Evans finding rebounding success with Nets

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Evans finding rebounding success with Nets

BOSTON Reggie Evans attacks the game of basketball with the kind of ferocious intensity you often find on the football field.
Growing up in a football-rich environment in Florida, Evans once had visions of gridiron grandeur.
But as a youth, Evans never had a chance because he was too heavy for his age group to play youth football.
"I was very frustrated," Evans said. "I used to have a friend, one of my home boys Nut-nut. He was bigger than me. More wide, more heavier than me. And he used to make it. And I didn't. I used to run with a garbage bag over me, try and sweat it out."
When that didn't work, Evans decided to stick to basketball.
And since then, the 6-foot-8 forward has been throwing his weight around, and is among the many reasons why the Brooklyn Nets have emerged as one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference this season.
You talk about impact players off the bench?
Evans is averaging a team-best 8.5 rebounds per game for the Nets despite playing just 18 minutes a night, the kind of production that should garner Sixth Man of the Year consideration if he can maintain that level of play throughout the season.
"He reminds me of a young Dennis Rodman," former Celtics center Shaquille O'Neal said on TNT after the Nets defeated the New York Knicks in overtime on Monday. "He gets every rebound, doesn't want to shoot and doesn't want to score."
Getting to the root of Evans' rebounding success isn't easy. That's because on so many levels, what he does can't be quantified by X's and O's.
"Nobody is going to confuse him with being a great player," said one Eastern Conference scout. "But he has one skill, rebounding, and he does as good as anyone in the league."
Actually, Evans is the league's best rebounder with his rebounds per 48 minutes rate of 22.1. The only other player with 20 or more per 48 minutes Cleveland's Anderson Varejao.
Although Evans did average a double-double in junior college as well as at Iowa, it was clear early on that his greatest impact at this level would be on the boards.
In Seattle (now Oklahoma City), Evans said this point was driven home to him by then-Sonics (now they're called the Thunder) coach Nate McMillan.
"He was telling me what he needed me to do for the team and we got scorers and stuff," Evans told CSNNE.com. "I averaged a double-double in college, but coach said, 'I just need you to do this. If you listen to me, you won't have anything to worry about.'"
McMillan pointed to the fact that despite him not being a go-to guy during his playing career or a big-time scorer, he still managed to have his jersey hung in the rafters.
"So I listened to my coach," Evans said. "He was talking to me and looking at me eye-to-eye and I felt it was real. I followed his direction and I didn't change at all."
And the Nets aren't looking for him to change, either.
He provides them with the kind of physical play and muscle that when you look at teams with deep playoff run aspirations, most if not all possess a player or two with that skill.
"Reggie's a big part of what we're trying to do here," Nets guard Jerry Stackhouse told CSNNE.com recently. "For us to have the kind of success I know we're capable of, it's going to take all of us."

Kraft, Pats still bitter: NFL 'really messed this up badly'

Kraft, Pats still bitter: NFL 'really messed this up badly'

It's been almost two years exactly since the Deflategate saga began during the AFC title game between the Colts and Patriots on Jan. 18, 2015.

Since then, Robert Kraft has expressed his displeasure at how the whole thing was handled by the league -- particularly as it relates to the treatment of quarterback Tom Brady -- on multiple occasions. And according to a story in the New York Times, that feeling hasn't subsided.

"Sometimes, the league really messes up, and I think they really messed this up badly," said Kraft . "But we’ve all agreed to subjugate our right to disrupt everything.

"I mean, we can, but we’re a partnership. There’s jealousy, there’s envy, there’s stupidity. Sometimes, life is unfair, and you have to suck it up and move on and not use it as an excuse."

Brady served his four-game suspension to start this season, and Kraft opted to accept the league's punishment for the team following the 2014 season: They were docked two draft picks (a first and a fourth) and fined $1 million.

The piece includes Kraft's thoughts on President-elect Donald Trump ("Loyalty is important to me, and he has been a wonderful friend," Kraft said), as well as comments from others on how Kraft has handled his situation ("I think Bob has exhibited disagreement, but he’s also very capable of making and influencing change," Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said). 

You can read the full piece here.

Bell excused from Steelers practice for 'personal reasons'

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Bell excused from Steelers practice for 'personal reasons'

FOXBORO -- The Patriots have had perfect attendance at each of their last two practices. The Steelers, on the other hand, have been working with less than a full deck.

All-Pro running back Le'Veon Bell has been conspiculously absent from Pittsburgh's practices each of the last two days. On Wednesday, he was listed on the injury report as a non-participant due to non-injury related reasons. On Thursday, coach Mike Tomlin announced that Bell had been excused from practice due to "personal reasons."

Tomlin added that Bell will be ready to go against the Patriots on Sunday so it seems as though the team is painting this as a nothing-to-see-here situation. And it probably is. Whether or not Bell practices at all this week won't necessarily have any bearing on the AFC title game; if he's healthy, he'll be a factor. 

If for some reason he doesn't follow up his 170-yard performance against the Chiefs with another strong game, however, people will wonder how his preparation was impacted by missing out on the first two of his team's on-the-field sessions this week.