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Nuggets Mailbag: Will Bones Hyland get playing time his rookie season?



Nuggets Mailbag: Will Bones Hyland get playing time his rookie season?

Beat writer Mike Singer opens up the Nuggets Mailbag periodically during the offseason. Pose a Nuggets — or NBA — related question here.

Who do you foresee starting the season in a G League uniform? And who from that group is most likely to move from the Gold back to the Nuggets later in the season?

— Jeff Swearingen, Denver (now living near Chicago)

Good question, Jeff. I should’ve cozied up to Jason Terry (the new Nuggets G League coach) who was at training camp in San Diego and playing full-court pickup after practices against team staffers. Not that you asked, but Jet can still play.

The two most likely candidates to begin the season in the G League, in my opinion, are Markus Howard and Petr Cornelie. If Howard goes down there, I expect him to light up the G League. The reality for Howard is that Denver’s backcourt is loaded, and Bones Hyland may already be ahead of him on the depth chart. There’s only so much need for smaller guards and Monte Morris and Facu Campazzo have that covered. That being said, teammates and coaches like Howard a lot. I’d expect him to bounce between the two.

Cornelie, Denver’s other two-way, has no NBA experience. He’s a tall stretch four or five, who turned a corner in the last few seasons playing overseas in France.

The big question is Bol Bol, who has built some momentum for himself with a strong training camp. On one hand, the Nuggets may want to reward him for his efforts and keep him around the team. On the other, he’s still raw. If Bol was sent to the G League, I think there’s a lot of curiosity over how he’d react. For now, I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt.

The biggest story, sadly, is Michael Porter Jr. not getting vaccinated. How is this going to carry over with his best season projected?

—  @Seansky17 via Twitter

Michael Porter Jr. made his stance clear in that he’s not comfortable taking the vaccine. Given that he’s had COVID twice, his logic was that he knows how his body handled it and doesn’t know how it’d react to the vaccine. The unspoken part, of course, is that it’s impossible to know how he’d react to the new Delta variant.

While it’s a personal choice, the other unspoken aspect is that said personal choice can have a big impact on the rest of the team. If Porter tests positive again, or even if he’s had a close exposure, he’ll need to quarantine because he’s unvaccinated. A close exposure for a vaccinated player doesn’t mandate a quarantine. So, while I believe each player is entitled to their choice, each unvaccinated player needs to reconcile the personal vs. team impact. What’s Denver’s margin for error until Jamal Murray returns and can it withstand missing games from MPJ? The NBA has implemented rigorous testing and different protocols for unvaccinated players, which could, ostensibly, change a player’s mind.

How is Zeke Nnaji looking? Which players look the most comfortable?

— @bradsgood via Twitter

I think there have been encouraging signs from a handful of players, beginning with Aaron Gordon and P.J. Dozier. In my opinion, Gordon’s shooting stroke looks smoother and he appears to be launching with more confidence. That squares with what I’d been hearing on Gordon’s summer.

I also think Dozier has had a strong preseason. Defensively, he’s long, anticipates well and gets into the gaps. He seems to have a strong concept of team defense. Offensively, he’s a good cutter and has shown an improved pull-up game. The swing skill with Dozier is his 3-point shooting. If he can consistently knock down open 3s, he’ll be even more invaluable to Michael Malone’s rotation.

Both Jeff Green and JaMychal Green warrant a nod here, too. I think that pairing is going to be more productive than the Green-Millsap one last year. JaMychal looks energized and Jeff still has significant spring in his step. They’ll be the first reserve options in the frontcourt, probably ahead of Zeke Nnaji. Coming off a disappointing Summer League, Nnaji still has good fundamentals but he’s looked a bit hurried in his approach.

Should we be thinking about a PJ Dozier extension now? He’s looked great in these first 2 preseason games. If we wait until next summer and he plays like this, he’s going to get a bag. One the Nugs cannot afford.

— Jon, Golden

This is a great call, Jon. I think the Nuggets’ front office would be wise to consider extending Dozier, who’ll be a free agent next summer. Dozier has a big fan in Malone, and his value is about to rise. It somewhat reminds me of Monte Morris in that the Nuggets loved him and had no interest in seeing him in another jersey. Dozier’s value, as a versatile defender and a budding offensive threat, should be enough to land him a multi-year deal. As for that impending luxury tax bill, cover your eyes, Mr. Kroenke.

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101-year-old returns to Pearl Harbor to remember those lost



101-year-old returns to Pearl Harbor to remember those lost

HONOLULU — When Japanese bombs began falling on Pearl Harbor, U.S. Navy Seaman 1st Class David Russell first sought refuge below deck on the USS Oklahoma.

But a split-second decision on that December morning 80 years ago changed his mind, and likely saved his life.

“They started closing that hatch. And I decided to get out of there,” Russell, now 101, said in a recent interview.

Within 12 minutes his battleship would capsize under a barrage of torpedoes. Altogether, 429 sailors and Marines from the Oklahoma would perish — the greatest death toll from any ship that day other than the USS Arizona, which lost 1,177.

Russell plans to return to Pearl Harbor on Tuesday for a ceremony in remembrance of the more than 2,300 American troops killed in the Dec. 7, 1941, attack that launched the U.S. into World War II.

About 30 survivors and 100 other veterans from the war are expected to observe a moment of silence at 7:55 a.m., the minute the attack began.

Survivors, now in their late 90s or older, stayed home last year due to the coronavirus pandemic and watched a livestream of the event instead.

Russell is traveling to Hawaii with the Best Defense Foundation, a nonprofit founded by former NFL Linebacker Donnie Edwards that helps World War II veterans revisit their old battlefields.

He recalls heading topside when the attack started because he was trained to load anti-aircraft guns and figured he could help if any other loader got hurt.

But Japanese planes dropped a series of torpedoes that pummeled the Oklahoma before he could get there. Within 12 minutes, the hulking battleship capsized.

“Those darn torpedoes, they just kept hitting us and kept hitting us. I thought they’d never stop,” Russell said. “That ship was dancing around.”

Russell clambered over and around toppled lockers while the battleship slowly rolled over.

“You had to walk sort of sideways,” he said.

Once he got to the main deck, he crawled over the ship’s side and eyed the USS Maryland moored next door. He didn’t want to swim because leaked oil was burning in the water below. Jumping, he caught a rope hanging from the Maryland and escaped to that battleship without injury.

He then helped pass ammunition to the Maryland’s anti-aircraft guns.

Russell still thinks about how lucky he was. He ponders why he decided to go topside on the Oklahoma, knowing most of the men who stayed behind likely were unable to get out after the hatch closed.

Russell remained in the Navy until retiring in 1960. He worked at Air Force bases for the next two decades and retired for good in 1980.

His wife, Violet, passed away 22 years ago, and he now lives alone in Albany, Ore.

For decades, Russell didn’t share much about his experiences in World War II because no one seemed to care. But the images from Pearl Harbor still haunt him, especially at night.

“When I was in the VA hospital there in San Francisco, they said, ‘We want you to talk about World War II.’ And I said, I told them, I said, ‘When we talk about it, people don’t believe us. They just walk away.’ So now people want to know more about it so we’re trying to talk about it. We’re trying to talk about it, and we’re just telling them what we saw,” he said. “You can’t forget it.”

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Celtics Notebook: Jayson Tatum on a run



Celtics Notebook: Jayson Tatum on a run

In addition to rebounding at a career rate (10.2) over his last five games, Jayson Tatum has been finishing at the rim and getting to the free throw line with more regularity than at any point this season.

He’s averaged seven free throw attempts per game dating to a Nov. 15 game in Cleveland, when Tatum shot 7-for-7 from the line. He’s gone 30-for-31 over his last three games heading into Tuesday’s game against the Lakers.

Considering that Tatum has played some of his best basketball against the team he adored as a youngster, expect his best.

It’s all the result of attacking, and making adjustments to how the game is being called this season, with a wider margin of error for defenders.

“We’ve hit him quite a few times with not settling, making a quick decision and when he does that he can get to the basket or make plays for other guys,” said coach Ime Udoka. “He had some success quite a few games ago and saw himself getting to the free throw line. Saw he was missing shots earlier in the year that we love for him getting to the basket.

“I think he just saw the success of getting to the basket, getting to the free throw line, and how that opened everything up for himself and has carried that over,” he said. “We love the balance  and the fact that he can score in the post, pick-and-roll and iso — anywhere on the court. But we love him getting downhill and being aggressive there, and driving and kicking for his teammates for sure.”

Udoka would like to keep Tatum at his current 36.5-minute level, especially now that Jaylen Brown is a day-to-day consideration with his healing right hamstring.

“I don’t necessarily think 36 is a big thing for him,” he said. “Given that Jaylen’s been out the amount he has and we’ve had to rely on (Tatum) more, that obviously was ramped up a little bit beside the extra overtimes, the six extra periods there tacking on some minutes.

“But he’s a guy that’s coped well,” said Udoka. “He’s finding his rhythm and as I’ve mentioned, I’ve never seen a guy his age take care of himself and prepare the way he does with treatment, getting the shots he needs, in the weight room. He’s living in the gym, so he takes care of himself and it’s not a coincidence that he’s been able to play those high minutes and play at a high level.”

Especially now that Tatum is attacking the basket, with his paint attempts and kick-outs on the rise.

“He’s picking his spots, understanding what he has to do every night for other guys, as well as himself,” said Udoka. “We just say make the right play, basically, and he’s done that all year for the most part. There’s still going to be times when he goes to his natural tendency of looking to score at times, but he does it at a high level, so you can’t knock him on that or take that away. But, as I’ve stressed over and over, he’s learning on the fly what he has to do to become a more well-rounded player offensively and defensively and he picks his spots well. I’m thinking he’s making the right play for the most part and teams are going to try to take the ball out of his hands. So the more he loosens everybody else up, the easier it becomes for him in the second half of games.”

And as Tatum’s performances even out, his confidence will build.

“Stay confident. Stay consistent in his process of what he does,” said Udoka. “He doesn’t waiver from that, whether he scores 40 or has a bad shooting night. He comes in and does what he does every day like I just mentioned. So his professionalism is off the charts, especially for a guy his age, like I said. I’ve been around a long time and never seen a guy at that age and focus on taking care of himself to the extent that he does. It’s a credit to him that he’s able to play those minutes. Thirty-six isn’t a crazy high number. Like I said, we’ve had to rely on him probably more than we would have liked to early with guys being out. But he’s taken on a heavy load and stays consistent with what he does every game, every practice, every day.”

‘Being cautious’ with Brown

No Celtic benefited more from the team’s two-day stay in Los Angeles than Brown, who is once again listed as questionable as he slowly returns from a strained right hamstring. His workout intensified during Monday’s practice.

“Jaylen is listed as questionable, and will be questionable going forward,” said Udoka. “Had a good session today, ramped it up a little bit and with him we want to be patient and wait for him to get to 100 percent. Whenever that is, we’ll see how he feels tomorrow after going harder today than he has in awhile, since he played in the games, and like I said, big picture approach, being cautious with it and getting him back at 100, not 85, 90, so it doesn’t linger, and we’ll see how he feels tomorrow.”

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Patriots-Bills inactives: Kyle Dugger out, all 8 questionable Pats active in Buffalo



Patriots-Bills inactives: Kyle Dugger out, all 8 questionable Pats active in Buffalo

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — Questionable? Ha.

For the third straight week, every Patriot listed as questionable on the team’s injury report is active. Starting right tackle Trent Brown and defensive tackle Christian Barmore were among the eight supposed question marks, but both will play in windy Buffalo. Backup quarterback Jarrett Stidham, cornerback Shaun Wade and linebacker Jahlani Tavai are the Pats’ most notable inactives.

The Patriots also activated linebacker Jamie Collins off injured reserve and elevated defensive lineman Daniel Ekulale and safety Sean Davis from the practice squad.  They are without starting safety Kyle Dugger, who remains on COVID-19 reserve.

For the Bills, run-stuffing defensive tackle Star Lotulelei is active after returning from injured reserve. Wide receivers WR Marquez Stevenson and Isaiah McKenzie are both out.

Both teams’ complete inactive lists are below.


QB Jarrett Stidham

LB Ronnie Perkins

TE Devin Asiasi

OL Yasir Durant


WR Marquez Stevenson

WR Isaiah McKenzie

FB Reggie Gilliam

OL Jamil Douglas

DT Vernon Butler

DE Efe Obada

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