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Celtics reserves fall late in 103-102 exhibition loss to Orlando

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Celtics reserves fall late in 103-102 exhibition loss to Orlando

With most regulars on the bench or at home for a combination of rest and COVID-19 reasons, Ime Udoka gave his reserves — and deep bench — the greatest opportunity of the exhibition season Wednesday night in Orlando.

Though Payton Pritchard was a first-half casualty because of a nose injury, fellow summer league stars Aaron Nesmith (23 points, 8-for-16, four 3s) and Romeo Langford (12 points) led the Celtics prior to a late slide by the reserves in a 103-102 loss to the Magic.

Udoka later said that Pritchard is being examined for a “likely broken nose,” and will fly back to Boston instead of joining the Celtics for Friday’s exhibition finale in Miami. Orlando’s Jeff Dowtin won the game off a mid-range jumper with 0.2 seconds left. The Celtics are now 2-1 in the exhibition season.

Of those on the deep bench looking for a chance, Jabari Parker (10 points, 2-for-3 from 3) provided a particularly hot spark. Theo Pinson closed strong with an 11-point, 4-for-7, three-assist performance.

Udoka envisions his rotation going from 10 to 12 players deep, and admits that the battle for those deep spots has been intense.

“It’s been great since Day 1 of camp,” the Celtics coach said of the competition. “Tonight maybe you see them in a different role than the first or second game when they were playing with a lot of starting guys out there. We went a little bit deeper tonight with the guys resting and out, and saw some good things. Good to see Romeo, Aaron, Payton when he played in a different role. Things happen during the season, we see them playing those minutes and how we can use them if need be.”

Horford questionable for season opener

So much for a regular dress rehearsal.

With Al Horford joining Jaylen Brown in quarantine after testing positive for COVID-19 this week, the exhibition season is over for both Celtics. They missed Wednesday night’s exhibition game in Orlando, will also miss the practice finale in Miami on Friday, and there’s no guarantee about the Oct. 20 season opener in New York.

Though he expressed confidence that Brown will be ready for the Knicks, Udoka isn’t so sure that Horford will emerge on time from his minimum of 10 days in isolation.

“Obviously, it’s a 10-day timeline off the top and then it’s going to be close based on the amount of days it’s been since he tested positive,” said the Celtics coach. “And then from there, you’ve got to have your two (negative) results, a similar situation that I went through before training camp. Timeline-wise, it’s going to be very close. We’ll see what happens with that, but we should definitely have Jaylen back by then.

“Al’s doing OK. Obviously, nobody wants to be in this situation, so there’s no real positive about it. But health-wise overall, he’s doing okay,” he said. “As far as the time when we find out is when it was reported, so it was right before we left on the trip, a day or so before. Talked about it the next day, obviously, it came out with the media. But we found out the prior day he wasn’t coming down to Orlando.”

Developing the bench

Though the team’s COVID situation may have boosted the prospect of Wednesday night’s lineup against Orlando — Jayson Tatum, Marcus Smart, Dennis Schroder with a knee contusion and Josh Richardson were all given the night off — Udoka said he had planned to give his major players a break.

As a result, the Celtics once again put their super summer team on the floor with Pritchard, Nesmith, Langford, Robert Williams and Grant Williams on the floor. All have logged significant preseason time.

Said dress rehearsal, obviously minus Brown and Horford, will take place in Miami.

“This was the game I targeted to rest guys,” said Udoka. “Obviously with those two starting guys, key pieces missing, it felt right to rest the rest of our veterans as well. But I did target a specific game and this would have probably been it regardless. As far as them staying involved, coaches are still talking to them. Obviously, we’re taking this slow with what we’re implementing with those guys gone. They have access to the practices and obviously, we can get them game film.”

Minutes available

The Orlando game was expected to be the perfect stage for some of those who haven’t played as much, like Enes Kanter, Bruno Fernando, Juancho Hernangomez and Parker, to get more minutes.

“We’ve talked about it quite a bit lately. Tonight is a unique situation obviously with the guys we have missing,” said Udoka. “We do need some extra bodies and guys will get opportunities tonight, especially with sitting Josh, Dennis, and some of the veterans. We needed the bodies with Al and Jaylen going down, in general, practice and game-wise. We may keep guys a little bit longer because of that. But we also have a surplus of guys that can come off the bench. And the young guys, as I mentioned before, really get an opportunity. So we want to see them in extended minutes but we also have that second and third team ready to go.”

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Hawaii’s mountains brace for a blizzard while Colorado continues in a snow drought

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Hawaii’s mountains brace for a blizzard while Colorado continues in a snow drought

Hawaii sits 20 degrees of latitude south of where Colorado sits, has mostly a tropical climate and is surrounded by ocean, yet, portions of the island chain are bracing for blizzard conditions. While Colorado is no stranger to blizzard conditions, this season all types of frozen precipitation have been quite rare.

It is fairly common for the highest elevations (above 11,000 feet) in Hawaii to receive snow, which means the peaks of Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea are often the most likely places to see it occur. A Kona low is what is drawing in a lot of moisture from the south while a cold front sweeps through bringing the chill needed atop the biggest mountains. Of course, not all of Hawaii is going to see snow. The lower elevations are bracing for several inches of rain and mudslides in the coming days.

The weather in Hawaii right now is pretty active. There are flood watches, high surf warnings, high wind warnings and blizzard warnings in effect across the archipelago chain.  This weekend in paradise is likely to be a bit of a washout for the folks who live or are vacationing there. Up to 8 inches of rain may fall on the Big Island this weekend, while up to a foot of snow impacts the highest peaks. Winds will gust up to 100 mph at times on the mountaintops while lower elevations brace for 40-60 mph winds. On top of this, the coastal areas of the Big Island are expecting 20- to 30-foot waves this weekend as a result of this Kona low.

This is the weather, minus the big surf, that we so desperately need here in Colorado. Rain or snow is severely lacking and temperatures are drying things out even faster thanks to how anomalously warm they have been. Some places across Colorado just hit their hottest temperature ever recorded in December.

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Grading the Week: Time for Jim McElwain to come home again to Colorado State?

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Grading the Week: Time for Jim McElwain to come home again to Colorado State?

Maybe it’s just the two years of Steve Addazio talking here, but Jim McElwain is starting to look pretty good right now.

If the past seven seasons of CSU Rams football have taught us anything, it’s that athletic director Joe Parker could do worse with his next football coaching hire. A lot worse.

Steve Addazio — F

It’s hard to truly put into words how much of a disaster the Addazio Era was for Colorado State.

On a scale of “Nick Saban at Alabama” to “Mike Price at Alabama,” the Grading the Week staff would rate the Daz’s tenure a solid “Les Miles at Kansas.”

There were losses. There were off-the-field allegations. And, yes, we could see the train wreck coming from the moment it left the station. But at least the Daz actually coached a few games at CSU — something Price never got to do after being hired and fired within a few months by the Tide in 2003.

Now, here we are back at the same spot we were two years ago, when Urban Meyer sightings in FoCo were seen as a reason for hope, rather than the impending doom they actually foretold.

The first thing we’d do if we were Parker: Take Meyer’s business card out of the rolodex and light it on fire.

The second: Flip to our old friend Jim and see if maybe, just maybe, he’s interested in getting the band back together at Fort Fun.

Crazy as that sounds, consider this: As poorly as things ended at the conclusion of McElwain’s three years with the Rams, at least the university received $7 million to watch him shuffle off to Florida.

That’s a heck of a lot better than paying Mike Bobo ($1.825 million) and the Daz ($3 million) to go away.

It’s not like we didn’t have a lot of fun while McElwain was stalking the sidelines in green and gold. The Rams went 22-16 in his three years at CSU, culminating with a 10-2 regular season in 2014 that stands as the most successful in the 14 seasons since legendary coach Sonny Lubick was unceremoniously relieved of his duties.

After getting let go by Florida midway through the 2017 season, McElwain’s also comported himself quite well at Central Michigan, going 19-13 with a pair of eight-win campaigns.

There’s even recent precedent to point to in the Mountain West.

Brady Hoke bolted San Diego State for Michigan, got fired from multiple jobs, then returned to the Aztecs and led them an 11-1 season and a spot in this weekend’s conference title game.

Jeff Tedford left Fresno State, where he was an assistant for six years, for greener Pac-12 pastures, only to come back in 2017 as head coach and lead the Bulldogs to back-to-back double-digit-win seasons.

There’s no reason McElwain can’t do the same thing at CSU.

(OK, so maybe there are a few.)

Karl Dorrell — D-

Those calling for Darrin Chiaverini’s head finally got their wish earlier this week.

It’s hard to argue with the CU Buffs head coach’s decision to part ways with the embattled offensive coordinator after the team’s more-dreadful-than-it-sounds 4-8 season.

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Kickin’ It with Kiz: Life lesson college football coaches teach players? Always look out for No. 1.

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Kickin’ It with Kiz: Life lesson college football coaches teach players? Always look out for No. 1.

College football coaches just dump kids and their programs like snake-oil salesmen running out of town.

Fred, independent thinker

Kiz: There will be no tears shed here for Oklahoma losing coach Lincoln Riley to USC or Brian Kelly abandoning Notre Dame for Louisiana State. Can’t blame them for chasing the dream and the green. Ain’t that America? But maybe we should dispense with the balderdash about football coaches being employed to teach life lessons to players, unless the lesson is: Always look out for No. 1. In the case of Kelly, his interest in molding the minds of young men is as phony as the hilariously bad southern accent he adopted when introducing himself to LSU fans at a basketball game in Baton Rouge.

Any rational person marked this game in Kanas City as a loss for the Broncos as soon as the NFL schedule was released. I sincerely hope I’m wrong, but it’s fanciful to think Denver’s path to the playoffs goes through K.C. Now, when the Chiefs come to Denver at the end of the season … maybe.

Mr. U, tough cowboy

Kiz: While the Broncos will be 9.5-point underdogs on “Sunday Night Football,” the best reason to believe they have a shot to beat Kansas City? Quarterback Patrick Mahomes can still wing it, but he has lost his Midas touch. K.C. has scored more than 20 points only once in its last five games. Fearless prediction: Although the losing streak will reach 12, the Broncos will end their misery against the Chiefs on the final weekend on the regular season, and that victory just might be enough to earn Denver a playoff berth.

This is why Michael Porter Jr fell to the Nuggets in the NBA draft. There were so many warning signs, and bad backs don’t go away.

Brad, easy rider

Kiz: As the 24-year-old forward recovers from the third surgery on his back, we wish him well. But if MPJ is ever again the player that got Nuggets Nation dreaming about finally bringing the Larry O’Brien Trophy home to this dusty old cowtown, it will be a minor medical miracle.

Major League Baseball wants us to think it cares about the competitiveness and quality of the sport, then puts Rockies owner Dick Monfort as one of the lead negotiators for the owners in their labor dispute with players. Makes sense to me!

Andrew, wee bit sarcastic

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