TSNs Jack Armstrong offers his thoughts on Eric Bledsoe of the Suns, Isaiah Thomas of the Kings, the potential return of Kobe Bryant, Kyle Korver of the Hawks, Evan Turner of the Sixers and the Raptors current situation. 1. Eric Bledsoe (Suns): Love how hes playing. This guy competes; plain and simple. Love his defensive intensity and ability to disrupt your flow, averaging close to two steals per game. His efficiency (50 per cent) has been impressive considering hes a below average distance shooter but he can get in the lane and break you down off the bounce. Finishes at the rim: fearless. Hes putting up major numbers (20.4 ppg and 4.6 rpg / close to seven assists per game) and was a wonderful pickup. The opportunity is there for him and hes taking advantage. 2. Isaiah Thomas (Kings): This little guy gets everything out of his game and then some. No back down and his quickness and change of speeds are tough to guard. Really improved. Averaging close to 18 ppg and close to five assists per game. Shoots it well from 3-point range at 43 per cent and is a major pest defensively. Always love to root for the underdogs and wasnt a high pick like teammate Jimmer Fredette yet hes got all of his minutes. Its not about your draft slot, its always decided between the lines. Respect him. 3. Kobe Bryant (Lakers): Lots of chatter out of LA that hes ahead of schedule with his rehab from a torn achilles. Im a huge fan and hes one of the greats of this era. Wont find a nastier guy when the game is on the line. Want him on my side. Fingers crossed that he doesnt rush it back. The mans got incredible will and drive but I hope that he takes it easy and makes sure hes being very cautious before he steps out there on the court. His pride will get the best of him once hes in the games so make sure you can demand lots of yourself and perform at a relatively high level before you subject yourself to the scrutiny. Look forward to seeing him (Raptors are in LA on Dec 8) yet for the sake of his health and the game, I want to see him when hes truly ready. 4. Kyle Korver (Hawks): I watch this guy and hes the model of efficiency and has outstanding feel for what exactly his role is. The man shoots it (54 per cent and 51 per cent from long distance) and gets you 13 ppg which is very respectable. Really good at moving without the ball and cuts hard and is masterful at his screen usage. Excellent catch and shoot game and can create with a bounce or two. Spaces the floor out and opens major driving lanes for teammates like Jeff Teague which makes everyone better. Each place he has played (Philadelphia, Utah and Chicago), his coaches and teammates respect his professionalism and value of team play. Its no surprise that he stays at a good level, he knows exactly whats expected of him and he delivers on it. 5. Evan Turner (Sixers): Having a terrific start to the season (22 ppg and 6.3 rpg/47 per cent shooting) after being considered a disappointment early in his career. Very strong guy whos one of the best rebounding guards in the league. Explosive at the point of attack and gets to the rim and finishes with authority. Seems to be more relaxed and having fun playing for new coach Brett Brown. Some guys just take longer and more importantly style of play many times sets the tone for a career path. The Sixers go up and down and play fast and this better suits his game. In open space and quick rapid fire action/reaction situations, he thrives. 6 Toronto Raptors: I know, I know, I must have had a little something extra in my cup of tea this morning but hey what the heck! The Raps are playing for top spot in the Atlantic Division Wednesday at Philly. Whod have thunk it? Lets get the W and no Looking back. Atlantic Division Champs - Playoffs - Home Court: Dare to dream a little bit. Wouldnt that be fun? I know the folks in Tank Nation think Im nuts and Im yanking some chains here but lets enjoy the ride and see how it all shakes out. Remember the wacky 2006-07 season? None of us saw it coming with the Raps winning the division. I doubt it will happen but lets have some fun for a change and value winning. Minds off the ping-pong balls and lets be a firtst-place team for a few days. Onward and upward. I know, Im losing it! Christian Hackenberg Jersey
.J. -- The New York Jets have promoted Tony Sparano Jr. Rashard Robinson Jersey
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. Carey Price made 27 saves for Montreal (30-21-6) for his fourth shutout of the year and second in four games. David Desharnais added an empty netter for the Canadiens. Reto Berra stopped 25 shots for Calgary (21-28-7). Chandler Catanzaro Jersey
. The 22-year-old Kreider was injured Friday night in New Yorks win at Columbus, but played in the next two games -- including Monday nights win over Phoenix. But the left winger, who has 17 goals and 37 points this season, was limited to about 10 minutes of ice time in each of the previous games. Robby Anderson Jersey
. -- Manchester United thrilled a record crowd with a brilliant opening goal -- and even Cristiano Ronaldos unexpected entrance proved futile for Real Madrid.SCOREBOARDSunday, Jan. 11Dallas at Green Bay, 1:05 p.m. EST (FOX). The Cowboys are playing at Green Bay in the playoffs for the first time since losing in the Ice Bowl in 1967. Tony Romo and the Cowboys are coming off a 24-20 win over Detroit in the wild-card round, their first playoff game in five years. Green Bays Aaron Rodgers hopes to be healed from a left calf injury suffered in the regular-season finale. The Packers, who won a fourth straight NFC North title, had a bye as the No. 2 playoff seed in the NFC.___Indianapolis at Denver, 4:40 p.m. EST (CBS). The Broncos Peyton Manning faces his former team and his successor after Andrew Luck and the Colts beat Cincinnati 26-10 in the wild-card round. Its the third time Manning and Luck will meet, with the teams splitting the first two meetings. The Broncos had an opening-round bye as the AFCs No. 2 seed.___STARSPassing—Tom Brady, Patriots, was 33 for 50 for 367 yards with three touchdown passes and an interception in New Englands 35-31 win over Baltimore.—Russell Wilson, Seahawks, was 15 for 22 for 268 for three touchdown passes in Seattles 31-17 win over Carolina.—Joe Flacco, Ravens, was 28 for 45 for 292 yards and four touchdown passes and two interceptions in Baltimores 35-31 loss to New England.___Rushing—Justin Forsett, Ravens, had 24 carries for 129 yards in Baltimores 35-31 loss to New England.—Jonathan Stewart, Panthers, had 13 carries for 70 yards in Carolinas 31-17 loss to Seattle.___Receiving—Jermaine Kearse, Seahawks, had three receptions for 129 yards, including a 63-yard touchdown in Seattles 31-17 win over Carolina.—Rob Gronkowski, Patriots, had seven receptions for 108 yards and a touchdown in New Englands 35-31 win over Baltimore.—Danny Amendola, Patriots, had five receptions for 81 yards and two touchdowns in New Englands 35-31 win over Baltimore.—Kelvin Benjamin, Panthers, had seven catches for 75 yards and two touchdowns in Carolinas 31-17 loss to Seattle.—Julian Edelman, Patriots, had eight catches for 74 yards in New Englands 35-31 win over Baltimore.___Defence—Kam Chancellor, Seahawks, returned an interception 90 yards in Seattles 31-17 win over Carolina.—Earl Thomas, Seahawks, had 11 combined tackles and a forced fumble in Carolinas 31-17 loss to Seattle.—Duron Harmon and Devin McCourty, Patriots, each had an interception in New Englands 35-31 win over Baltimore.—Daryl Smith, Ravens, had an interception in Baltimores 35-31 loss to New England.—Jamie Collins, Patriots, had a combined 11 tackles in New Englands 35-31 win over Baltimore.—C.J. Mosley, Ravens, had a combined 10 tackles and a forced fumble in Baltimores 35-31 loss to New England.dddddddddddd___MILESTONESThe New England Patriots have advanced to the AFC title game for the fourth consecutive season with a 35-31 win over the Baltimore Ravens. The Patriots Bill Belichick has 20 playoff wins, tied with Hall of Famer Tom Landry for most of any head coach in NFL history. The Patriots Tom Brady had three touchdown passes and passed Joe Montana for the most in NFL post-season history. Brady has 46 TDs and Montana had 45. Brady also set franchise post-season records with 33 completions and 367 yards passing. ... The Seahawks never trailed in their 31-17 win over Carolina and became the first defending Super Bowl champion to win a playoff game the following season since New England in January 2006.___TRICK PLAYWith the ball at the New England 49 late in the third quarter, Tom Brady threw behind the line of scrimmage to Julian Edelman on the left side. Edelman, a former Kent State quarterback, then lofted a deep pass to a wide-open Danny Amendola after a defender came up toward Edelman. It was the first post-season pass by a wide receiver since Pittsburghs Antwaan Randle-El threw one in the 2006 Super Bowl.___INJURIESNew England Patriots centre Bryan Stork left the playoff game against the Baltimore Ravens in the first half with a knee injury. Stork left after a play in which quarterback Tom Brady was sacked for a 4-yard loss. The team announced at halftime that he would not return. ... Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Paul Richardson suffered a knee injury in the third quarter of Saturday nights NFC playoff game against the Carolina Panthers. Richardson clutched his left knee area after a leaping attempt to haul in a pass from Russell Wilson while covered by Panthers cornerback Bene Benwikere. Benwikere was also shaken up on the play, but Richardson was noticeably in pain after the play. He was attended to on the trainers table before taking a seat on the bench with a towel over his head while teammates appeared to console him.___SPEAKINGWeve had it in for 10 weeks, and the coaches finally got to call it. I had to loosen up the arm a little bit. — Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman on his 51-yard touchdown pass to Danny Amendola in the third quarter of their 35-31 win over Baltimore.___It felt awesome. It felt like preparation. It felt like everything I worked all week for. That was my first return of my career and it felt good. — Seattles Kam Chancellor after returning an interception 90 yards for a touchdown in Seattles 31-17 win over Carolina.___AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org
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