Newest Nugget McGee excited to contend


Newest Nugget McGee excited to contend

DENVER JaVale McGee, now with the Denver Nuggets, has a lot of catching up to do.

But that won't be the biggest adjustment he'll have to make.

Denver's up-and-down play suits McGee's game perfectly.

However, playing for a team with deep playoff aspirations is a major shift from his time with the Washington Wizards, who shipped him to the Mile High City just before the trading deadline.

All the physicals for the trade have yet to be completed, which is why McGee will not play tonight against the Boston Celtics.

But he's in the building, eager to hit the floor and prove his worth to his new teammates and coaching staff whose mindset is much different than the Wizards who are once again bound for the NBA lottery.

"It's definitely an adjustment coming from a non-playoff team to a playoff team," McGee told in front his new locker stall. "I'm definitely ready to change my mindset and get into more of a dedicated and playoff mindset."

Nene, the central figure that the Nuggets sent to Washington for McGee, will be missed by his Denver teammates, obviously.

But even they acknowledge that McGee's game is actually a better fit for their style of play which generates an NBA-high 103.8 points per game.

"He's going to really help us," said Nuggets guard Arron Afflalo. "His ability to block shots, and get up and down the court. That's how coach (George) Karl has us play. Hopefully that works out for us."

A big part of whether the McGee experiment works, will depend on whether he can ratchet up his focus, an absolute must for any team looking to make a strong playoff run.

"Teaching basketball is also teaching how to win," Karl said. "Mental toughness is just as important as physical toughness. It'll be interesting."

C's coach Doc Rivers has always been a fan of McGee's potential. And now that he's in a system that should play to his strengths, River believes McGee could develop into one of the NBA's elite players.

"He (McGee) has a chance to be a disruptive force defensively," Rivers said. "I mean, Dwight Howard-ish. Maybe the change of scenery, that will help him."

Brady comes off the bench to throw TD in his preseason debut


Brady comes off the bench to throw TD in his preseason debut

CHARLOTTE, N.C. - There will be a moment in the days between September 3 and October 3 when Tom Brady stops what he’s doing, sets his jaw and mutters, “*$%^## Derby…”

During his first – and perhaps only action of the 2016 preseason – Brady had some very good plays, was let down by a few drops (like Derby’s on a third-down toss) and had a near pick on a downfield throw to Martellus Bennett.

Brady was in for four possessions, entering the game after Jimmy Garoppolo ran the team on the Patriots first three series.

Brady missed the first preseason game then plunged trainer’s scissors into his thumb just prior to the second preseason game and missed that one as well.

With a fair amount of buildup to this game, Brady’s first pass was a deep in-cut to Aaron Dobson that went for 37 yards after Dobson stepped out of a tackle.

That was followed by a crossing pattern drop by Julian Edelman and a high throw to the end zone on third-and-5 that doinked off the left hand of tight end Bennett under the goalpost. Seemed like a mistimed jump on the high throw over the hands of a couple defenders.

On Brady’s next series, a pair of Tyler Gaffney runs gained 20 before Brady dropped a fade in to the hands of Chris Hogan for a 32-yard touchdown. It couldn’t have been placed any better if Brady had been allowed to walk to Hogan and hand it to him.

Brady’s conversion pass to Dobson was incomplete.

The Patriots got another chunk play from LeGarrette Blount to start their next drive and Brady then hit Edelman for 6. But his throw to the left sideline on third-and-4 was bungled by Derby, ending the drive.

Brady’s final series was bleak. His first throw was batted down by Kawann Short. His second one, a deep throw across the field to Bennett after Brady stepped up in the pocket, should have been picked by Kurt Coleman. Brady was sacked on third down.

Garoppolo came in for the final two series of the first half and started the third quarter.

Brady spent much of the first quarter apart from the offense when it was on the sidelines, standing with arms folded. When the offense was on the field, Brady mostly sat by himself on the bench. There wasn’t any significant interaction between he and Garoppolo, who huddled with offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels after his series’ ended. Brady did the same after he came off the field with Garoppolo hovering nearby.

Brady finished 3-for-9 for 76 yards and a touchdown. As a team, the Patriots were 0-for-7 on third down in the first half. 

First half Patriots observations: Brady and Long up, Garoppolo and Solder down


First half Patriots observations: Brady and Long up, Garoppolo and Solder down

The Patriots had their share of good and bad in the first half of their preseason game with the Panthers on Friday. Here's who we saw as some of the team's top performers, as well as some of the players who may have to make some corrections in the second half. 

* Tom Brady was only 3-for-9 in his four series, but he completed his passes for 76 yards and a touchdown. His touchdown pass to Chris Hogan might have been the best throw of the preseason for any Patriots quarterback as he hit Hogan in stride, over the shoulder, for a 33-yard gain. Brady was close to having a second touchdown pass, but it glanced off the out-stretched hands tight end Martellus Bennett in the back of the end zone. Brady was nearly picked on his final drive, again trying to hit Bennett. He was sacked on his final play of the half.

* Jimmy Garoppolo had a difficult time early in this one. He was 5-for-9 for 37 yards, and he picked up an intentional grounding penalty. Garoppolo also was strip-sacked by Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis, but James White recovered. Garoppolo was nearly picked by Luke Kuechly early in the first quarter when there was an apparent miscommunication between Garoppolo and Julian Edelman. 

* Chris Long had a standout half with two pressures, a pass-breakup that led to a Devin McCourty pick, and he drew a hold. The veteran defensive end has shown a good motor and a knack for getting to the quarterback in each of New England's first three preseason games. 

* Logan Ryan also had a strong first half in his preseason debut. His first five targets in coverage resulted in no completions, an offensive pass interference penalty and an interception. His former college teammate Duron Harmon also had a pick of Panthers backup Derek Anderson.

* Nate Solder allowed the pressure that eventually led to the sack of Brady by Kony Ealy. He also was flagged for a false start. Being that it's the third preseason game -- when starters typically go deep into the game -- he'll likely have a chance to redeem himself in the second half.