Knicks suffer epic collapse in loss to Pacers

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Knicks suffer epic collapse in loss to Pacers

From Comcast SportsNet
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- The matchup was reminiscent of the classic Pacers-Knicks games from the 1990s. The crowd was electric, the action was chippy, Reggie Miller jerseys were plentiful, and Indiana rallied from a seemingly hopeless deficit to win. Danny Granger played the role of Miller, scoring 14 of his 27 points in the fourth quarter as the Pacers rallied from 17 points down late in the third quarter to take a 112-104 victory on Tuesday night. Granger made all three of his 3-pointers in the fourth quarter, a fitting performance one day after Miller was announced as a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame's 2012 class. Miller, one of the most prolific 3-point shooters in NBA history, was known for clutch shooting and leading comebacks. He saved his most spectacular performances for the Knicks. "I guess it was from one shooter to another, my tribute to Reggie Miller," Granger said. Area 55, designated for Roy Hibbert fans, was filled with more No. 31 Reggie Miller jerseys than the usual No. 55 Hibbert jerseys. Fans in that section at one point unveiled a banner resembling the one that hangs in the rafters honoring Miller. Chants of "Reg-gie, Reg-gie" rang out from that section before the game, but in the fourth quarter, those chants became "Dan-ny, Dan-ny." Granger has scored plenty of points in his career, he wants the reputation Miller has -- that of a winner. "It's playoff time," Granger said. "We need momentum going into these playoffs. For the first time in a lot of years, we have a really good team and can make a lot of noise." Paul George scored 12 of his 18 points in the fourth quarter and reserves Leandro Barbosa and Dahntay Jones added 12 points each for the Pacers. Carmelo Anthony scored a season-high 39 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for the Knicks. Landry Fields scored 15 points and Tyson Chandler added 12 points and 14 rebounds for New York, which fell to 9-3 under interim coach Mike Woodson. Anthony said the loss was inexcusable. "I think we got a little bit complacent being up 17," he said. "They stuck with it, they played harder coming into that fourth quarter. They played harder." New York is battling for a playoff spot without two of its best players. Forward Amare Stoudemire (back) missed a fifth straight game, and point guard Jeremy Lin is out for the regular season after having surgery on his left knee. The loss stung considering the fourth-quarter collapse and the fact that the Knicks nearly stole one on the road short-handed. "It was just unfortunate," Anthony said. "We can't have that." Indiana led 101-93 in the fourth quarter before New York rallied. A three-point play, then a 3-pointer by Anthony cut Indiana's lead to 101-99. The Pacers led 106-102 and New York had another chance to get close. Anthony's 3-pointer from the left wing was off and Paul George rebounded. George was fouled and made two free throws. George then stole J.R. Smith's inbounds pass and dunked. On New York's next offensive possession, Smith threw Barbosa to the ground, was called for a flagrant 2 and ejected. New York finished the first half on an 11-2 run to take a 59-51 lead into the break, and the Knicks quickly pushed the lead to double figures at the start of the third quarter. A three-point play by Baron Davis bumped New York's lead to 13 before Indiana rallied. Indiana's David West got loose on a fast break, and made a basket as he was undercut by New York's Iman Shumpert. West converted the free throw to cut New York's lead to eight points, and a jumper by George Hill drew Indiana within six. New York rallied, and a 3-pointer by Steve Novak pushed New York's lead to 87-70 in the final minute of the third quarter. Indiana opened the fourth quarter with an 8-2 run. A layup by Granger cut New York's lead to 89-80, got the crowd back into the game and forced New York to call timeout. Indiana continued its run after the timeout. A free throw by George cut New York's lead to one point, and Granger's 3-pointer with 6:35 to go tied the game at 91. "They made a huge run on their home court," Anthony said. "They tried to make one last push, which they did. Even though we were up, it seemed like we were battling uphill the whole time." A lineup switch in the second half keyed Indiana's comeback. The Pacers moved George from shooting guard to small forward and Granger from small forward to power forward to give Anthony a tougher matchup. Anthony was playing power forward because Stoudemire was out, and Indiana's usual power forwards, West and Tyler Hansbrough, couldn't keep up. Pacers coach Frank Vogel said Granger accepted the challenge. "He was dominant on both ends," Vogel said. "He really manned up and guarded Carmelo at a very high level." Granger wasn't too upset with Anthony's point total. "Carmelo, it's hard to stop him completely," Granger said. "I just wanted to make his shots difficult for him. Even the shots he made, just make them tough shots. He got 39 points, but we got the win." Notes: The Pacers wore their alternate gold uniforms. ... Indiana matched its win total of 32 from 2009-10, Jim O'Brien's last full season as coach. ... Novak's 3-pointer at the end of the first quarter tied the game at 31. ... Indiana University coach Tom Crean attended the game.

Michal Rozsival, Jordin Tootoo extensions give Blackhawks flexibility at expansion draft

Michal Rozsival, Jordin Tootoo extensions give Blackhawks flexibility at expansion draft

The Blackhawks agreed to one-year contract extensions with defenseman Michal Rozsival and forward Jordin Tootoo, the team announced Tuesday.

Rozsival's deal is worth $650,000 while Tootoo's deal carries a $700,000 cap hit, according to ESPN's Pierre LeBrun.

The move gives the Blackhawks two players eligible to be exposed during this summer's expansion draft.

NHL teams must expose two forwards and one defenseman that have played at least 40 games in 2015-16 or more than 70 in 2016-17, and they must be under contract in 2017-18.

[MORE: The Blackhawks' 9-1 February by the numbers]

Rozsival and Tootoo meet those requirements, which means the Blackhawks can now protect Ryan Hartman, who is also eligible.

They are allowed to protect seven forwards, three defensemen and one goaltender or eight skaters (regardless of position) and one goaltender. 

Rozsival, 38, has one goal and one assist in 16 games this season, often serving as the team's extra defenseman. Tootoo, 34, has no points in 36 games.

NFL Scouting Combine represents opportunities — good and bad — for Bears

NFL Scouting Combine represents opportunities — good and bad — for Bears

The NFL Scouting Combine convening this week in Indianapolis isn't really the high point of pre-draft assessing being done by NFL teams. Those evaluations have been going on for many, many months — on college campuses, at bowl games — and will go on with Pro Days and selected visits to team headquarters.
 
But what it does represent is two things: a chance for teams to probe for detailed medical information on some 300 potential draftees, and a case study in savvy brand marketing by the NFL that has become its own hot-stove league on steroids (hopefully not literally for any of the participants).
 
Covering the event 25 years ago, representatives of the three Chicago-area newspapers comprised one of the two largest media contingents (the other being New York's) going about the business of football reporting after the sport had largely moved off the sports-front with the wrap-up of the Super Bowl. No TV, no internet, and the Combine operators really didn't want media around for what was set up as a purely team-centric.
 
Now the NFL has created a media event that keeps it in news prominence at what had always been a dormant calendar nadir for pro football, with not only some 1,000 media members and outlets welcome, but also with fans able to attend events like the 225-pound bench press and 40-yard dashes, whose results were once something that reporters dug around for as news scoops.
 
But beyond the observed events, including group media interviews for the majority of athletes, individual draft stocks will be affected by vertical jumps, cone drills and such. And by interviews with individual teams, which are still private. (For now. Somehow, it's not beyond imagination that someday even those will be televised, in an NFL guise of "transparency" or something, but that's for another time.)
 
Strengths, weaknesses and the QB conundrum
 
One annual refrain are the assessments of the overall draft class, what positions are its deepest, its weakest, an evaluation that carries some weight because invitees to the Combine include underclassmen, which the Senior Bowl does not.
 
But a danger within the process is exactly that — the "weight" assigned to results, particularly the on-field ones. On-field evaluations are the best indicators, but the right on-field ones were there on playing fields and now tape, not inside Lucas Oil Stadium this week.

[RELATED - Which direction will Bears go at pick No. 3?]
 
Combine performance has affected drafts rightly and wrongly over the years.
 
ProFootballTalk.com's Mike Florio has made an excellent case for players declining that test for reasons of confidentiality. And frankly, if teams have a problem with a player declining the test, then teams and the NFL need to do a better job of keeping the results in-house, particularly given that correlations between the Wonderlic and NFL success are questionable at best.
 
But some player or players will move up or slip down on draft boards because of drill work. That may be unfortunate for the player, and for the teams.
 
QB or not QB
 
It is at this point that the Combine becomes increasingly relevant to the Bears, or at least to those trying to discern what realistic chances exist for the Bears to address their well-documented areas of need (quarterback, tight end, cornerback, safety).
 
An inherent problem at this stage is the difficulty in arriving at a right decision, particularly at the paramount position. NFL Network draft expert Mike Mayock did some checking that illustrates the issue.
 
Between 2007-14, teams selected 21 quarterbacks in the first round. Nine of them are no longer even in the league, and only a handful have achieved something close to the coveted "franchise" distinction: Matt Ryan in Atlanta, Matthew Stafford in Detroit, Carolina's Cam Newton, Andrew Luck in Indianapolis and Joe Flacco in Baltimore. Only Flacco has won a Super Bowl.
 
"It gives a pretty good feel for the 'hit' rate of franchise quarterbacks in the first round," Mayock said on Monday.
 
"My message to NFL teams is, 'you've got to keep trying, keep on swinging.'"
 
Whether the Bears take a swing at a franchise quarterback at No. 3 is still many weeks off. But Mayock didn't endorse making that swing at that point.
 
"I don't have any quarterbacks anywhere near the Top 10," Mayock said. "That doesn't mean I think there's no talent there, because I think there are four quarterbacks that have first-round talent. In my order I had for my initial Top 5, it was [DeShone] Kizer, [Deshaun] Watson, [Mitch] Trubisky, [Patrick] Mahomes. All four of them have holes in their games.
 
"I don't think any of them are ready to start Week 1."
 
More to come over the next week. Make that "weeks."