Foles throws 3 TDs as Eagles rout Vikings in NFC Championship Game

There will be no home Super Bowl for the Minnesota Vikings.
Nick Foles completed 26 of his 33 pass attempts for 352 yards and three touchdowns against the Vikings Sunday night.

Nick Foles completed 26 of his 33 pass attempts for 352 yards and three touchdowns against the Vikings Sunday night. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

There will be no home Super Bowl for the Minnesota Vikings. And Bill Belichick and Tom Brady will be waiting for the Philadelphia Eagles, just as they were 13 years ago.

Nick Foles threw for 352 yards and three touchdowns and the Philadelphia defense forced two critical turnovers as the Eagles defeated the Vikings, 38-7, in Sunday’s NFC Championship Game at a rapturous Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia.


— Philadelphia Eagles (@Eagles) January 22, 2018

The Eagles will play the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LII at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minn. on Feb. 4. The Patriots defeated the Jaguars earlier Sunday, 24-20, to advance to their eighth Super Bowl since 2001.

The franchises previously met at Super XXIX in Jacksonville, Fla. back in 2005. The Patriots won that matchup, 24-21, to win their third Super Bowl in four seasons. They will try to repeat that accomplishment against the Eagles in two weeks.

The Vikings took the opening kickoff 75 yards in nine plays, capped by Case Keenum’s 25-yard touchdown pass to Kyle Rudolph. But that was Minnesota’s last good moment of the night.

On Minnesota’s second possession, Keenum was hit as he attempted a third-down throw and Patrick Robinson intercepted him. Robinson weaved his way into the end zone from 50 yards away, and the rout was on.


— Philadelphia Eagles (@Eagles) January 22, 2018

The Eagles offense took over in the second quarter. First LeGarrette Blount — who won a Super Bowl ring with New England last year — plowed over the goal line from 11 yards out to make it 14-7, Philadelphia.

At that point, the Vikings still had hope of getting back into the game. But the Eagles defense — and Foles — soon snuffed that hope out.

The rookie knocks it free, the vet scoops it

— Philadelphia Eagles (@Eagles) January 22, 2018

With 3:25 to go and Minnesota at the Philadelphia 16, Keenum was strip-sacked by Derek Barnett. Chris Long recovered the fumble and on the ensuing drive, Foles hit Alshon Jeffery for a 53-yard touchdown.

Foles to @TheWorldof_AJ. Six

— Philadelphia Eagles (@Eagles) January 22, 2018

Philadelphia got the ball back after a Vikings punt with 29 seconds left. Rather than taking a knee to end the half, Foles completed passes of 11, 36, and 13 yards to set up a 38-yard Jake Elliott field goal to end the half.

— Philadelphia Eagles (@Eagles) January 22, 2018

The score was 24-7 entering the second half and the Eagles added to it on their first possession of the third quarter as Wentz found Torrey Smith for a 41-yard touchdown pass on a flea-flicker. Foles capped off his night with a 5-yard touchdown toss to Jeffery, ensuring the Eagles would move one win from their first NFL Championship since 1960.

Vikings no match for Eagles, Philly heading to Super Bowl with 38-7 win

Foles, Eagles fly into Super Bowl, rout Vikings 38-7

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Hey Philly, maybe it’s time to forget Carson Wentz. Nick Foles might be good enough to win the Eagles their first Super Bowl.

Foles was on fire Sunday night against the stingiest scoring defense in the NFL. Philly made big play after big play on both sides of the ball in a stunning 38-7 rout of the Minnesota Vikings for the NFC championship.

Next up after their most-lopsided playoff victory: the Eagles’ first Super Bowl appearance since 2005, against the team that beat them then, AFC champion New England.

Foles replaced the injured Wentz in Game 13 and finished off a rise from last place to first in the NFC East. There were plenty of doubters entering the playoffs, but the former starter in Philadelphia (15-3) under another regime has been brilliant.

His best work might have come against Minnesota (14-4) and its vaunted defense that was torn apart in every manner. Foles threw for 352 yards and three touchdowns, showing poise, escapability and moxie in going 26 for 33.

In doing so — helped greatly by the Eagles’ domination on defense and a spectacular weaving 50-yard interception return TD by Patrick Robinson — Foles ruined the Vikings’ hopes of being the first team to play in a Super Bowl in its own stadium

Instead, the Eagles will seek their first Super Bowl crown in Minnesota on Feb. 4; their last championship came in 1960.

OVER AT HALFTIME: Minnesota made it look easy at the outset, driving 75 yards on nine plays, each of which gained yardage. The payoff was a 25-yard throw from Case Keenum to Kyle Rudolph well behind linebacker Najee Goode as Philadelphia’s defense looked confused on the play.

That didn’t happen again for Philly.



PHOTOS: 2017 Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders

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Defensive end Chris Long had a huge hand in Robinson’s 50-yard interception return. Long burst in from the left side and got his arm on Keenum to disrupt the throw for Adam Thielen. The ball went directly to Robinson, who sped down the left side, then made a sharp cut to the right and got a superb block from Ronald Darby to reach the end zone.

Inspired, Philly’s D forced a three-and-out, the Foles led the Eagles on a 12-play, 75-yard masterpiece of a drive. LeGarrette Blount showed all his power and escapability on an 11-yard surge up the middle for a 14-7 lead.

Turnovers, something Minnesota rarely committed with an NFC-low 14 during the season, hurt again and not only ended a solid drive, but set up more Philly points. On third down from the Eagles 15, Keenum was blindsided by rookie Derek Barnett, and the ball bounced directly to Long.

It was only the second strip-sack the Vikings have been victimized by all season.

A blown coverage — another rarity for Minnesota — on third-and-10 allowed Alshon Jeffery to get wide open for a 53-yard TD, and Philadelphia tacked on Elliott’s 38-yard field goal to make it 24-3 at halftime.

DANCING IN THE LINC: Fifty seconds into the final quarter, with the score 38-7, Eagles players on the sideline and waiting to kick off on the field were dancing up a storm and fans were chanting “We want Brady.”

They get Tom Brady and company in two weeks.

BACK TO THE BIG GAME: Long won the Super Bowl last year with the Patriots, as did Blount. Now they return on the other side.

QUICK DRIVE: Philadelphia got the ball with 29 seconds remaining in the first half at its 20. Foles hit passes of 11 yards to Jay Ajayi, 36 to Ertz and 13 to Ajayi before Elliott’s field goal to end the half.

THIRD DOWNS: Minnesota was the league’s best team defending third downs and was third in converting them. Yet Philadelphia went 10 for 14.

NEXT UP: Minnesota returns home to watch two other teams play at its stadium for the Lombardi Trophy.

With the entire stadium singing “Fly Eagles Fly” during the NFC trophy ceremony, Philadelphia can look forward to facing New England in Super Bowl 52 on Feb. 4

Aziz Ansari receives no applause, skips the Screen Actors Guild Awards amid sexual misconduct controversy

The stars gathered once again to attend the 2018 Screen Actors Guild Awards amid a shroud of controversy with regards to the “#MeToo” movement.

Aziz Ansari denies sexual assault claims

Fox411: Aziz Ansari responds to accusation of sexual assault, says sex was consensual.

The stars gathered once again to attend the 2018 Screen Actors Guild Awards amid a shroud of controversy with regards to the “#MeToo” movement. One star in particular, Aziz Ansari, was the subject of a lot of intrigue by skipping the ceremony and receiving no applause for his nomination.

The night kicked off with the reading of the list of nominees for outstanding performance by a male actor in a comedy series, where Ansari was nominated for his role on the Netflix series “Master of None.” As fellow nominees Anthony Anderson, Larry David, Sean Hayes, William H. Macy and Marc Maron received applause after their names were read, there was a noticeable silence when Ansari’s name was called.

The award went to William H. Macy for his role in “Shameless.”

Actor Aziz Ansari arrives at the 73rd Golden Globe Awards in Beverly Hills, California January 10, 2016.

Aziz Ansari, seen here at the 2016 Golden Globe Awards, was a no-show at Sunday’s Screen Actors Guild Awards. (REUTERS, File)

It didn’t take viewers long to notice that the comedian had skipped the show entirely just days after allegations from a woman he went on a date with last year came forward with allegations of sexual misconduct against him.

As previously reported, an anonymous woman revealed in an article with in which she detailed the events of a date with Ansari where he allegedly would not take “no” for an answer. While the two engaged in sexul activity, Ansari reportedly wouldn’t stop pressuring her for sex, which she details as a violation in her account.

In a response to Fox News, Ansari explained that he remembers the event, which he says “by all indications was completely consensual.”

“The next day, I got a text from her saying that although ‘it may have seemed okay,’ upon further reflection, she felt uncomfortable. It was true that everything did seem okay to me, so when I heard that it was not the case for her, I was surprised and concerned. I took her words to heart and responded privately after taking the time to process what she had said. I continue to support the movement that is happening in our culture. It is necessary and long overdue,” the actor said.

How can Jaguars beat Patriots? It’s elementary

Jaguars coach Doug Marrone received a folder Thursday filled with notes from first-graders at The Bolles School in Jacksonville on how to beat the Patriots.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Jacksonville Jaguars coach Doug Marrone has some tips on how to beat the New England Patriots.

And not all of them are from Tom Coughlin.

More Jacksonville Jaguars news

Marrone received a folder Thursday filled with notes from first-graders at The Bolles School in Jacksonville.

The folder read, “Dear Jags, Want to beat the Patriots? Here’s how: Advice from your #1 fans in Bolles First Grade.”

Marrone held it up during his news conference and said, “I’ve got to get through this. This is from the Bolles first grade and this has the answers that maybe I’m looking for, maybe how we can stop the Patriots.”

He later added, “We’re just taking as much advice as we can because we need it.”

The five-time Super Bowl champion Patriots (14-3) will host the Jaguars (12-6) in the AFC championship game Sunday.

Marrone jokes that it’s “hard to believe how so many people have an opinion on how to beat the New England Patriots and no one’s really done that.”

Jason Driskel won’t be back as FAU quarterback in 2018

Florida Atlantic quarterback Jason Driskel announced Thursday that he’s ending his football career.

BOCA RATON, Fla. (AP) — Jason Driskel is ready for the real world.

The Florida Atlantic quarterback announced Thursday that he’s ending his football career, even though he would have been eligible to return to the Owls next season. Driskel is about to graduate with a civil engineering degree.

“It was always a dream of mine to play quarterback at the FBS level and I’m proud of accomplishing that goal,” Driskel wrote in a social media post . “It has never been a dream of mine, however, to play football beyond college.”

Driskel helped lead the Owls to an 11-3 season in 2017, along with a Conference USA championship and a win in the Boca Raton Bowl. He completed 67 percent of his passes this past season for 2,247 yards and 15 touchdowns, while throwing only four interceptions.

Driskel was the offensive MVP of FAU’s 50-3 win over Akron in the Boca Raton Bowl, throwing for 270 yards and two touchdowns and running for another two scores.

“I undoubtedly will miss my teammates and the game with all of its trials and tribulations, but I will not regret the decision to move into the next chapter of my life,” Driskel wrote.

He thanked several coaches for their help at FAU, including current Owls head coach Lane Kiffin and former coaches Charlie Partridge and Brian Wright.

Driskel said Partridge honored his commitment to FAU “when he didn’t have to,” and Wright “saw in me what a lot of others did not.”

He also told FAU fans that even brighter days are ahead with Kiffin, who is entering his second season with the Owls.

“It was not always easy, I am sure, but you stuck with us through the hard times,” Driskel told fans. “You have now been rewarded with a great season and a great team that will continue to improve under Coach Kiffin.”

Ducks beat Penguins with 4-goal 2nd period

The Ducks erupted in the second period to start a critical five-game homestand off with an important win.

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Though the Anaheim Ducks found themselves trailing at the end of the first period despite controlling play, head coach Randy Carlyle had a simple message: Stick with it.

The Ducks did that and erupted in the second period to start a critical five-game homestand off with an important win.

Rickard Rakell and Adam Henrique scored 1:35 apart to give Anaheim the lead during its four-goal second period, and the Ducks went on to beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-3 Wednesday night.

“Time for us to get a couple bounces I think,” Wagner said, as Anaheim scored four goals in a period for first time since doing it in the third period at Buffalo last Feb. 9.

Chris Wagner and Ondrej Kase also scored for Anaheim in the middle period, and Hampus Lindholm added an empty-netter in the final second of the game. John Gibson stopped 30 shots to help the Ducks improve to 7-3-1 in their last 11 games.

Jake Guentzel, Phil Kessel and Evgeni Malkin scored for the Penguins, who had a four-game win streak snapped. Tristan Jarry made 28 saves.

With the Ducks trailing 1-0, Rakell tied it on a second redirect of a shot by Francois Beauchemin at 4:17 of the second.

A scoring change after the game determined Ryan Getzlaf tipped Beauchemin’s shot before Rakell, giving the Ducks captain his 600th career assist in somewhat anticlimactic fashion. Getzlaf is the first player in franchise history with 600 assists.

Henrique then put them ahead at 5:42, beating Jarry with a wraparound while the rookie was caught flatfooted at the opposite post trying to get his stick back.

Wagner scored on a short-handed breakaway to make it 3-1 at 9:24, notching the third special-teams goal of his career, all of which have come this season.

Kase’s smooth breakaway backhand with 1:32 left in the period capped off the scoring deluge. Kase, who also had an assist, has five points in his last three games.

“I think they take chances and they play run-and-gun, so you’re going to get your chances. Tonight we buried a good amount of them and that’s what got us the W,” Wagner said.

Kessel had a power-play goal to make it 4-2 with 10:25 remaining in the third, and Guentzel added a power-play goal with 5:54 remaining to pull the Penguins within one. Sidney Crosby had assists on both goals, giving him 13 points and 10 assists during a five-game point streak.

“We just made big mistakes in the second period, and give up that many goals and that many breakaways in a short period of time you’re putting yourself in a tough spot,” Crosby said. “We didn’t help ourselves.”

Lindholm capped the scoring with 0.1 seconds left to finally seal the win, but Carlyle was disappointed the Ducks let the Penguins back in the game with undisciplined penalties knowing Pittsburgh has the best power play in the NHL. The Penguins have 22 power-play goals on the road, four ahead of Vancouver, Tampa Bay, Philadelphia and Winnipeg, which are tied for second-most.

“It was disappointing, obviously, that we took two penalties and they scored two goals to make it exciting, but I guess the entertainment of tonight’s game was up there,” Carlyle said.

Malkin’s 20th goal of the season gave the Penguins a 1-0 lead late in the first period. A sustained forecheck eventually resulted in a takeaway by Carl Hagelin, leading to Malkin scoring from the right circle. It was Malkin’s sixth goal in the last five games and gave him 20 for the fifth straight season and 10th time in his career. He joined Mario Lemieux, Jaromir Jagr and Crosby as the only Penguins with at least 10 seasons of 20 goals.

Penguins goalie Matt Murray left the team for its three-game California road trip following the death of his father on Tuesday.

NOTES:Ducks LW Andrew Cogliano served the final game of his two-game suspension for an illegal check to Kings F Adrian Kempe. . Hagelin extended his point streak to four games, with one goal and four assists in that span. … Ducks D Cam Fowler had two assists.


Penguins: Visit the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday.

Ducks: Host the Kings on Friday seeking their second win in the Freeway Faceoff rivalry in six days.

— —

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Clippers win 6th in a row with victory over Nuggets

The Clippers’ bench narrowed a 10-point deficit to one heading into the fourth quarter, and Los Angeles hung on for a 109-104 victory over the Nuggets.

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Credit the Goon Squad with a big assist.

The Clippers’ bench narrowed a 10-point deficit to one heading into the fourth quarter, and Los Angeles hung on for a 109-104 victory over the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday night.

Blake Griffin had 20 points and 12 rebounds, Montrezl Harrell added 18 points and Lou Williams had 17 for the Clippers in their season-high sixth straight win. Los Angeles is 12-3 in its last 15 games, tied with Golden State for the NBA’s best record over that span.

“They were huge,” Griffin said of the reserves. “We rely on them heavily. This team trusts each other. That’s what happens when everybody gets a touch, gets a shot.”

The Clippers were just 7 of 14 from the free-throw line over the final 3:09, but escaped with the help of last-second turnovers by Will Barton and Wilson Chandler. The Nuggets had 21 turnovers.

“That’s back-to-back nights where defenses have turned up the pressure, turned up the heat and we have not handled it well,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said.

Gary Harris scored 19 points in the Nuggets’ fifth straight road loss. Nikola Jokic added 18 points, Barton had 17 points and Mason Plumlee had 16 points and 14 rebounds.

The Nuggets led by five early in the fourth, but the Clippers scored eight straight points, including five by Wesley Johnson, to go up 90-87.

“This team is a physical, tough team,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. “We have a bunch of young guys who are hungry. They’re trying to create a career.”

Neither team led by more than seven points the rest of the game.

Clinging to a 99-98 lead, Harrell missed a pair of free throws, shaking his head as he backed away from the line. He got fouled twice more in succession and made 3 of 4, extending the lead to 102-98.

Harrell came up with a block on Plumlee at the other end, and Johnson hit a 3-pointer, making it 105-98.

“It was big for us. I made him drive it and go wide,” Harrell said. “We just kept fighting.”

Denver got to 106-104 on four straight points by Harris and two free throws from Barton.

“We’re getting to a spot of being a little more consistent in those moments, but ultimately guys are still learning,” Nuggets forward Richard Jefferson said. “Most of the guys who are in these positions are in these positions for the first time.”

The Nuggets ran off 11 straight points for a 79-69 lead in the third only to blow all of it. The Clippers answered with their own 11-0 spurt, including consecutive 3-pointers by Tyrone Wallace and Harrell, to lead 80-79. Emmanuel Mudiay’s basket sent Denver into the fourth leading 81-80.


“If teams are watching us, they’re just going to ratchet up the pressure and watch us turn the ball over and self-implode.” — Malone.


The Nuggets fell to 2-7 in the second game of a back-to-back. They were coming off a win over Dallas on Tuesday. They’ve won just one back-to-back this season. Jefferson, a 17-year veteran, said his younger teammates need to realize intensity is going to increase in the second half and they can’t play with the same focus they do in the first half. “Instead of a nine-point lead, it goes to a tie game,” he said, “and now you’re playing off a back-to-back, you lost your cushion and you’ve energized them for no reason.”


Nuggets: They are 8-14 against the Clippers at Staples Center over the last 11 seasons. … Denver fell to 7-17 on the road overall and 3-13 against the West away from home.

Clippers: C DeAndre Jordan (sprained left ankle) missed his third straight game and the swelling hasn’t gone down. Jordan had initially been expected back Saturday in Utah, but Rivers said he’s not ready and won’t be rushed. … G Austin Rivers (right ankle) has missed eight straight games. He is wearing a boot and will be re-evaluated in the next week.


Nuggets: Host Phoenix on Friday, having beaten the Suns by 23 on Jan. 3.

Clippers: At Utah on Saturday. The teams split their first two meetings, both in Los Angeles.

— —

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Preview: Coyotes at Predators, 5:30 p.m., FOX Sports Arizona

Coyotes have won 3 of last 4 over Nashville; Predators dealing with injuries to Forsberg, Arvidsson and Johansen

Streaming live on FOX Sports GO

Injuries are a part of any season. They have hit the Nashville Predators at the midway point of 2017-18, potentially leaving them without their entire first line for Thursday night’s visit from the Arizona Coyotes.

Fortunately for Nashville (26-11-6), it got plenty of practice at dealing with key injuries during last spring’s run to the Stanley Cup Finals. So if it has to play Arizona without Filip Forsberg (upper-body), Viktor Arvidsson (lower-body) and Ryan Johansen (upper-body), it wouldn’t be ideal by any means, but so be it.

“It’s what you have to do. It’s kind of what we talked about all last year during the playoffs,” Predators coach Peter Laviolette said. “Whoever’s playing, whoever gets the minutes, we’re confident in everybody in this room and we’re going to get the job done.

“Obviously, when you’re missing those guys, they’re spectacular and they create a lot of offense for us. But we’ve got a lot of good hockey players in here to step up and take those minutes. It might end up like a one-to-nothing game with those guys filling in those minutes and just working hard.”

Which is exactly how Tuesday night’s win over the Vegas Golden Knights played out. Despite getting outshot 43-27 by the Western Conference’s top team, Nashville got a sterling performance from goalie Juuse Saros and a third-period goal from Kevin Fiala to leave the rink with two points.

Laviolette’s move to send Saros down to Milwaukee of the AHL during the Predators’ week off paid dividends. He stayed sharp by playing three games in four days and was the best player on the ice on a night when Nashville was in defend mode most of the game.

“I always try to improve every day and help the team as much as I can when I get in,” Saros said. “Right now, I’m feeling good, but obviously you can’t get too comfortable.”

That could also apply to the Predators when it comes to playing the Coyotes (10-28-8). While Arizona is the NHL’s worst team, it has three wins in four games over Nashville the last year and a half, including a 3-2 overtime decision on Jan. 4 in Glendale.

The Predators led that game late in the third period, but an Austin Watson penalty led to a tying goal that forced extra hockey. Christian Fischer scored the winner for a rare Coyotes victory.

Arizona nearly pulled off a comeback win Tuesday night, erasing a 2-0 deficit and forcing overtime before falling 3-2 to San Jose in a shootout. It was its 14th loss in 17 games, four of them in overtime or a shootout.

“There’s not a ton of games where we’ve been blown out or embarrassed,” Coyotes center Brad Richardson said. “It’s just games where we slip here or there and end up losing the game. It’s a fine line, and we just seem to be on the wrong side of it a lot.”

Arizona is expected to start Antti Raanta (6-12-4, 2.68 goal-against average, .915 save percentage) in net against Pekka Rinne (21-8-3, 2.43 GAA, .925 save percentage). Rinne hasn’t played since a 2-1 win on Jan. 9 over Edmonton.

Pacers seek fourth straight win while showing ‘toughness’ without Turner

Indiana Pacers-Portland Trail Blazers preview

PORTLAND, Ore. — The Indiana Pacers invade Moda Center on Thursday night to face the Portland Trail Blazers with a positive mindset and a chance to continue to climb in the NBA’s Eastern Conference standings.

Indiana (24-20) carries a three-game winning streak into Portland, including victories over Phoenix 120-97 and Utah 109-94 to start a five-game road trip.

The Pacers are doing it without center Myles Turner, who will miss his fifth straight game Thursday with an elbow injury.

“The NBA is about adapting,”Pacers coach Nate McMillan told the Indianapolis Star. “Injuries are part of it. We have, for the most part, been able to have guys fill in and be ready to play and continue to win some games with Myles being down.”

Indiana shot superbly against Utah — 53.2 percent from the field, including 14 of 26 from 3-point range.

“Our guys showed toughness,” McMillan said. “This is all part of learning how to win games and play the game together while playing without Myles. Our bench did another solid job.”

Leading the way is 6-4 shooting guard Victor Oladipo, in his first season with Indiana aftera trade that sent Paul George to Oklahoma City. Oladipo, averaging 24.3 points, 5.2 rebounds and 4.0 assists, is a leading candidate for the league’s Most Improved Player Award. He has also become the spiritual leader of the Pacers.

“I guess Victor has bad days, but I never see them,” McMillan said. “We’ve been down in a lot of games this season, but you look at Victor in the huddle and he’s always the same. That calmness has helped us, along with his play. And he has that infectious personality.”

Oladipo had 28 points, six rebounds and six assists against Utah, sinking 9 of 16 from the field, 5 of 8 from 3-point range and 5 of 6 from the foul line. Indiana also got 15 points and eight rebounds from center Domas Sabonis, the other piece in the George trade.

Portland (23-21) is coming off a 118-111 home victory over Phoenix. Point guard Damian Lillard scored 31 points on 11-for-19 shooting, including 4 for 8 from the 3-point line, and 5 for 5 from the foul line. It’s the best he has looked in the four games since he returned from missing seven of nine games with hamstring and calf issues, and the most points he has scored since pouring in 39 against Golden State on Dec. 11.

“When I came back, I knew it would take some time to be able to move comfortably,” said Lillard, who also had seven assists, five rebounds and only one turnover in 36 minutes. “The last three games, it’s gotten better each game. In Minnesota (on Sunday), I felt really good moving around. Tonight, I felt almost normal at times.”

Portland is seventh in the NBA in defensive rating and 17th in offensive rating. But the defensive rating has gonedown while the offensive rating has goneup in recent weeks.

The Blazers have scored 110 points or more in eight of their last nine games, averaging 113.1. Over that span, opponents have averaged 113.8. Before that span, Portland had yielded 100.3 points per contest.

“I think our defense has slipped a little bit as the offense has gotten better,” Lillard said. “We’re at the point where we’re trying to sustain the level of offense we’re at now, but also get our defense back to where we want it.”



2017-18 NBA Cheerleaders

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Blues face Senators team trying to avoid shakeup before trade deadline

St. Louis Blues-Ottawa Senators preview

OTTAWA — A week off helped the Ottawa Senators get back to health, but their playoff hopes remain on life support with the St. Louis Blues coming to town.

The Senators need to go on a run unlike any they’ve had to avoid a shakeup before the trade deadline, and they need to start with Thursday’s game against the Blues at Canadian Tire Centre.

Even that might not get them into the playoffs, but it would at least show general manager Pierre Dorion there’s reason to keep the band together.

The Senators (15-18-9) showed some fighting spirit before the break, winning three of five games and claiming seven of a possible 10 points. They also started getting some offense from Matt Duchene, who scored three goals and three assists in the past four games to match his production in the first 24 games after being acquired from Colorado.

But they’re still 15 points behind the Toronto Maple Leafs for the third spot in the Atlantic Division, with a slightly smaller gap — but more teams to pass — to get to the final wild-card spot.

“Guys are generally really, really excited to get back this time,” winger Mark Stone said after Wednesday night’s practice. “We were playing some good hockey going into the break, so compared to the Christmas break, guys are a lot more excited about how we’re playing.

“We can’t give up now. We still have half the year to make up for it, so we have to keep things simple game by game and day by day. And we got better (Wednesday) at practice.”

While the Senators will likely still be without center Jean-Gabriel Pageau, they are expected to have winger Bobby Ryan, center Nate Thompson and defenseman Mark Borowiecki back for Thursday’s game.

Borowiecki, the team’s most physical blue liner, hasn’t played since suffering a concussion Nov. 19.

“I would love to (get a hit early), try to set a bit of energy in this building, but when you chase it, that’s when things don’t go your way,” he said. “You have to find your spot. It’s just a matter of making sure you’re in the right places and being able to make those hits if they do come.”

Each game is big for the Blues (27-17-3) these days. They are two points out of the top spot in the Central Division, but also two up on the Dallas Stars in the race for third.

It appears Vince Dunn has kept hold of a spot on the blue line after playing a strong game and scoring the winning goal in a 2-1 overtime victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday.

The Blues could also stick with goalie Carter Hutton, who made 30 saves to snap the team out of a three-game losing streak. Hutton has spent most of the season as the Blues’ backup but has been the team’s starter for most of the new year with Jake Allen struggling.

“I thought(Hutton) did a heck of a job,” coach Mike Yeo told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on Wednesday. “I don’t know that he was tested a lot early. Obviously, the big moment for me was when they scored (a short-handed goal), I thought he made two, three really good saves. It could’ve been 2-0, 3-0 there right off the hop. And that was when he played his best and that gave us a chance to tie the game.”

The Senators need some strong goaltending of their own as starter Craig Anderson has struggled through the first half of the season with a 12-13-5 record to go along with a 3.22 goals-against average and a .899 save percentage.



2017-18 NHL ice girls

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