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Saturday, January 19, 2019

Stories by Larry Brown:

Teammates joke about Drew Brees’ hair loss during career

Drew Brees

Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints are back in the NFC Championship Game for the first time since winning the Super Bowl in the 2009 season. Though the team has had other double-digit win seasons since then, they haven’t gotten this far in the postseason for a while, and a lot has changed since.

Brees says that his current teammates had jokes for him about his change in appearance over the years. Specifically, they clowned him for his hair loss.

Whatever Brees has lost in hair he’s picked up in ability and veteran savvy. His 74.4 completion percentage and 115.7 passer rating lead the league and represent the highest marks of his career. Even at 40, he’s playing at an incredibly high level — possibly the best ball of his career.

DeMarcus Cousins showcases 3-point shot in Warriors debut

DeMarcus Cousins

DeMarcus Cousins made his Golden State Warriors debut on Friday night and wasted no time showing how well he will fit in.

Cousins played 15 minutes against the Los Angeles Clippers before fouling out. He attempted 11 shots — four of which were threes. He was 5-for-11 overall and made three of his 3-point attempts, including consecutive threes early in the fourth quarter.

Cousins began to really incorporate the 3-point shot into his game three seasons ago with Sacramento and continued to hoist threes during his season and a half with the Pelicans. He’s a career 33.8 percent 3-point shooter, but that mark will likely go up this season as he takes advantage of spacing created by Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson and Steph Curry.

Cousins being able to defend opposing centers, help on the glass, and shoot the floor will make the Warriors even more dangerous than they already are.

Carmelo Anthony hints at basketball return in Instagram post

Carmelo Anthony

Carmelo Anthony seemed to hint at a return to basketball in an Instagram post on Friday.

Anthony posted a photo of himself appearing to be riding in a car. The caption was a quote saying “Things Of Quality Have No Fear Of Time.”

The easy interpretation is that this relates to his NBA career. Anthony has not played since reaching an agreement with the Houston Rockets in November to no longer play for them. He still has been taking up a roster spot though, and past reports said he might not find a new team until February. The Athletic’s Sam Amick even reported that Anthony has multiple options and will likely pick one before the Feb. 7 trade deadline.

Even though he has not played in a while, Anthony seems to believe he is something of quality and the layoff won’t be an issue.

Blake Griffin settles lawsuit with Brynn Cameron

Blake Griffin Pistons

Blake Griffin has settled his lawsuit with Brynn Cameron, the mother of his two children.

Cameron filed a lawsuit against Griffin last year, alleging that he ditched her and their kids to pursue a relationship with Kendall Jenner.

The suit said Cameron and Griffin were set to be married in 2017 but they called it off a month before after Griffin asked Cameron to sign a prenuptial agreement. He then supposedly took up a public affair with Jenner.

The two resolved their custody battle of their children, but it wasn’t until recently that the palimony suit was settled, according to The Blast.

Griffin’s relationship with Jenner fizzled out and he is now in his second season with the Detroit Pistons after previously being a lifelong Los Angels Clipper. Cameron, whose brother Jordan is a former NFL Pro Bowl tight end, also has a child with Matt Leinart.

Did Lynn Swann ban USC Song Girls over ‘Fire Helton’ chants?

USC Song Girls

Lynn Swann continues to get on the bad side of USC fans, and his latest act will only fray the relationship further.

Swann, the Trojans’ athletic director, has blocked the famous USC Song Girls from performing at USC home basketball games for the rest of the season. The Los Angeles Times reported the news on Friday, saying Swann put the order into effect in late November.

Instead of the Song Girls, a dance group called the Trojan Dance Force performs at basketball games.

When pressed for a reason for the decision, a former Song Girls captain (as well as The Times) received the following statement from USC:

“Due to ongoing game management concerns, time constraints and space issues at the Galen Center, the USC Song Girls will not perform at the remaining men’s and women’s basketball games for the 2018-19 season.

“USC Athletics and the Division of Student Affairs jointly made the decision after trying various options over multiple years to accommodate both the Song Girls and the Trojan Dance Force, which was established in 1994 to support USC basketball, at the arena.”

So their reason is that there isn’t enough room for both groups to perform. But many people are not buying that answer and are wondering why he cut the team so abruptly.

The Daily News’ Scott Wolf wrote on Twitter that some Song Girls alumni believe Swann banned them after being told some of the current members joined in on a “Fire Helton” chant at USC’s football game against Notre Dame in November.

Note that reporter Shotgun Spratling said during the game that some Song Girls had joined in on the chant.

USC lost that game 24-17 and finished 5-7 last season — their worst finish since 2000. The timeline of the Song Girls joining in on the chant on Nov. 24 and being blocked from performing at basketball games a week later seems to sync up.

Swann has already shown defiance towards the fans by retaining Helton. Blocking the Song Girls from basketball games will upset fans further.

Look: Caps’ Devante Smith-Pelly throws stick down tunnel

Devante Smith-Pelly

Devante Smith-Pelly got frustrated during the Washington Capitals’ game against the New York Islanders on Friday night and took it out on some equipment.

The 26-year-old winger had a puck deflected by Devon Toews to ruin a scoring opportunity, which likely led him to be upset.

Smith-Pelly then launched his stick down the tunnel and got another one:

He could probably grab a second career throwing javelin with the kind of arm talent he put on display there.

Smith-Pelly has just eight points this season. He was a big part of the team’s postseason run last year, scoring seven goals in 24 games.

Hue Jackson reportedly interviews for Cardinals OC job

Hue Jackson

Hue Jackson could be in the mix for an offensive coordinator position.

Jackson on Friday interviewed with the Arizona Cardinals for their offensive coordinator job, according to NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport.

Jackson was fired this season amid a 2-5-1 start in his third season as head coach of the Cleveland Browns. He has one of the worst winning percentages in NFL history as a head coach (.205), but in this role he would be serving as a coordinator. Still, between his awful run in Cleveland and the terrible stretch the Bengals had with him on staff, he’s not someone I would touch. If you have him on your staff, you can almost guarantee a loss to the Browns as long as Baker Mayfield is there.

Arizona is seeking to fill out its coaching staff under first-year head coach Kliff Kingsbury. Steve Sarkisian was close to becoming their OC until backing out in favor of a return to Alabama.

Tyrod Taylor mentioned as potential backup QB option for Ravens

Tyrod Taylor hand

Tyrod Taylor went from being the Cleveland Browns’ starting quarterback to a mostly forgotten man this season. He’s headed for free agency, and one of his old homes could be a potential landing spot for him, according to one reporter.

Jamison Henley, who covers the Ravens for ESPN, did a breakdown on why either Robert Griffin III or Taylor would make sense as a backup quarterback for Baltimore next season.

The thinking is that as a running quarterback, Lamar Jackson would be subjected to more hits than other QBs, which increases the importance of a good backup. Taylor certainly qualifies; he produced 65 touchdowns and just 21 turnovers over three seasons for the Buffalo Bills, taking them to the playoffs once. Additionally, Taylor was drafted by the Ravens and played for them from 2011-2014. He also succeeded under current Ravens offensive coordinator Greg Roman when the two were together in Buffalo.

Taylor would make plenty of sense for Baltimore, but the big question is whether he would want to sign with them as a backup. If he has a better chance at starting elsewhere, that might be more enticing. The Ravens are committed to Jackson as their starter and would want someone who understands that.