Monthly Archives: January 2016

J.R. Smith Authentic Jersey

CLEVELAND — J.R. Smith(J.R. Smith Jersey) has been cleared of any culpability stemming from an alleged incident between the Cleveland Cavaliers guard and a teenage fan in the Chelsea neighborhood of New York in November.

The New York Police Department and district attorney’s office have closed their investigation, Smith’s criminal defense lawyer, Alex Spiro, announced Friday.

“After a thorough investigation of the circumstances surrounding this case, we have concluded that the evidence does not support criminal charges against Mr. Smith,” Patrick Muncie, spokesman for the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, confirmed in a statement to ESPN.com.

Smith, 30, was accused of choking 19-year-old Justin Brown at about 4 a.m. ET on Nov. 13, outside Artichoke Basille’s Pizza, not far from the popular lounge 1 OAK, after Brown allegedly heckled Smith for being traded from the New York Knicks to the Cavs last season.

Smith and the Cavs were in New York to play a road game against the Knicks.

“We are thankful there was not a rush to judgment and the truth came out,” Spiro said in a statement.

A police report was not filed until three days after the alleged confrontation. When news of the alleged altercation broke, Smith initially took to Twitter to deny its veracity.

He later told ESPN.com that the Cavs organization “had my back 110 percent” after the ordeal.

Smith, a 12-year veteran, is averaging 12.2 points and 2.6 rebounds for Cleveland this season while starting 37 games.

James Harden Authentic Jersey

HOUSTON — It was early in the season when James Harden(James Harden Jersey)’s patience was tested most.

The Houston Rockets had lost their first three games by an average of 20 points, and nothing was working.

Yet here was Harden, the Rockets’ best player, telling anyone who would listen to wait because things would improve. It had undergone several changes. Dwight Howard, Harden’s superstar counterpart, reiterated that message.

Harden said the struggles reminded him of what the Cleveland Cavaliers went through in their first season with Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love and LeBron James together. Indeed, the Cavs started 5-7 last season and sat 19-20 in mid-January 2015, having lost six consecutive games, five of which came with James inactive.

But the Cavs improved, beginning with a 12-game winning streak, and they eventually pushed themselves to the NBA Finals before losing to Golden State.

That’s what gave Harden hope through an 0-3 start and the firing of coach Kevin McHale. True to his words, the Rockets have gotten better, their heads above .500 (21-19) and riding a season-high five-game winning streak as they host the Cavs on Friday night (9:30 p.m. ET, ESPN).

The Rockets are not an elite team, something general manager Daryl Morey and team owner Leslie Alexander expected, but they are much improved. Still, there’s work that needs to be done.

“I’m worried given our goals,” Morey said. “We still have a lot of improvement to do and we’re working towards that.”

Added Harden: “We’re playing a lot better than a month ago. So that feeling is different. Now we got to figure out how to be on the same page at all times. These last few games have offered some tests, we’ve been through some adversity and we figured it out together against some good teams. Hopefully we can keep that streak going on.”

Let’s look at five things the Rockets have done to right the ship:
Better defense

During the Rockets’ five-game winning streak, opponents scored fewer than 100 points three times and averaged 96.6 PPG. With J.B. Bickerstaff as the coach, the defensive efficiency has improved from 106.5 in 11 games under McHale to 104.5.

“We’re more aggressive, playing harder and we’re rebounding better,” forward Corey Brewer said. “Once we rebound and we’re aggressive, we’re going to be fine.”

True, there still are defensive lapses, particularly with Harden along the perimeter and in the frontcourt, where the Rockets struggle with backdoor cuts. In losses to less talented teams such as Brooklyn and Denver, the Rockets were outrebounded. They have the third-worst field goal percentage defense at 46.5 percent.

Yet the team does have Howard, third in the league in rebounding at 11.9, and Clint Capela at power forward, with his 2.2 defensive box plus/minus.

Elite Martavis Bryant Jersey

PITTSBURGH — Martavis Bryant(Martavis Bryant Jersey) showed he can catch Ben Roethlisberger’s hardest throw.

The Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver is not backing down from his quarterback’s public challenge to “toughen up” entering Saturday’s AFC wild-card matchup with the Cincinnati Bengals.

“I’m happy he issued out the challenge,” Bryant said. “I accept it.”

On his weekly radio show with 93.7 The Fan Pittsburgh, Roethlisberger said Bryant has to “get tough, and you’ve got to make tough plays and you’ve got to make tough catches.” Roethlisberger said the comment was made out of love, and he reiterated that stance Wednesday in the locker room, emphasizing he’s trying to maximize the potential of a talented receiver.

“Nothing more than just a challenge,” Roethlisberger said.

After 48 catches, 759 receiving yards and seven touchdowns (one rushing) in his first nine games of 2015, Bryant struggled in his final two, with a combined two catches for 6 yards, dealing with an illness during Week 17 and leaving the game against the Cleveland Browns in the first quarter after hurting his neck.

From his locker Wednesday, Bryant spoke with eagerness to get back on the field and said Roethlisberger loves him like a big brother.

“If he feels you need to step up your game, it’s his job to call you out,” Bryant said of his quarterback. “I’m happy he did it. It woke me up. I’m ready to work … He wants to see me be great.”

Bryant said he plans to “regenerate,” focusing on what he used to do, which is catch touchdowns and keep opposing defensive backs honest.

Even after the four-game scoring drought, Bryant still has 15 touchdowns in 21 career games while averaging 17.3 yards per catch.

What happens if Cincinnati plays press coverage on him?

“Take advantage of it, like I always do,” Bryant said.

As for Roethlisberger’s callout, teammates don’t mind.

Defensive end Cam Heyward said the Steelers expect a lot out of each other.

“We’re all trying to win here – we’re not worrying about feelings,” Heyward said. “He’s our leader. I support him in whatever decision he makes. He’s been there. He’s won two Super Bowls. You’ve really got to buckle down and listen to a guy like that.”