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Keeler: Nuggets’ Nikola Jokic did Markieff Morris dirty. Both should be suspended, but if NBA doesn’t start protecting its MVP, it’ll happen again.



Keeler: Nuggets’ Nikola Jokic did Markieff Morris dirty. Both should be suspended, but if NBA doesn’t start protecting its MVP, it’ll happen again.

Markieff Morris had it coming. Let’s get that out of the way first.

His job is to goon it up. Cross the line. Poke and prod the big fish on the court into making bigger mistakes.

But in no way did that justify — in no way does that ever justify — blindsiding a dude into Lincoln Park. In no way does it condone that level of retaliation in a public setting. This is the NBA, not the UFC. Nikola Jokic has to know better. Jokic has to be better. As Nuggets coach Michael Malone put it recently, heavy is the head that wears the crown.

That said, any blood from the sad fracas that marred the end of Monday night’s Nuggets-Heat game is on the league’s hands, too.

The Joker is tired of being the NBA’s most talented pin cushion. He’s a human being, Adam Silver. Not a tackling dummy with a cute nickname.

According to the play-by-play stats tracked at, Jokic ranks ninth among NBA centers in minutes played per game (31.8). Yet his rate in shooting fouls drawn — one every 12.23 minutes on the floor — already trails Bam Adebayo (one every 11.03 minutes), Montrezl Harrell (11.1 minutes) and Rudy Gobert (12.1 minutes).

The Sixers’ Joel Embiid is picking up a shooting foul every 8.9 minutes. The Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo, every 7.3 minutes.

If you’re curious where all that rage comes from, start there.

“I saw him, (and) I thought it was gonna be like a ‘take’ foul,” Jokic said of the shot to the ribs Morris gave him at midcourt, the jab that preceded his shove.

“And he kind of bumped me, I was like, ‘That was a little bit …’ I think it was a dirty play. And I just needed to protect myself.”

For that mess, the Joker warrants a fine and a suspension. Morris, same deal. A pox on both their houses. You want to stop this sort of garbage? Hit everybody in the wallet. Where it hurts.

Then pony up to get Miami coach Erik Spoelstra a pair of glasses.

“After I watched it on film, it was a ‘take’ foul,” he told the media late Monday night. “That’s how I saw it.”

The league office should see it differently, although don’t hold your breath. The Joker’s got a rep. And a temper. And a rep for a temper.

If you throw in the incident with Cameron Payne during Game 4 of the Western Conference semis this past summer, Jokic is considered by NBA Twitter to be a repeat offender when it comes to crossing the line.

Again, he’s got to know better there.

He’s also got to know that more of this bunkum is coming.

Teams are going to follow Morris’ lead. They’re going to look to exploit that temper.

“I’m not supposed to react that way, first of all. To get thrown out of the game … I can’t help my team win the game,” Jokic lamented late Monday. “Which is the most important thing.”

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WATCH: Tyrei Randall hits three-quarter-court OT buzzer beater to lift Metro State men’s basketball over Colorado Mesa



WATCH: Tyrei Randall hits three-quarter-court OT buzzer beater to lift Metro State men’s basketball over Colorado Mesa

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Lucas: Healey should give Biden a hand, he could use it



Lucas: By bowing out, Charlie Baker leaves door wide open for Maura Healey

Democrat gubernatorial candidate-in-waiting Maura Healey ought to invite President Biden to her announcement ceremony.

After getting stiffed in Georgia by Stacey Abrams, who is also running for governor, Biden could use a hug.

The Stacey diss came when the Georgia Democrat, once on Biden’s short list of vice-presidential candidates, declined to attend Biden’s speech in Atlanta last week.

It would do Healey a lot of good among Democrats, liberals and progressives to host Biden. It would show that while Biden is down and out in the polls, he still has his base of support in Massachusetts

A warm Boston reception would stand in stark contrast to the cold shoulder many Democrats, including Abrams — once a strong supporter — gave Biden in Atlanta.

Once there Biden delivered a weird speech on voting rights, comparing opponents of the Democrat-sponsored voting rights bill to racists.

Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said the speech was not only “profoundly unpresidential, but it also “was incoherent, incorrect and beneath his office.”

Abrams claimed her absence was due to a scheduling conflict. Biden went along with the excuse. And nobody believed either one of them. You drop your schedule when the president of the United States says he is coming.

More realistically Abrams did not want to appear on the same platform as Biden, who has fallen so deep into a hole that it would take a cave rescue team to find him.

So, forget the Bulldogs, go Minutemen.

Although Attorney General Healey has not officially announced her candidacy for the Democrat nomination for governor, she will automatically become the favorite once she does.

She is a progressive who is far better known than her two opponents, has a two-term record as attorney general, has raised a ton of money and could become the first woman and openly gay governor elected in Massachusetts.

Currently the other two Democrats running are state Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz of Boston and Harvard professor Danielle Allen.

With Healey in the race, it is likely that they would eventually drop out of the race the way former state Sen. Ben Dowling of Pittsfield did. Dowling, the first to get in the race, was the first to drop out.

So, Healey has nothing to lose and a lot to gain by inviting Biden to come to Massachusetts. She is a well-established Trump antagonist, having filed some 50 lawsuits against Trump when he was president. Most went nowhere but they helped weaken Trump, which was the point.

And despite his train wreck of an administration, Biden still has three years left on his term, so it makes good sense for a governor to be on good terms with him.

As all but crowned as the Democrat nominee, Healey would face conservative Republican Geoff Diehl, a Trump supporter, in the November election, which could make for an interesting race.

Healey, a good progressive Democrat, is a solid Biden supporter who is already campaigning against Trump.

No sooner did Biden give his speech in Atlanta, than Healey was out with a statement praising Biden and echoing what he said, even the parts that were untrue.

“Did you hear President Biden’s speech in Atlanta today?” Healey asked in a fundraising email to potential campaign donors. “He traveled to the cradle of the civil rights movement to outline the urgent need to protect our constitutional right to vote and the integrity of our elections.

“There’s no question that our democracy is under threat. One year ago, armed insurrectionists launched a deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol,” she said.

“The former president and his cronies are still spreading lies about the integrity of our elections and initiating sham audits.

“Republican legislatures across the country are passing dangerous restrictions on the right to vote that disproportionately target black, Latino and Indigenous people,” she said.

“One of my top priorities this year is advocating for voting reform. We need legislative action to prevent election sabotage and protect the freedom to vote” as “a first step toward healing our democracy.”

Joe Biden could not have said it any better.

Healey, as the new leader of the Democrat Party in the state, may not be able to heal our democracy, but she sure could help heal old Joe.

And unlike Abrams and Georgia, Healey could welcome Biden and give the sad and confused old guy a much-needed hug.

Peter Lucas is a veteran Massachusetts political reporter and columnist.

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Catholic Memorial, Xaverian boys battle to 1-1 tie



Catholic Memorial, Xaverian boys battle to 1-1 tie

CANTON — By now, every hockey player, coach, parent and Zamboni driver in Massachusetts is well aware of the fact there will not be a Super Eight tournament this season.

So, as a way to recreate a similar atmosphere, the Catholic Conference and its member schools decided to get a little creative, and host a “Showcase,” with three games taking place back-to-back in the same facility.

Based on how things shook out at the Canton Ice House Sunday, it looks like they made the right choice. In the opening showdown of the afternoon, which also featured some late-game controversy, Catholic Memorial ended up skating to a heart-stopping 1-1 draw with rival Xaverian.

“(It was) really fun,” said Xaverian coach David Spinale. “Lot of energy in the building. Chris Kuchar from Malden, it was his idea. We all supported it, and we just said: ‘Let’s find a location, where we could do kind of a game to game to game (structure),’ like this.”

Despite the frigid temperatures, hundreds of fans made their way to Norfolk County to take part in the events, and they were treated to a defensive stalemate in the first game.

Both Catholic Memorial (6-1-1) and Xaverian (7-1-1) struggled to get anything going offensively for the entirety of the opening period, with quality chances coming few and far between.

This held true until the latter stages of the second stanza, when Finn Burke found himself in possession of the puck behind the Xaverian net. As he scanned the ice for a teammate, the defenseman spotted Connor Fryberger skating alone in the slot, and fed a pass his way.

Fryberger proceeded to slap a shot into the lower corner of the cage, giving Catholic Memorial a 1-0 edge with 5:38 to play in the period.

Desperately needing an equalizer later on in the third, Xaverian drew even behind the efforts of junior right winger Joe DiMartino, who registered his fourth goal of the season with 8:43 remaining in regulation.

Although Catholic Memorial was whistled for a critical tripping penalty with 2:49 left, Xaverian was unable to capitalize on the man-advantage as the Knights forced overtime.

Neither program managed to strike in the extra session, at least, not until there were about 6.5 seconds remaining, when Nick D’Olympio started one final 2-on-1 rush. The Rockland native fired a shot off the pad of Xaverian goaltender Brendan Flanagan. The puck then bounced over to Fryberger, who tipped it home for what appeared to be a game-winning goal. However, the referees waved the play off, saying it came after time had expired.

“It hit off (the goaltender’s) pad, and I batted it out of the air,” said Fryberger. “It could’ve been a buzzer-beater, but it was too late… I thought I had it in time, adrenaline pumping. I don’t know.”

Braden O’Hara and Max Lockwood were credited with assists for Xaverian.

“I couldn’t really tell,” Spinale said when asked about the final sequence. “I thought I heard the buzzer, then it went in. But again, I’m biased.”

On a day where the Knights were missing multiple key players, Tyler Hamilton stood out for Catholic Memorial, as he notched an assist.

“We showed up today with guys that play hockey and we played hockey,” Catholic Memorial coach Larry Rooney said. “We played a good game of hockey, and I’m proud of the guys.”

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