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#pounditTuesday, October 26, 2021

Stories by Darryn Albert:

Jets players angered by Patriots running up score on them

Bill Belichick

The New York Jets got lit up like a jack-o’-lantern by the division rival New England Patriots on Sunday, and apparently some Jets players thought that their division rivals were rubbing it in unnecessarily.

Jets offensive tackle Morgan Moses said that he and others were bothered by the Patriots running up the score, per Connor Hughes of The Athletic.

The Patriots defeated the Jets by a comical 54-13 final score. They scored another three touchdowns in the fourth quarter after they were already ahead by 21 points, continuing to take deep shots down the field.

Of course, New England was under no obligation to stop trying to score, and it is on the Jets for not being able to defend them. In fact, the Patriots pulled many of their starters, scoring their final touchdown of the game on a drive led by backup quarterback Brian Hoyer.

But the Jets are probably right that the Patriots took pleasure in rubbing salt in their wounds. New England coach Bill Belichick, who famously hates the Jets, made no secret of the joy that he got from the thrashing.

Photo: Dec 29, 2019; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick on the sidelines during the second half of their loss to the Miami Dolphins at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

LeBron James’ ankle is still cause for concern?

LeBron James in his Lakers uniform

LeBron James’ ankle injury derailed his 2020-21 season, and now there are some indications that the Los Angeles Lakers star is still not fully over it.

The Lakers added James to the injury report for Tuesday’s game against the San Antonio Spurs with soreness in his right ankle. It is the same one where James suffered a high-ankle sprain last March, costing him 20-plus games.

Lakers reporter Mike Trudell notes that James referenced the ankle after Sunday’s win over Memphis. The four-time MVP collided with Grizzlies guard Desmond Bane in the second quarter. He was down for several seconds but was able to finish the game without issue.

At almost 37 years old with over 60,000 career minutes already under his belt, it makes sense that James might not heal as quickly and may be more prone to reaggravation. He did only manage to score a season-low 19 points on 7-for-19 from the field against the Grizzlies despite the Laker victory.

We know that the Lakers entered the season already wanting to limit James’ workload. Any flare-up in his troublesome right ankle will only add to their concerns about The King.

Trae Young has clever strategy for dealing with NBA’s new rule change

Trae Young in his Hawks uniform

Trae Young is among those with the biggest adjustment to make amid the NBA’s new rules. But fortunately, the Atlanta Hawks guard is prepared.

Young spoke with veteran NBA writer Marc Stein on Monday and revealed his clever strategy for dealing with this season’s rule changes that make it tougher for offensive players to draw fouls — going straight to the source.

“I think it’s a more an adjustment on both sides, but also just me playing my game,” said Young. “I’ve been in a lot of meetings with [NBA head of referee training and development] Monty [McCutchen], trying to make sure what’s a foul and what’s not. Lot of the [contact I draw] is a foul. Me going in front, stopping on a dime, defenders continuing to run into me, that’s still a foul.”

The All-Star guard was quick to point out though that he is probably not the only player who has contacted the league to clarify the new rules.

“The league is good at that — being open to communicating about anything,” Young went on. “Especially if a guy has questions. It’s not just me. I’m sure a lot of other guys have called and just tried to get more clarification on what’s a foul and what’s not.”

Regardless, it is still plenty resourceful from Young, who had become one of the NBA’s more notorious whistle-baiters. True, his numbers are down from 25.3 points on 8.7 free throw attempts per game last season to 21.5 points on 6.0 free throws attempts per game so far this season. But Young is not quite struggling with the new rules as much as some other players are.

The 23-year-old is right that there will definitely be an adjustment period for both players and referees. But Young is doing his part to put himself in the best position to succeed, which is the mark of all the truly great players.

Photo: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Dusty Baker has funny way of pumping himself up for World Series

Dusty Baker

19 years after making his first World Series appearance as a manager, Dusty Baker is back, and he is planning for the occasion accordingly.

The Houston Astros manager told reporters on the eve of Game 1 that he listened to Tupac Shakur and Slim Thug that morning, per Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle.

It is definitely a funny way for the 72-year-old Baker to pump himself up for the World Series. Did he go for the chill vibes of “Picture Me Rollin'”? Was he embracing the Astros’ role as the villain by listening to “Me Against The World”? Or did Baker simply start blaring “Hit ‘Em Up” while visualizing the opposing Atlanta Braves? These are the real questions that we have heading into the series.

Of course, the veteran skipper Baker has always been a man of the culture. After all, he is the proud owner of one of the flat-out coolest stories ever.

Photo: Jan 30, 2020; Houston, Texas, USA; Dusty Baker speaks after being announced as the Houston Astros manager during a press conference at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Former teammate has surprising revelation about James Harden

James Harden on the court

James Harden is now getting buckets for the Brooklyn Nets, but one of his former teammates is making a surprising relevation about where Harden nearly ended up instead.

Appearing over the weekend on a Boston Celtics pregame show, ex-Celtic Kendrick Perkins said that then-president Danny Ainge consulted him last year about the possibility of a Harden-Jaylen Brown swap.

“I remember last year around this time when teams were calling about James Harden and Houston actually wanted Jaylen Brown,” said Perkins, per TalkBasket. “I was on the phone with Danny Ainge for an hour, and I remember how our conversation went. He was like, ‘Hey, Perk, would you trade Jaylen Brown for James Harden?’ And I was like, ‘Danny, you know how I feel about Jaylen Brown, but I would trade him for James Harden.’ He was like, ‘Are you kidding me? He’s not going anywhere. He’s not even 25 and he keeps getting better.’”

Perkins was teammates with Harden on the Oklahoma City Thunder for two seasons from 2011 to 2012. His comments here are surprising because they make it sound like the Rockets were willing to trade Harden to the Celtics. Ainge also apparently had people in his ear telling him to pull the trigger, but his belief in Brown may have been what ultimately nixed the deal.

Though he has since stepped down as president of the Celtics, Ainge has been proven right in the early going this season. Brown put up a ridiculous 46-9-6 line against the New York Knicks during Boston’s season opener and looks poised for his best year yet. Meanwhile, Harden is struggling in several regards so far this season.

The former MVP Harden is still one of the best players in basketball. But the Celtics were probably right to keep their homegrown star who is seven years younger and has plenty of upside of his own.

Photo: Feb 16, 2021; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard James Harden (13) reacts against the Phoenix Suns at Phoenix Suns Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Yankees slugger calls out local media over criticism

Joey Gallo in the dugout

To quote a recent GEICO ad, if you cover New York sports, you criticize. It’s what you do. But one New York Yankees slugger thinks that the criticism has gotten a little out of hand.

Yankees outfielder Joey Gallo responded this week to a recent article by Bob Klapisch of NJ.com. Klapisch noted Gallo’s ritual of laying his uniform out piece by piece before dressing then undressing if the fit was not right. The article then noted Gallo’s poor performance with the Yankees last season and questioned his fit in the New York market.

Gallo fired back in a tweet, writing, “Me: Literally gets dressed. Media: Yup that’s why he sucks.”

It was definitely a pretty odd criticism of Gallo, as many MLB players have much weirder pre-game superstitions. But the former All-Star hit just .160 for the Yankees this year, so every little thing he does will be scrutinized.

Of course, the New York-area media is notoriously tough, so much so that the Yankees have even given their players media training in the past. The best way for Gallo to get them to shut up will be to absolutely rake during his first full season with the Yankees in 2022.

Photo: Aug 14, 2017; Arlington, TX, USA; Texas Rangers left fielder Joey Gallo (13) in the dugout after hitting a home run in the third inning against the Detroit Tigers at Globe Life Park in Arlington. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Look: Warriors, Klay Thompson poke fun at anniversary team snub

Klay Thompson wearing warmups

The NBA clearly struck a nerve by leaving Klay Thompson off their 75th anniversary team, and now the Golden State Warriors know exactly how to clown the situation.

Thompson expressed his disgust this week at being snubbed from the NBA’s recent list of the 75 greatest players in league history. Over the weekend, the Warriors had some fun with the situation by presenting Thompson with a custom-made No. 77 jersey at their team facility. Warriors star Draymond Green posted videos to his Instagram Story of the funny scene with Thompson wearing the jersey and excitedly saying, “77th-best player of all-time, baby!”

Though it is the NBA’s 75th anniversary, they actually named 76 players to their list due to a tie in voting. That would make Thompson, who was not included on the list, No. 77 at best. Thompson’s backcourt partner, Stephen Curry, did make the list, so Curry can probably keep his usual No. 30 jersey.

The fun-loving Thompson is usually the one doing the trolling. But this time around, the Warriors got a chance to give him a taste of his own medicine.

Photo: May 14, 2019; Oakland, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson (11) stands on the court before the start of the game against the Portland Trail Blazers in game one of the Western conference finals of the 2019 NBA Playoffs at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Padres eyeing surprising candidate for managerial opening?

As many MLB clubs look to go younger at the skipper position, the San Diego Padres may instead be going with a blast from the past.

Dennis Lin of The Athletic reported this week that some industry sources believe former Los Angeles Angels manager Mike Scioscia will emerge as a candidate for the Padres job. Lin adds that Scioscia was on the team’s initial contact list in 2019 but did not ultimately receive serious consideration.

The 62-year-old Scioscia comes with a decorated resume. He managed the Angels for 19 seasons, winning two Manager of the Year awards and leading the team to a World Series title in 2002. Scioscia also managed Team USA in the Tokyo Olympics this past summer, guiding them to the silver medal. But Scioscia fell out of favor towards the end of his tenure with the Angels and did not exactly seem to pass the vibe check with his young players.

The Padres just fired 40-year-old Jayce Tingler after their losing season in 2021. Between Scioscia and some of the other candidates they are eyeing, it sounds like they are placing a premium on experience this time around.

Photo: Jun 5, 2021; Port St. Lucie, USA; USA manager Mike Scioscia (49) watches from the dugout in the 1st inning against Venezuela in the Super Round of the WBSC Baseball Americas Qualifier series at Clover Park. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports