o bring back Gruden
o bring back Grudenin NEUES AUS ÖSTERREICH - BERICHTE AUS ÖSTERREICH 09.10.2018 05:32
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HOUSTON — Just when the Houston Rockets‘ air of invincibility started to wane T.J. Green Jersey , MVP frontrunner James Harden did what was necessary to restore order and right the Rockets’ formidable vessel.
On the heels of uninspired efforts last weekend, including a 17-point loss at San Antonio on Sunday, the Rockets (63-15) reclaimed their rhythm on Tuesday with a 120-104 victory over the Washington Wizards at Toyota Center, the first of three home contests this week. Houston will host the Portland Trail Blazers on Thursday seeking a sweep of the four-game season series with the Blazers.
Over the five games between the Rockets’ last win in Portland and their dispatching of the Wizards, Harden averaged a modest 23.8 points per game on 37.4 percent shooting, including a paltry 15 percent on 3-pointers. He rediscovered his shooting stroke against Washington, pouring in 38 points on just 18 shot attempts while converting 5 of 8 shots from behind the arc.
“We understand we’ve got to change our mentality and get into playoff mode, and come out with some aggressiveness and kind of take control of the game in that first quarter,” Harden said.
The Blazers (48-30) are in the position Houston occupied last weekend. Starting with a victory on Valentine’s Day at Phoenix, Portland reeled off 13 consecutive wins to essentially secure a postseason berth and garner attention as a playoff dark horse. But the Trail Blazers are just 4-4 since, with the Rockets snapping that streak in Portland on March 20. The Blazers have dropped games at Memphis and Dallas, two Western Conference bottom feeders Womens Mattias Ekholm Jersey , since, with their setback against the Mavericks on Tuesday reflecting their lagging defense of late.
Portland owns a 107.2 defensive rating over its last eight games, a mark that ranks 16th in the league and represents a concerning drop for a defense that has ranked in the top 10 all season.
“That was a bad loss for us,” Portland coach Terry Stotts said. “We didn’t do the things defensively (to win), particularly in the first half. We didn’t play with the urgency defensively to have an impact. Obviously, we didn’t shoot the ball well (10 of 40 on 3-pointers), but I think that’s kind of a mindset as well. No excuses. We didn’t play well and we need to play better.”
The stop in Houston is the second on the Blazers’ four-game road swing with San Antonio and Denver, both scrapping to secure a postseason bid, up next. The Trail Blazers will close the regular season at home against Utah in a game that could mean a great deal to the Jazz. After streaking its way to third place in the conference standings, Portland can ill afford to surrender that momentum against the teams it could potentially face in the opening round of the playoffs.
“We’ve been a very, very good team for two or three months,” Stotts said. “But this game on the heels of losing at Memphis and our poor first half against Memphis at home (on April 1) Marquise Goodwin Jersey , I don’t know. We’ll watch the video, but I don’t know if it’s a mindset or not. But these last (few games), it’s not going to be easy the rest of the way. So, we’ve got to understand that.”
Trail Blazers All-Star guard Damian Lillard rolled his left ankle at Dallas and his status against the Rockets is questionable.
OAKLAND RAIDERS (6-10)
OPEN CAMP: July 26, Napa, California
LAST YEAR: Raiders plummeted from 12 wins in 2016 to six last year as QB Derek Carr and offense regressed, defense struggled, and coach Jack Del Rio was fired. Oakland's offensive output dropped by more than seven points per game, takeaways fell from 30 to 14, and Raiders got almost no production from past three draft classes in becoming one of league's biggest disappointments. That led to move to bring coach Jon Gruden back for second stint with Raiders after spending past nine seasons in broadcast booth.
IMPORTANT ADDITIONS: Gruden, WR Jordy Nelson, WR Martavis Bryant Christian Dvorak Jersey , RB Doug Martin, LB Derrick Johnson, CB Rashaan Melvin, S Marcus Gilchrist, LB Emmanuel Lamur, LB Tahir Whitehead, WR Ryan Switzer, OL Kolton Miller, DT Maurice Hurst, DE Arden Key.
IMPORTANT LOSSES: Del Rio, WR Michael Crabtree, RT Marshall Newhouse http://www.greenbaypackersteamonline.com/jimmy-graham-jersey , LB NaVorro Bowman, CB TJ Carrie, CB Sean Smith, CB David Amerson, P Marquette King.
CAMP NEEDS: Biggest priority is getting 2016 Defensive Player of Year Khalil Mack into camp after he held out entire offseason while seeking long-term contract. Mack is entering final year of rookie deal and Gruden and new DC Paul Guenther are eager to get most important defensive piece on practice field. Other main issues are learning Gruden's system and figuring out offensive tackle situation with LT Donald Penn coming back from foot injury and rookies Miller and Brandon Parker battling Breno Giacomini for time.
EXPECTATIONS: Owner Mark Davis has wanted to bring back Gruden ever since taking over team seven years ago. He's hoping move pays off in team's final two seasons in Oakland before move to Las Vegas in 2020. Gruden is being counted on to bring out best from Carr, who went from MVP candidate in 2016 to mediocre last season as he dealt with injuries. His protection got worse and his receivers were inconsistent. Even if Gruden does manage to spark offense, defense will need to take big step forward for Raiders to get back into playoff contention.
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