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Nuggets crash LA party, will face Lakers in West finals

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Nuggets crash LA party, will face Lakers in West finals

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) — Just about everyone had L.A. vs. L.A. written in for the Western Conference finals.

Then along came the resilient Denver Nuggets, who crashed the party.

Behind Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic, the Nuggets advanced to the conference finals for the first time since 2009. They will face LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers starting Friday in Game 1.

But this was no ordinary road. The Nuggets fell behind 3-1 in their first-round series against Utah before bouncing back with three straight victories. Then they went down 3-1 to the Los Angeles Clippers in the second round before winning in Game 7 again.

They made history, too, becoming the first NBA team to rally from a 3-1 series deficit twice in the same postseason.

As expected, Denver is an underdog against the Lakers. Murray & Co. are used to it.

”Everybody counts us out. It’s fun to silence everybody,” Murray said. ”We love it.”

The last time the Nuggets were in the conference finals they faced the Lakers as well, losing in six games. That squad was coached by George Karl and boasted Chauncey Billups and Carmelo Anthony. The Lakers were led by the late Kobe Bryant and would go on to win the NBA title over Orlando.

This time, Denver features a play-making point guard in Murray and a center who thinks of himself as a point guard in Jokic.

Combined, they’ve helped the Nuggets go 6-0 in elimination games this postseason. Pressure doesn’t bother them.

”It’s just fun, the journey,” Jokic said. ”This is an interesting team. We don’t have many superstars.”

Actually, they have two burgeoning stars in Murray and Jokic. In the Game 7 win over the Clippers, Murray scored 40 points while Jokic finished with 16 points, 13 assists and 22 rebounds.

The Nuggets are playing with an abundance of confidence, no matter the deficit. They were down by double digits in Games 5, 6 and 7 but came back to win each time.

”We are not accepting that someone is better than us,” said Jokic, whose squad beat San Antonio last season in Game 7 before losing to Portland in seven games. ”They really need to beat us and need to play much better than us. … When we start playing for each other and you see the ball is flowing and the defense and everybody has everyone’s back, it’s really fun.”

Denver certainly quieted the noise around the Clippers, who hoped the additions of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George would lead them to their first-ever conference finals – and beyond. But LA’s stars fell flat.

”It hurts. It hurts. But we move on,” George said. ”Year 1 together, first run together, of course we wanted to win this. But we’ve been very optimistic about us being together and building something going down the road.”

After a quick celebration Tuesday – of the win and coach Michael Malone’s 49th birthday – the Nuggets will be ready to get back to business.

”We know what we got,” Murray said. ”We’re a top-four team in the league and we’re trying to push to be No. 1. … We’ve got a squad that we believe in each other and know we can go out there and win it.”

More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

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Christine founded Sports Grind Entertainment with an aim to bring relevant and unaltered Sports news to the general public with a specific view point for each story catered by the team. She is a proficient journalist who holds a reputable portfolio with proficiency in content analysis and research.

Christine founded Sports Grind Entertainment with an aim to bring relevant and unaltered Sports news to the general public with a specific view point for each story catered by the team. She is a proficient journalist who holds a reputable portfolio with proficiency in content analysis and research.

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Trade chatter connecting Rangers to Jack Eichel: report

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Trade chatter connecting Rangers to Jack Eichel: report

With the Rangers’ rebuild ahead of schedule, they were reportedly among the teams recently interested in a potential trade for the Buffalo Sabres’ star center Jack Eichel, reports Bob McKenzie of TSN.

According to McKenzie, there was “unverified chatter” that Eichel recently requested a trade from Buffalo, though further investigating by McKenzie revealed that Eichel doesn’t want out of Buffalo right now — something McKenzie said he took at “face value.”

The 23-year-old Eichel had 36 goals and 42 assists in 68 games this season, and has amassed 337 points in 354 career NHL games.

Eichel is under contract through the 2025-26 season, and is set to enter the third season of an eight-year deal worth $80 million.

With New York’s signing last offseason of Artemi Panarin and draft luck leading to them drafting Kappo Kakko No. 2 overall in the 2019 NHL Draft and very likely Alexis Lafreniere at No. 1 overall in 2020, dealing for a potential finishing piece such as Eichel would make plenty of sense.

The Blueshirts also have one of the best crops of prospects in the NHL, meaning they should have no trouble putting together a package for a star they covet should one become available.

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Christine founded Sports Grind Entertainment with an aim to bring relevant and unaltered Sports news to the general public with a specific view point for each story catered by the team. She is a proficient journalist who holds a reputable portfolio with proficiency in content analysis and research.

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Victor Oladipo looking to leave Pacers this offseason

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Victor Oladipo looking to leave Pacers this offseason

Victor Oladipo was reportedly leaning toward leaving the Pacers in 2021 free agency.

He might prefer to exit sooner.

Jared Weiss of The Athletic:

Victor Oladipo looking to move on this offseason, according to sources

Oladipo has had an enjoyable and fruitful time in Indiana.

It’s also easy to see how he’d hold bigger ambitions on and off the court.

The Pacers control the situation for now. Oladipo is under contract next season at $21 million. But the specter of him leaving in 2021 unrestricted free agency applies implicit pressure. Indiana could trade him rather than risk him walking for nothing.

Of course it’s not fait accompli Oladipo would leave the Pacers in 2021 free agency. They’re looking for a new coach, and maybe that hire would help motivate Oladipo to stay. Indiana could take the upcoming season to sell him on a new direction. If going that route, the Pacers could still pivot before the trade deadline. That plan would allow Oladipo time to get healthy and boost his trade value (or suffer a setback and tank his stock).

Oladipo’s impending free agency also gives him some leverage in trade talks. He can signal an intent to re-sign with only certain teams, motivating those teams to trade for him (and dissuading other teams).

But at this stage, even if Oladipo is ready to leave, Indiana still holds most of the cards.

Report: Victor Oladipo looking to leave Pacers this offseason originally appeared on NBCSports.com

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Christine founded Sports Grind Entertainment with an aim to bring relevant and unaltered Sports news to the general public with a specific view point for each story catered by the team. She is a proficient journalist who holds a reputable portfolio with proficiency in content analysis and research.

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Justin Gaethje blasts Conor McGregor, defends Dana White

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Justin Gaethje blasts Conor McGregor, defends Dana White

Did Conor McGregor open Pandora’s Box by trying to defend his early attempts to line-up his 2020 season by outing a private message exchange with UFC president Dana White?

It appears McGregor has upset a number of people, including White, when he posted a private message exchange with the UFC head honcho. McGregor’s tweet included parts of the exchange that included him saying he wouldn’t be a fill-in fighter for the planned Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Tony Ferguson bout, which had been slated for UFC 249 earlier this year.

McGregor’s post went on to show he had requested a headlining bout with Diego Sanchez. It was a fight that White was critical of, saying that he could lose his promoter’s license if he made such a fight.

Dana White calls Conor McGregor’s post ‘one of the dirtiest things you can do’

The actions of his biggest – albeit retired – superstar set White off at the UFC 253 post-fight press conference on Saturday. White responded to a question about McGregor’s tweet, saying, “This is some man-code stuff. It’s just something you don’t do. It’s one of the dirtiest things you can do.”

McGregor doubled down on his commitment to eventually facing Diego Sanchez at some point, even after Sanchez lost to Jake Matthews at UFC 253 on Saturday.

He also seemed like he might be taking another shot at the UFC, by including a mention addressing “some promoters,” although that wasn’t specifically stated.

Justin Gaethje defends Dana White, shoots down Conor McGregor’s claims

Late Sunday, interim UFC lightweight champion Justin Gaethje and his manager Ali Abdelaziz stood behind White, making pointed comments at McGregor, asserting that he turned down potential fights.

Gaethje is currently slated to unify his interim lightweight title with champion Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 254 on Oct. 24 on Fight Island.

Gaethje had wanted to either fight McGregor or wait for a shot at the winner of Nurmagomedov vs. Ferguson at UFC 249. McGregor instead fought Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone in January. Gaethje waited.

Nurmagomedov fell out of the fight at UFC 249. McGregor did not want to be a back-up plan for that bout, so White enlisted Gaethje to battle Ferguson for the interim title. Gaethje won at UFC 249 in May and now faces Nurmagomedov for the belt.

Meanwhile, McGregor announced his retirement in June, but then tweeted in the past few days that his next bout would be a boxing match opposite Manny Pacquiao.

In defending White, Gaethje and Abdelaziz wrote off McGregor as any sort of potential contender.

TRENDING > Dana White bites back at Conor McGregor: ‘It’s one of the dirtiest things you can do.’

Trending Video > UFC 253: Israel Adesanya vs Paulo Costa Recap

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Christine founded Sports Grind Entertainment with an aim to bring relevant and unaltered Sports news to the general public with a specific view point for each story catered by the team. She is a proficient journalist who holds a reputable portfolio with proficiency in content analysis and research.

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