a star player continues to recover. Let’s push it back a month just to be safe.

That’s reasonable, right?

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Changes to March Madness schedule could create greatest day (or days) in NCAA Tournament history

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Changes to March Madness schedule could create greatest day (or days) in NCAA Tournament history

The opening Thursday of March Madness 2021 will not be the same. It always has been a holiday for college basketball fans — some of whom planned vacation days, called in sick or skipped school — to sit at home and binge on a day filled with 16 NCAA Tournament first-round games.

The challenges of dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic convinced the NCAA to push back the start of the tournament, what is known as the First Four, to Thursday, March 18.

Wait until you hear, though, what the tradeoff for that change to tradition will be: quite possibly the greatest two days of college basketball action in our lifetimes.

MORE: Why NCAA selection committee better not screw ’21 tournament up

Games in the Sweet 16, which will be contested at Bankers Life Fieldhouse and Hinkle Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, will be played in sequence on March 27 and March 28. There will be no overlap involving these games. There will be four games each day, played one after the other, so fans will not have to choose which matchup has greater appeal. You can watch each of them, one after the other: four on Saturday, four on Sunday.

You’re no longer going to need a second screen or a seat in a sports bar to see all the action — just a really comfortable chair and a stocked fridge.

There will be, for this year, no more choosing between such simultaneous classics as LSU-Texas and UCLA-Gonzaga, which were played in the same window on a Thursday night in 2006, or Virginia Tech-Duke and Kentucky-Houston, which shared the same late Friday timeslot in the most recent NCAA Tournament we had, in 2019.

A college basketball season like no other will end with an NCAA Tournament like no other.

In the case of March Madness, that could be a good thing.

Revised March Madness schedule for 2021

First Four: Thursday, March 18, Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall (Bloomington, Ind.) and Mackey Arena (West Lafayette, Ind.).

First round: Friday, March 19 and Saturday, March 20, Assembly Hall, Mackey Arena; Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indiana Farmers Coliseum, Hinkle Fieldhouse and Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

Second Round: Sunday, March 20 and Monday, March 21, Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indiana Farmers Coliseum, Hinkle Fieldhouse and Lucas Oil Stadium.

Regional semifinals: Saturday, March 27 and Sunday, March 28, Bankers Life Fieldhouse and Hinkle Fieldhouse.

Regional finals: Monday, March 29 and Tuesday, March 30, Lucas Oil Stadium.

Final Four: Saturday, April 3, Lucas Oil Stadium.

NCAA championship: Monday, April 5, Lucas Oil Stadium.

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