'Monday Night Football' was just awful

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'Monday Night Football' was just awful

From Comcast SportsNet
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- Darren McFadden needed one series to show he's in midseason form for Oakland following a foot injury that cut his last season short. Most of the rest of the first-team offensive players for the Raiders and Dallas Cowboys need plenty of work to get back to that level. McFadden picked up where he left off last season by gaining 38 yards on Oakland's first three plays of the exhibition season and the Raiders went on to lose to the Dallas Cowboys 3-0 on Monday night. "He was able to make some explosive gains," Raiders coach Dennis Allen said. "That's what we anticipate out of him. He's an explosive playmaker. We have to find ways to get him the ball and give him an opportunity to be explosive for us." McFadden, who missed the last nine games of 2011 with a Lisfranc injury to his right foot, opened the game with a 4-yard run, an 18-yard reception and a 16-yard run to delight of the Raiders fans. But Carson Palmer threw an interception to Gerald Sensabaugh on the next play for Oakland (tied for No. 23 in the AP Pro32) and both the Raiders and Cowboys (No. 15, AP Pro32) struggled to generate much of anything until the reserves took over in the second half. "We made some mistakes and it cost us," Dallas quarterback Tony Romo said. "There will be some good stuff to evaluate and get better. We have to get better from tonight's game and we will." Kyle Orton took Dallas 67 yards on the opening drive of the second half to set up Dan Bailey's 33-yard field goal and that proved to be the only scoring of the night. McFadden left after that first series and Palmer couldn't move the Raiders without him. Matt Leinart played the rest of a scoreless first half and completed six passes to undrafted free agent Rod Streater, but couldn't put any points on the board. Dez Bryant, whose status was in question after leaving practice early Saturday because of hamstring tightness, came up with the only big play for Dallas' first-team offense when he made a good adjustment in the air for a 24-yard gain from Romo on the first offensive drive for the Cowboys. That was the only first down in three series with Romo under center. Only two of Dallas' other 10 plays with Romo in the game went for more than 1 yard and both of those were on third-and-longs when the Cowboys couldn't convert. But the Dallas defense did the job after the fast start by McFadden. "We just had to settle down," Sensabaugh said. "Once we got settled down and everybody just kept doing their job, there weren't too many big plays coming after that. (Our) guys were able to make plays." The play was sloppy all around as Dallas twice committed penalties on punts to prolong drives for Oakland and committed another before a botched snap on a field goal try. The Raiders were unable to make the Cowboys pay for those mistakes as the first drive aided by two fourth-down penalties ended in a punt and usually reliable Sebastian Janikowski was wide right on a 47-yard field goal attempt after the third infraction. Oakland had its share of mistakes as Chimdi Chekwa let a punt roll to the goal line instead of downing it at the 1 and receiver Jacoby Ford had a rough day all around. Ford was stopped after a 4-yard return on the opening kickoff, had two passes from Palmer go through his hands, was the target on Palmer's interception and muffed a punt that rolled out of bounds to miss a chance at a return. Even the replacement officials had problems as they spotted one ball outside the hash marks only to have Romo correct them. The game also marked the first real action as a pro for Terrelle Pryor, the former Ohio State star quarterback who had no official plays as a rookie with Oakland. Pryor missed last preseason because he entered the league late through the supplemental draft and committed a false start penalty before his only play in the regular season. Pryor completed 8 of 15 passes for 50 yards, was sacked twice and was quick to leave the pocket to scramble, running six times for 21 yards. He put Oakland in position to score, but Eddy Carmona missed a 36-yard field goal wide right with 6:44 remaining. Pryor then threw an interception on fourth-and-26 in the final minute to end the game. "I thought I played bad," Pryor said. "I just could've played a lot better and I will play better. I just played bad today." NOTES: Cowboys rookie LB Kyle Wilber broke his left thumb. ... Raiders C Stefen Wisniewski left in the first quarter with a calf injury. ... Former Raiders coach Jon Gruden greeted fans in the Black Hole before announcing the game for ESPN. ... New Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie lit the torch to honor late owner Al Davis. ... There was a moment of silence before the game for former Raiders DL Ben Davidson, who died last month at age 72.

WATCH: Celtics vs. Knicks

WATCH: Celtics vs. Knicks

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Celtics-Knicks preview: Thomas scoring at record pace in fourth quarter

Celtics-Knicks preview: Thomas scoring at record pace in fourth quarter

WALTHAM, Mass. –  As the fourth quarter rolls around, you will occasionally catch Boston Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas looking down at his wrist, a gesture to remind anyone watching what time it is – Thomas time.

There are those who elevate their play in the fourth quarter of games, and then there’s Thomas who continues to smoothly navigate his way in unchartered fourth quarter scoring territory.

The Celtics begin the second half of the season Wednesday night against the New York Knicks, and there sits Thomas atop all players in the NBA when it comes to fourth-quarter scoring.

But that’s not all.

He’s not only dropping more points than any other NBA player in the most important quarter of them all, but he’s doing so at an unprecedented level of 10.1 fourth-quarter points per game.

Since NBA.com/stats began tracking fourth quarter scoring with the 1997-1998 season, no player has averaged more than 9.5 fourth-quarter points (LeBron James, 2006) in a season.

What makes Thomas’ fourth quarter heroics so impressive is that everyone in the building – fans, coaches, opponents – knows that’s when he’s looking to be most impactful for the Celtics and yet he still can’t be stopped.

Charlotte Hornets coach Steve Clifford acknowledged how tough it is to limit Thomas despite knowing he’s looking to take over games in the fourth.

“It’s hard because the blitz game is impossible because they don’t roll,” said Clifford whose Hornets were beaten 108-98 by Boston on Monday. “If you watch the teams that try to blitz them, you’re going to give up basically lay-ups. We had things in to get the ball out of his hands but the way they played and the stuff that they usually go to late, they didn’t get to. He (Thomas) made some terrific plays; he’s a terrific offensive player.”

Despite what he does in the fourth and his overall scoring average of 28.2 points which is ranked among the league’s leaders, there are still lots of doubters as to how good Thomas.

Regardless of how you view his play, he has consistently played at a level this season that places him among the game’s best players.

And at the rate he’s scoring in the fourth quarter, he’s establishing himself as one of the great closers in the game.

Consider the list of players in the past decade who led the league in points scored in the fourth quarter.

  • 2016: James Harden (7.7)
  • 2015: Russell Westbrook (7.1)
  • 2014: Kevin Durant (7.9)
  • 2013: Kevin Durant (8.4)
  • 2012: Kevin Durant (7.3)
  • 2011: Amare Stoudemire (7.1)
  • 2010: LeBron James (8.0)
  • 2009: LeBron James (7.7)
  • 2008: LeBron James (9.1)
  • 2007: Dwyane Wade (8.2)

You have All-stars, All-NBA First Teamers, league MVPs as well as a few future Hall of Famers.

As good as those players were in their respective seasons, when the game mattered most – the fourth quarter – Thomas numbers (for now at least) stand head and shoulders above them all.

Celtics coach Brad Stevens gives Thomas a lot of credit for being such a consistent scorer, particularly in the fourth quarter.

But as good as Thomas is, he’s not out there getting all these baskets on his own, either.

“It says a lot about the fact that he’s got a lot of skilled guys around him that are hard to leave,” Stevens said. “When you’re playing Kelly (Olynyk) and Jonas (Jerebko) together with him, there’s a lot of space on the floor to operate. When those guys are at the four (power forward) and five (center), when you’re playing guys like Al Horford who can space the floor or Avery (Bradley) or Jae (Crowder), you know, those types of guys … at the end of the day I think that it’s a combination of a lot of things.”

And for opponents, a lot of problems.

“He’s been playing well,” Hornets guard Kemba Walker said of Thomas. “He’s been playing better than anyone in our league. He’s playing with great confidence and making the plays for his team to win games. He’s been great.”