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Nuggets swat Suns to seize resounding opening-night victory

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Nuggets swat Suns to seize resounding opening-night victory

PHOENIX – Aaron Gordon soared like gravity was optional, and the Nuggets did something they failed to do last postseason.

On opening night, in front of a rowdy Phoenix crowd, the Nuggets swatted the Suns. Denver’s 110-98 win erased some of the pain of last year’s 4-0 sweep, and set the tone for a season filled with expectations.

When Gordon erased Devin Booker’s layup attempt with 3:49 left in the fourth quarter, Denver’s bench authored an all-time reaction. As the ball flew well over their heads, the Nuggets’ bench mob put their hands to their faces to see how far it had traveled.

Nikola Jokic, Michael Porter Jr. and Gordon did everything they could to exorcise last season’s demons. Jokic paced the team with 27 points and 13 rebounds, while Porter added 15 points and six rebounds. His five assists tied a career-high. Will Barton looked spry, offering 20 points, six rebounds and five assists of his own.

It was an all-encompassing win and one that silenced what should’ve been an electric crowd. The Nuggets’ home opener comes Friday against San Antonio.

The Nuggets left behind whatever plagued them in the first half. Behind a torrent of 3-pointers, including three from Monte Morris, the Nuggets bolted out to a 23-7 run to stretch their lead to nine with 4:36 left in the third. Their defense was crisp, while their offense played unselfishly.

There was no better example than Porter, whose patience and vision was apparent following his offseason work. Porter found Gordon for a rim-rattling reverse dunk, then came down several possessions later and buried a poised 3-pointer from the top of the arc. The second unit survived with help from both Porter and Barton, who were staggered to add pop to the reserve lineup.

The ploy worked, with the Nuggets up 85-82 entering the fourth.

After what happened in last year’s second round, Nuggets coach Michael Malone didn’t need a graduate degree to analyze what his defense was up against.

“Once we’re back (on defense), it’s pick-and-roll,” Malone said before the game. “We all understand, you go back to last season watching them in their pick-and-roll. Chris Paul is arguably the greatest point guard of all time.”

After giving Booker his due, Malone settled on the surplus of shooters that most concerned him.

“The Mikal Bridges, Jae Crowders, DeAndre Aytons, guys off the bench like Cam Payne, Cam Johnson,” Malone said. “They have a ton of shooting. … What no one talks about in the playoff series was, without Jamal, we had a hard time scoring against them. … That put so much pressure on our defense every time down.”

Not even a late 8-0 run to close the second quarter could mask how ugly stretches of the first half had gone for Denver. Turnovers, fouls and disjointed possessions left the Nuggets looking at a 58-51 deficit at the break. On at least one possession, Malone opted not to even watch the ensuing fastbreak, turning his back on the play. The Suns hung 38 in the quarter alone.

The contrast between Phoenix’s free-flowing, pass-happy offense and Denver’s isolation offense was stark. Eleven first-half turnovers, including three each from Jokic and Gordon, stunted momentum after a quality first quarter.

Jokic paced the Nuggets with 15 first-half points, followed by 11 from Barton. After the starters authored a promising first quarter, Denver’s second unit struggled mightily to string any points together.

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Ravens’ Week 15 game vs. Packers pushed back to late-afternoon kickoff

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Ravens’ Week 15 game vs. Packers pushed back to late-afternoon kickoff

The Ravens’ Week 15 home game against the Green Bay Packers has been pushed back to a 4:25 p.m. kickoff, the NFL announced Tuesday. Fox’s telecast of the game had been scheduled to start at 1 p.m. on Dec. 19.

The NFL uses “flexible scheduling” in Weeks 11-18, meaning that, after consultation with its broadcast partners, it can move games into prime-time or late-afternoon slots. The announcements are made no later than 12 days before the game.

The Ravens are 3-0 against NFC North teams this season, edging the Detroit Lions, Minnesota Vikings and Chicago Bears, but Green Bay should be the division’s stiffest test. The 9-3 Packers, led by reigning NFL Most Valuable Player Aaron Rodgers, have the NFC’s second-best record. On Sunday, they knocked off the Los Angeles Rams, 36-28, in Green Bay.

The Ravens’ Week 15 game will be second of three late-afternoon kickoffs in a five-week span. On Sunday and in Week 17, they face the Pittsburgh Steelers and Los Angeles Rams at 4:25 p.m.

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Denver’s homelessness response includes permanent cleanup zone in Five Points, safe outdoor space in Clayton

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Denver’s homelessness response includes permanent cleanup zone in Five Points, safe outdoor space in Clayton

The city of Denver has quietly stepped up its efforts to prevent encampments of homeless people from forming in one downtown neighborhood while also working to provide city land for a sanctioned camping site a few miles away.

City crews are now clearing unhoused people and their belongings from sidewalks and other public rights of way at least three times a week in a roughly 10-block area in the Five Points neighborhood, officials said.

“Permanent, regular cleanups are needed in this area to consistently promote the health and safety of everyone in the area, including those experiencing homelessness … ” Nancy Kuhn, spokeswoman for the city’s Department of Transportation and Infrastructure, said in an emailed statement.

The area identified by officials in late September is bounded by Broadway, Park Avenue, Welton and 20th streets. It’s dotted with signs that mark it a permanent zone for what opponents to the camping ban refer to as sweeps. The permanent cleanup zone was first reported by Westword.

Kuhn said the cleanup actions make the sidewalk accessible so people don’t have to walk in the street and help to mitigate public health risks created by trash, decomposing food, discarded needles, human waste and flammable materials such as propane and gasoline.

RJ Sangosti, The Denver Post

The city of Denver has posted signs marking a new permanent no-camping zone in a portion of Five Points in Denver on Nov. 22, 2021.

Unlike in most encampments cleanups, the city does not provide notice to people camping in the area seven days in advance. The notice rule was established by a federal injunction earlier this year.

“It’s an attempted end-run around the requirements of the preliminary injunction,” Andy McNulty, the attorney who filed the federal lawsuit against the city’s camping ban, said last week. “They are putting up a zone that essentially says you can’t exist here if you’re an unhoused person.”

McNulty and Assistant City Attorney Conor Farley delivered arguments in a hearing with a panel of judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit last week about the merits of the preliminary injunction. The city’s goal was to have the restrictions on its camping ban enforcement powers lifted.

Farley noted in his comments there is a process through which the city can speed up enforcement actions to a 48-hour timetable if an emergency public health risk exists in an encampment but said that is still not soon enough. He also acknowledged the public record is thin on examples of public health emergencies that require a speedier response.

A representative for the City Attorney’s Office declined to comment on the arguments which are still being considered by the judges on the panel. McNulty said the hearing was a demonstration that the city has been disingenuous about its motives for clearing encampments.

“They just want the power to do whatever they want whenever they want with no consequences and they are not happy that someone is actually holding them accountable for once,” he said.

The permanent cleanup area the city marked out in September is the second of its kind, Kuhn said. Another area, roughly outlined by Larimer, Arapahoe, 22nd and 24th streets, is also subject to regular enforcement, she said.

In her emailed statement, Kuhn encouraged people who are homeless to embrace the city services available to them rather than stay on the streets.

“Our shelters have capacity; they are open 24/7, many do not require sobriety, they are safe and clean, and provide essential services to exit homelessness, including case management and rehousing,” she wrote.

Kuhn emailed The Denver Post her statement before a Denver Rescue Mission employee was fatally stabbed at the organization’s shelter for men at 4600 E. 48th Ave. Saturday night.

The potential for violent episodes is just one thing that can keep unhoused people from using the city’s shelter network. Cathy Alderman, chief public policy officer for the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless, noted that sleeping in a large, open room with other people is not ideal for everyone and the environment can be triggering for people struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder.

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Tiger Woods has little to offer on past accident or future in golf

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Tiger Woods has little to offer on past accident or future in golf

NASSAU, Bahamas — Tiger Woods had nothing to say about the February car crash that shattered his right leg and even less of an idea what his future in golf holds for him except that he’s a long way from deciding whether he can compete against the best.

“I can show up here and I can host an event, I can play a par-3 course, I can hit a few shots, I can chip and putt,” he said Tuesday. “But we’re talking about going out there and playing against the world’s best on the most difficult golf courses under the most difficult conditions.

“I’m so far from that.”

Woods addressed the media for the first time since his Feb. 23 crash on a winding road in the Los Angeles coastal suburbs. Police said he was driving at least 84 mph when he crossed a median and his SUV tumbled down a hill.

Asked his recollection of the accident, Woods said curtly, “All those answers have been answered in the investigation, so you can read about all that there in the police report.” When asked if he had any flashbacks to the trauma, he replied: “I don’t, no. Very lucky in that way.”

He also felt lucky to be alive and to still have his right leg, and to be able to walk into the press center at Albany Golf Club without a noticeable limp.

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