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Russell Westbrook ‘Not Worried One Bit’ About Rockets’ Struggles


Russell Westbrook claims to be “encouraged,” this despite Houston having dropped three in a row.

Westbrook and co-star James Harden pointed to the Rockets’ poor defensive effort in a 137-123 loss Sunday night to the visiting Dallas Mavericks.

Luka Doncic torched H-Town for 41 points, six rebounds and 10 assists.

Per The AP:

James Harden was asked what Houston did wrong defensively.

“Everything,” he said. “We allowed them to do whatever they wanted to do from the beginning of the game and when you give a team like that comfort … they gain confidence. And that’s what they did.”

The Mavericks has won five straight, scoring at least 137 in the last three. Houston has lost three straight after winning eight in a row.

“This is a big win. There’s no question about that,” [Rick] Carlisle said. “You come in here, this is a big-time place to play and you’re playing against great players. So our guys deserve credit but this is a process and it’s day by day and week by week and we’ve got to continue to go for daily improvement.”

Related Paul George ‘Knew’ Russell Westbrook-James Harden Pairing Would Work





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Basketball

Paul George ‘Knew’ Russell Westbrook-James Harden Pairing Would Work


Russell Westbrook‘s partnership with James Harden in Houston has been a success, which did not come as a surprise to Paul George.

George, who played alongside Westbrook in OKC for two seasons before ultimately requesting a trade, says “Russ is a heckuva teammate.”

PG adds that he spoke to Westbrook first about his desire to relocate to L.A. last summer.

Per ESPN:

“I knew it was going to work,” George said at the morning shootaround before the Clippers face the Rockets on Friday night. “Russ is a winner. Russ wants to win, Russ does whatever it takes to win. My time playing with him, Russ doesn’t really have an ego. He puts his ego to the side.

“He allowed me to be myself, he allowed me to be comfortable. And I had one of the best career [years] I had while playing alongside him. Russ is a heckuva teammate.”

Playing alongside Westbrook, George finished third in MVP voting last season, averaging career-highs of 28 points and 8.2 rebounds to go with a career-high-tying 4.1 assists per game.

“I made sure that was the first thing that I did was talk to Russ and get his temperature and see what he was looking [for] and see where he was at with things,” George told ESPN in October during Clippers training camp. “The relationship [with Westbrook] never stopped. The relationship never was a part of the reason why I left. Me and Russ got along great. I enjoyed [it]. I learned so much from playing alongside Russ. He made me a better player and person.”

Related Russell Westbrook: James Harden’s Greatness ‘Not Normal’





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Football

Young Carson Wentz ‘rooted hard for’ NC State’s Russell Wilson – NFL Nation


PHILADELPHIA — Sunday’s game between the Philadelphia Eagles and Seattle Seahawks (1 p.m. ET, Fox) marks the third head-to-head matchup between quarterbacks Carson Wentz and Russell Wilson.

Separated by time (Wilson, at 30, is four years Wentz’s senior) and distance (about 2,400 miles between Philadelphia and Seattle), they are rarely in the same place at the same time, yet their paths are connected in a number of interesting ways.

The point of origin is Raleigh, North Carolina, where Wentz was born. The family moved to North Dakota when Wentz was young, but his dad, Doug, brought his boys up as NC State fans. So when Wilson came onto the scene as a freshman quarterback for the Wolfpack in 2008, Wentz — an undersized high school sophomore QB at the time — not only “rooted hard for him,” but was influenced by his style of play.

“I think just watching him as a player and his ability to create is something that I really admired, and his athleticism, and is something that I tried to implement in my game a little bit,” Wentz said. “At the same time, we’re different players. He’s way quicker than I am, way faster than I am, but a lot of respect for how he can improvise and make plays.”

Eagles coach Doug Pederson was an admirer of Wilson as well. He was Philadelphia’s quarterbacks coach under Andy Reid when Wilson entered the 2012 NFL draft. It’s no secret that the Eagles had intended to select Wilson in the third round that year. But the Seahawks wrecked that plan by snagging him 13 spots ahead of the Eagles at No. 75 overall; Philly instead took eventual Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles with the No. 88 overall pick.

If the Eagles had landed their intended target, Wilson would still be running the show in Philadelphia and Wentz would be … who knows where? Instead, Foles was unable to solidify himself as a franchise quarterback, Reid was fired and eventually the head-coaching gig went to Pederson, who saw traits in Wentz similar to those that drew him to Wilson four years earlier.

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Victor Cruz and Rob Ninkovich agree that the Eagles are lacking the personnel that’s needed to stop Russell Wilson from making big plays.

“They’re both proven winners in college and really all the way down into high school. Proven winners, they’re great leaders, leaders of men. They’re tough physically when they play the position,” Pederson said. “They’re not afraid to extend plays with their legs. Both of them have big arms, powerful arms, have great vision. I would probably give Russell the nod as far as the speed and all of that, but they’re both elusive enough to extend plays.

“And you didn’t see a ton of tipped balls from Russell Wilson, batted balls down, even coming out of college. I remember he played behind one of the largest offensive linemen in the country that year, and same with Carson. Being able to find lanes and slide in the pocket and do all the things and help your team win. You would think that’s a recipe for success. It’s helped them win and it’s obviously helped us win.”

Both Wilson and Wentz also share a common faith, which has led to a relationship outside of football.

“Carson I’ve gotten to know over the years. I’ve always loved watching him play ever since he got into the NFL. Heard a lot about him in college and just heard this guy was really a great player, a super strong Christian guy. I love how he puts the Lord first,” Wilson said.

“I love how he plays the game. I love his grit that he plays with. He just seems to always find a way to always make a key play just when you’re watching him. He’s been spectacular for the Eagles’ organization. I’ve got a lot of respect for him.”

Wilson, who has won each of the first two head-to-head matchups with Wentz, is in the midst of an MVP-caliber campaign. Wentz’s season, meanwhile, hasn’t gone as hoped. Yet their names have a habit of appearing side by side in different statistical categories. Wilson and Wentz have each thrown at least one touchdown pass in 13 consecutive games, which is tied for the longest active streak in the NFL. Wilson is second in passing TDs per game (2.2) since 2017, while Wentz (2.1) is third.



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Basketball

Russell Westbrook: James Harden’s Greatness ‘Not Normal’


Russell Westbrook doesn’t want anyone to make the mistake of normalizing Rockets teammate James Harden‘s singular greatness.

Westbrook, who finished with a 28-point, 13-rebound, 10-assist triple-double Monday, says Harden is “one of the best offensive scorers of all time.”

Harden scored just 36 points in Houston’s 132-108 win, a “subpar night” for the NBA’s leading scorer (39.2 PPG) according to Portland Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts.

Per ESPN:

“I think that a lot of people like to normalize greatness when you see it over and over again, but it’s not normal because there’s nobody else that can do it,” said Rockets guard Russell Westbrook. “If it was normal, everybody would do it.

“He’s put himself in position to be one of the best offensive scorers of all time because of the way that he’s able to score the ball at a high level in a variety of ways.”

He averaged 36.1 points per game last season, the most by anyone in the NBA since Michael Jordan averaged 37.1 in 1986-87.

“I don’t care about that. I just want to win games,” said Harden, who had six rebounds and five assists in the win over the Blazers. “Tonight, just shooting my shots. Last game, I took 41 shots, but we had six guys on the injured reserve list. So it’s whatever it takes to win at this point. That’s what I go out there and do every single night.”

Related Daryl Morey: Rockets Could Have the ‘Best Offense Ever Put on the Floor’





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