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Kiszla: The best Broncos can hope to get from this lost NFL season is Clemson quarterback Trevor Law

Can somebody please find coach Vic Fangio a mask he likes, maybe something with orange and blue spangles, so Uncle Vic won’t get docked another $100,000 in fines?

As long as you’re up, would you mind also grabbing me a blindfold? These beat-up Broncos are done at 0-2. I’ve seen enough.

But like momma always said, it will all work out for the best, so long as Denver gets Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence in the 2021 NFL draft.

John Elway has been looking for John Elway, ever since he took over as architect of this Denver roster nearly a decade ago. Well, at long last, here is Elway’s chance.

“When you look at Trevor Lawrence, he is a generational talent. He is John Elway,” former NFL general manager Mike Tannebaum, who ran the Jets from 2006-2012, told ESPN in the spring.

No offense to Drew Lock, who has quickly proven to be a competent if injury-prone pro quarterback. But Lock is no Lawrence, widely considered to be the best QB prospect since Andrew Luck. With a 31-1 record as Clemson’s starter, Lawrence could well win another national championship with the Tigers (if the pandemic allows) and become the prohibitive favorite to be selected No. 1 overall in the draft.

After two games, is it too early for Denver to tank? Yes, if you listen to the Broncos.

“We’re not hitting the panic button,” cornerback Bryce Callahan said Wednesday.

But it’s certainly not too early to start dreaming and scheming for next year.

The Broncos are currently favored to win only three of their remaining 14 games, according to the simulations spewed out by the computer at FiveThirtyEight.

While there are probably a whole bunch of 3-and-outs between now and a last-place finish in the AFC West for the Broncos, I would take a 4-12 record right now. Then I’d trade the No. 4 overall pick and linebacker Von Miller for the privilege of moving atop the draft board, where the selection of Lawrence could finally start the Broncos back on the road to championship contention.

This franchise is in a fog, with no clear vision on how to get back to elite status. Hey, the same could probably be said of Uncle Vic.

In fact, Fangio said the reason he got hit with a six-figure fine for failure to consistently wear a mask over his nose and mouth on the sideline during the loss at Pittsburgh was because his glasses kept fogging up.

I don’t particularly like wearing a mask either, Uncle Vic. Who does? But I never take mine off in the press box during Broncos games (at least until the hot dogs are served at halftime).

“I’m wearing (a mask) because the NFL says we have to wear it,” Fangio said, “and I’m a loyal employee of the NFL.”

During three seasons playing for the top college football program in America, Jerry Jeudy lost four times. That’s right. He lost four games total with the Crimson Tide. As a rookie with the Broncos, Jeudy could easily lose five before Halloween

“I am not liking losing, coming from Alabama,” Jeudy said.

Nobody expected the Broncos to be legit contenders in 2020. But how could anybody have possibly anticipated this season to take such a bad turn so quickly?

It’s not so much that they’ve dropped two winnable games in frustrating ways that bad NFL teams seem to invent. The real sense of dread results from Denver’s most dangerous offensive player (Courtland Sutton) and most talented defender (Miller) being lost to injuries that will require extensive rehabilitation.

The next three months figure to be more about honoring the grind than chasing glory for the Broncos.

For starters, Fangio vows to pay more attention to all those death-by-inches details, like not letting his mask slip on the sideline.

“I’m going to do my best to do better,” said Fangio, with all the enthusiasm of a kid who promises to eat his peas and carrots.

There’s no masking all the issues on both sides of the football for the Broncos, though.

Of course, these players won’t quit. But what’s the point of another 7-9 or 6-10 season for Denver?

Although by the time he returns from injury the team could be headed into the bye week with a 1-6 record, Lock has the capability to be a solid quarterback in this league. But his ceiling is closer to Jake Plummer than Patrick Mahomes.

And since when was good enough considered acceptable in Broncos Country? This team’s lone goal, as Elway constantly reminds us, is to win rings. Something has got to change for this franchise in a dramatic way.

Tank for Trevor?

That’s not what I’m suggesting, because there’s no need to tank.

This Broncos team is bad enough to lose 12 or 13 games without even trying.
Lakers present case to NBA regarding LeBron James' lack of free throws

Lakers present case to NBA regarding LeBron James' lack of free throws

24/09/2020, USA, Basketball, NBA (Basketball), Article # 30054315

The Lakers are hoping to fix issues seen in Games 2 and 3 before taking on the Denver Nuggets in Game 4 of the Western Conference finals.
Nuggets coach Michael Malone explains the shared trait between Jamal Murray, LeBron James and Chris

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – When Michael Malone shared with reporters a small slice of his relationship with Jamal Murray late Tuesday night after the Nuggets’ Game 3 win over the Lakers, he was actually tying a thread to his decades around the NBA.

After last year’s heartbreaking playoff loss in Game 7 against Portland, the Nuggets’ coach told Murray he needed him to be more consistent. Every relationship a coach has is different, and not all players want to hear the negative.

What makes Murray different, Malone said, is that he does.

“It’s funny, when I go back to my five years as an assistant coach in Cleveland, that was part of my relationship with LeBron (James),” Malone recalled. “I was unafraid to coach him, to hold him accountable if he wasn’t doing his job. (That’s) the reason, I think, Chris Paul and I hit it off (in New Orleans). Then as a head coach, I think of DeMarcus Cousins. ‘How did Coach Malone get through to DeMarcus?’ Now Jamal Murray. I think great players inherently want to be coached, held accountable. They want somebody to help them become the best players they can be, maximize all their talents and potential.”

Everyone from Nuggets president of basketball operations Tim Connelly to Malone has ridden Murray hard. It’s because of the rare talent and mental makeup they see in him. It was only last summer that some questioned the Nuggets giving Murray a five-year, $170 million max contract. At that point, Murray had been inconsistent, at best, in his 14-game playoff debut. But he was still only 22 at the time.

“When you look at it, Jamal Murray, how he’s played in these 17 Playoff games, for a guy that has never been an All-Star, understandably so, is really remarkable,” Malone said. “For him to take advantage of this stage, kind of what Nikola (Jokic) did last year in his first experience in the postseason. I don’t think (finding a player who wants to be coached hard) is too rare, but I think it speaks to Jamal’s desire to be not a good player, not an All-Star, but a superstar.”

Murray’s two clutch 3-pointers late in Game 3 helped the Nuggets avoid what would’ve likely been an insurmountable 3-0 deficit in the Western Conference Finals. His 28-point, 12-assist, eight-rebound line shows how much more of a complete basketball player he has become.

As the highest draft pick (No. 7) on a team stacked with second-rounders, Nuggets players take pride in their circuitous paths to the Conference Finals. Malone knows that the team’s story, coming back from two 3-1 playoff deficits, is inspirational for anyone who wants to listen.

“Every NBA roster has talent,” Malone said. “What separates the teams that are still here from maybe some of the others is not talent, it’s the intangibles. I think we’ve proven time and time again that we are a special group.”

Malone relayed that his mother has been going to a doctor for an undisclosed reason.

“It gives her a kind of new life battling what she’s going through,” Malone said. “I think my mother’s story, there’s probably a lot of people out there who look at us and say, We’re the SAT question: Which team doesn’t belong? It is the Denver Nuggets. The Lakers, Boston. That is basketball royalty. It’s the Miami Heat. They have championships. What does Denver have? We have a group that fights, represents a lot of people from all across this country.”

Even rookie Michael Porter Jr., whose playoff debut has led to a berth in the Conference Finals, senses something special.

“I’ve gotten some texts from people I haven’t gotten texts from for a long time, just how we are an encouragement to them and we are inspiring them to keep fighting,” Porter said. “It’s crazy how sports can do that to people all around the world. It’s definitely something special that we’re a part of, and we’re going to try to keep it going.”
Rumors fly, but not even NBA is sure when next season will begin in 2021

Rumors fly, but not even NBA is sure when next season will begin in 2021

24/09/2020, USA, Basketball, NBA (Basketball), Article # 30054279

Kawhi Leonard said he'd see reporters in March, Adam Silver said the new season will likely start no earlier than January. Nobody knows, and here's why.
Daily News- September 23, 2020

Daily News- September 23, 2020

24/09/2020, USA, Basketball, NBA (Basketball), Article # 30053818
Get the latest news on the Wine & Gold by checking out what the local and national media are writing about.
We have a series: Five takeaways from Lakers' Game 3 loss

We have a series: Five takeaways from Lakers' Game 3 loss

24/09/2020, USA, Basketball, NBA (Basketball), Article # 30053761

A look at the Lakers' 114-106 loss to the Denver Nuggets in Game 3 of the Western Conference final.
Keeler: Jerami Grant won’t score 26 again, Lakers Nation? The way No. 9’s guarding LeBron James

They’re beautiful, aren’t they? Most NBA trolls revel in kicking dudes when they’re down. Not Lakers Twitter, though. Heck, no.

Those buggers kick people while they’re up.

Jerami Grant ain’t scoring 26 again

If u think Jerami Grant is scoring 26 again you crazy

If you think JERAMI GRANT gone keep scoring 26 points to help them y’all delusional

Jerami Grant should never have 26 points against the Lakers. With all due respect

Oh, yeah. Sure. Totally. All due respect.

See, here’s the part that should freak the purple snot out of Lakers Nation as we roll on to Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals:

Grant doesn’t have to score 26 to make this a series. Even though he can. And has.

LeBron James is a 47.1% shooter from the floor this postseason, 0 for 3 from beyond the arc when with No. 9 in his face. Point of reference: When anybody else on the Nuggets roster gets near LeBron, the King makes it rain at a clip of 59.5%.

Anthony Davis is a 42.9% shooter, 0 for 2 from beyond the arc, with Grant lodged in his brow. Against the rest of the Nuggets, he’s 29 for 54, or 53.7%.

Paul George was 6 for 15 (40%). Kawhi Leonard was 27 for 59 (45.8%). Of the six opponents in the postseason that’s tracker says Grant guarded for at least nine minutes, only one of them — Utah’s Jordan Clarkson — converted more than 51% of his field-goal attempts.

“I like Jerami Grant guarding Anthony Davis,” Denver coach Michael Malone said, matter-of-factly, after his Nuggets notched their first win of the series Tuesday night, setting up a chance to even the series at 2-2 Thursday in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. “I like Jerami Grant guarding LeBron James.”

He doesn’t scare the rims like Montrezl Harrell. He doesn’t have Dwight (boo!) Howard’s (hiss!) Asgardian shoulders. Or his Dennis Rodman pretense. But you’re not dancing this far, for this long, without Grant’s length.

The Nuggets forward is 6-foot-8 with a 7-3 wingspan. Grant’s a unicorn, the kind of do-everything defensive umbrella that Malone can employ to try and smother smaller pests such as Clarkson and Donovan Mitchell, or to spear bigger fish like Bron and AD.

And if he happens to go all Scottie Pippen — Grant’s 26-point night in Game 3, saw him drain two treys and head to the free throw line 12 times — along the way, it’s a bonus. Over the Nuggets’ nine postseason victories, the 26-year-old forward’s poured in at least 10 points during six of them.

“Jerami, he’s been great for us, and we ask a lot from him,” teammate Monte Morris said. “He starts guarding LeBron. We know how (tough) LeBron is. He’s exerting so much energy on defense, you know, it was good to see him get going on offense. It gave us a great boost and it was much-needed.”

It was needed on Davis, too. AD managed 27 points on 17 shots and went to the line 10 times. But it was a quiet 27, as the former New Orleans star managed to collect just two boards.  The Lakers’ three-headed Joker Harassment Committee of Davis, JaVale McGee and (boo!) Howard (hiss!) managed only four rebounds, combined, compared to 18 from Nuggets center Nikola Jokic (10) and power forward Paul Millsap (eight).

“I think we have a team where we’ve got a lot of depth. We’ve got a lot of players that can do different things,” said Grant, who’s averaged 10.8 points this postseason, 14 per game against the Lake Show. “And I think we’ve been showing it throughout the playoffs, different guys step up in different games and support the team. And I think that’s what we did (Tuesday).”

If Jokic (22 points in Game 3) is due $28.5 million next season and Jamal Murray (28 points) is scheduled to rake in $27.3 million, where do you slot Grant’s value on the open market right about now? No. 9’s got a player option that kicks in whenever this magic carpet ride hits the skids.

After what he’s put on tape over the last month, somebody’s going to be handing Grant a pretty healthy chunk of change before too long. No matter what Lakers Nation thinks.

I guarantee you!! Jerami Grant is not going to have 26 points ever again in his life!!

Jerami grant scores 26 points again I can’t imagine it!!!

Jerami Grant can’t hit you for 26!

We let Jerami Grant drop 26 on us?

With all due respect, brother. All due respect.
Lakers were so close but Jerami Grant helped Nuggets hold on

Lakers were so close but Jerami Grant helped Nuggets hold on

24/09/2020, USA, Basketball, NBA (Basketball), Article # 30053681

The Lakers almost wiped out a big second-half deficit before the Denver Nuggets pulled out a win in Game 3, thanks to unheralded forward Jerami Grant.
Nuggets’ Jamal Murray ascending to stardom in these playoffs: “He’s built for the big shots”

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Maybe you didn’t believe it when Jamal Murray reeled off 142 points across three spellbinding games in the first round against Utah.

Or perhaps you weren’t swayed by his 40-piece in Game 7 against the Los Angeles Clippers in the second round that sealed Denver’s second 3-1 comeback in as many rounds.

But if you somehow still didn’t believe that Murray’s growth was real, that his ascension to stardom hadn’t arrived, let Tuesday night’s Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals sink in.

Denver’s emotional heartbeat saved the Nuggets’ season Tuesday night. As Lakers guard Rajon Rondo swiped at each tempting dribble amid the Nuggets’ near fourth-quarter meltdown, Murray was lurking, slowly waiting for his chance to crush them. He wanted to right what he felt was Sunday night’s wrong.

“We feel like we should be up 2-1 right now, to be honest,” said Murray, after dropping 28 points, dishing 12 assists and hauling in eight rebounds in Denver’s 114-106 Game 3 win.

Having already seen a 20-point lead slip to just three in about five minutes, the Nuggets badly needed someone to stop the bleeding. Michael Malone’s timeouts seemed futile. On six straight possessions the Nuggets succumbed to Los Angeles’ pressure and turned the ball over. Denver was perplexed by the Lakers’ switch to a zone.

Few things in basketball feel heavier than a run punctuated by a LeBron James jam. In the fourth quarter, five of James’ six baskets came on layups or dunks. The Nuggets looked helpless as their historic season was slipping away.

But up 103-99 with 2:25 left, Murray probed, spun and pivoted back behind the 3-point line to launch one of his trademark Blue Arrows. When Murray connected, there was almost an exhale from Denver’s bench. The Nuggets had manufactured only seven points in the prior seven-and-half minutes total.

On the next possession down, Murray got hung up in the air twice only to get bailed out by Nuggets veteran Paul Millsap. Murray’s find amid a thicket of arms gave Millsap an easy dunk and the Nuggets a little more breathing room.

And after he’d done the hard work, who could blame Murray for wanting to bask in it a little bit? After he’d launched his final 3-pointer from somewhere near the team hotel, Murray’s shoulders started to sway as he back-pedaled up the court. Tuesday’s was a game that Murray never intended to drop.

“He is built for the big shots,” said partner-in-crime Nikola Jokic. “I really, truly believe that he’s a superstar.”

Murray had his moments during last year’s two series against San Antonio and Portland, but there were several games where he was inefficient, or less than the all-encompassing impact player he’s become.

Now he’s soaring for rebounds against Los Angeles’ trees, barking out defensive assignments or setting up his teammates for open looks.

“He came to me last year, kind of after the Playoffs, he says, ‘Coach, you know what drives me crazy and I hate? You say I’m inconsistent,’” Malone recalled. “’What bothers me is that you’re right. I know I have to be more consistent.’”

In his last 10 games, dating back to the beginning of the Clippers’ series, Murray’s averaging 23.2 points on 46% shooting, including 43% on 3-pointers. He’s also serving 6.6 assists per game, more than even Jokic’s 6.2. As the command of his game has soared, so has his unselfishness.

“I think what I’ve seen from Jamal this year, aside from the growth defensively, which has been tremendous, I’m so proud of him in that regard, but now I know every night what I’m getting from Jamal,” Malone said. “Last year it was, we knew what we were getting from Nikola. What kind of game would Jamal have? That’s no longer the case. We have two superstars in Nikola and Jamal and a lot of other really good, young, talented players behind them.”

That confidence, which erupted against the Jazz, maintained vs. the Clippers, and is now bubbling again against the Lakers, is a scary sight for L.A. With a new lease on this series, there’s no telling the heights Murray’s game will go.