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#1 2018-10-12 03:28:35

Registered: 2018-02-01
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would solidify the front

Victor Oladipo feels right at home in Indiana.

Here Authentic Aaron Rodgers Jersey , he evolved from a high-flying, college acrobat for the Hoosiers into a legitimate NBA draft prospect. Here, he won over the hearts and minds of a basketball-crazed state. And here, he finally got a chance to tap into his full potential.

Now, five years after being taken No. 2 overall in the draft, the multi-talented guard has returned to his adopted home state, revived a rebuilding Pacers franchise and heads into the playoffs as the favorite to be the league’s Most Improved Player.

”To come out and get 48 wins after everything that happened is a great accomplishment,” Oladipo said after sitting out Tuesday’s 119-93 loss to Charlotte with a sore right foot. ”But there’s a lot more to accomplish and a lot more goals we want to accomplish starting this weekend.”

The only surprise bigger than the Pacers’ remarkable resurgence this season might be Oladipo’s transformation from a potential future star into an NBA All-Star.

Orlando saw the possibilities when it drafted the junior back in 2013 but wound up trading him to Oklahoma City in July 2016. With the Thunder, Oladipo served a one-year apprenticeship with eventual MVP Russell Westbrook – a year Oladipo credits with helping him emerge as the budding star he has become.

But when the Thunder got a chance to pair Westbrook with four-time All-Star Paul George of Indiana, they put Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis on the trading block. Things could not have worked out better for the players – or the Pacers.

Oladipo and Sabonis each played key roles in helping the Pacers shed the preseason projection of NBA lottery team, and Oladipo has finally found a place where he can be himself.

”I know it kind of came out of nowhere (for fans), especially after the trade. People were kind of down on Vic last year for some odd reason,” said Kevin Durant, the Golden State star who grew up in the same Maryland county as Oladipo. ”To see the trade and how people viewed that trade, and then he just turned it up throughout the season. For me, I thought it was expected of him. I’m very excited for Vic and happy for him and I know he’s going to keep getting better as a player.”

Returning to Indiana certainly helped. Hoosiers fans revered Oladipo because of how he played the game. They embraced the passion and heart he showed on the court, the effort he made on defense and believed he spoke a language any true basketball fan respects. Time hasn’t changed that part of Oladipo’s game.

”He is himself every day, and then he’s just very positive all the time,” Myles Turner said. ”Even when things aren’t going well Youth Cassius Marsh Jersey , he’s still talking, still getting guys involved, still hyping everybody else up.”

After spending four years looking for the right fit, Oladipo found it in Indy:

His scoring total increased by nearly 30 percent over his previous career best and 45 percent over last season. His averages of 23.1 points, 5.2 rebounds and 4.3 are all career highs. His average of 2.36 steals is the highest single season average of anyone in the NBA since 2013-14 and his 77 steals were 18 ahead of George, who is second, heading into the final night of the regular season.

Even opposing coaches and players acknowledge Oladipo’s breakout season should make the fifth Indiana player to earn the most improved award since 2000.

”Oh, definitely,” Lance Stephenson said, almost scoffing at the question. ”In my eyes, he’s the MVP. He’s played terrific.”

Oladipo knows there’s still plenty more to do and his blazing speed and charismatic charm make the possibilities seem endless for the 25-year-old.

The next chapter begins in the playoffs. In his previous four seasons, Oladipo has won only one postseason game and he doesn’t want this season’s magical ride to end before he can celebrate winning his first playoff series with his teammates.

And the message he sent Tuesday night resounded throughout the state.

”We’re going to go in there and win,” he said. ”We’re not going to go in there and try to win. We’re going to go in there and win.”

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Blake Bortles was largely ineffective despite a career-high 430 yards passing against Kansas City. His offensive line was the biggest problem.

The Jacksonville Jaguars failed to give Bortles enough time or protection in a 30-14 loss at the Chiefs on Sunday. Bortles was sacked five times, fumbling once, and hurried way more often.

According to Pro Football Focus, Jacksonville’s line allowed 24 total quarterback pressures — seven more than any other NFL team in Week 5.

“We take an immense amount of pride in our work,” backup left tackle Josh Walker said Monday. “That’s going to be the goal of our group this week: to be more determined to be better and do a better job in protecting Blake. We’ve got to keep him clean. That’s our job and that’s what we’re going to do.

“We’re fine. We’re not worried about things. We’re going to fix things.”

The Jaguars (3-2) might have to make some roster changes to find help.

Left tackle Josh Wells has a groin injury that could cause him to miss Sunday’s game at Dallas (2-3), and tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins is headed to injured reserve and will have core muscle surgery.

Coach Doug Marrone said Wells is “week to week” and Seferian-Jenkins is expected to return later in the year.

Running back Corey Grant (foot) also is done for the season Browns Elite Jerseys , joining Leonard Fournette on the sideline. Fournette is expected to miss his fourth game of the season because of a sprained right hamstring.

The Jaguars are planning to sign a running back and likely will do the same at left tackle.

“When you add and you’re missing some key players, you have to play to the strengths of what they can do,” Marrone said. “It is a challenge for us, but there are teams that go through those same challenges. It’s going to be on us as coaches to do a good job of putting in the right plays, going to the right people and being able to go and execute it.”

The O-line was Jacksonville’s weak link last year, failing to create holes for Fournette in the second half of the season.

The Jags thought signing All-Pro left guard Andrew Norwell to a five-year, $66.5 million contract in free agency would solidify the front. But Norwell has been average, at best, while playing alongside three different left tackles: Cam Robinson, Wells and Walker. Robinson is out for the season with a knee injury.

“We need to trust in each other,” Wells said. “The expectation level is still going to remain high. We need to put our head down and go back to work.”

The Jaguars essentially abandoned the running game after falling behind 20-0 late in the second quarter. That put a lot of pressure on Bortles and even more stress on the line, which really struggled against speedy linebacker Dee Ford.

Bortles completed 33 of 61 passes, with one touchdown and four interceptions.

“Everyone is in a tough situation,” Marrone said. “You turn around the next day (and) you want to run the football. Looking back, maybe we started throwing it a little too early. Maybe we just were pressing too much early. … You’re always going to look at that and you’re not going to sit here and say that, ‘Hey, we’re a team that wants to throw the ball 60-something times.'”



2018-10-12 03:28:35



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