LeBron deals with cramping, lifts Heat in Game 4

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LeBron deals with cramping, lifts Heat in Game 4

From Comcast SportsNet
MIAMI (AP) -- A limping, grimacing LeBron James shook off the pain of leg cramps to hit a tiebreaking 3-pointer and the Miami Heat held on to edge the Oklahoma City Thunder 104-98 on Tuesday, taking a 3-1 series lead in the NBA Finals. No team has ever blown a 3-1 lead in the finals, so James' resilient basket with 2:51 remaining looks likely to be the moment that clinches the title for the Heat. "He was hurting," teammate Dwyane Wade said. "But that's what it's about this time of the year. It would hurt more if we lose the ballgame, so it feels a little better if you can win it." Imagine how good it will feel if the Heat get one more victory. Better get well fast, LeBron -- you're one win from the biggest party of your life. Game 5 is Thursday and James will have a chance to finish a nine-year chase that started in Cleveland before he left for South Florida before last season. "Of course it's there to think about," said James, making it clear he plans to play. "I'll be ready for Game 5." With James watching the final moments, Mario Chalmers finished off a stellar 25-point effort that matched Wade. James had 26 points, 12 assists and nine rebounds, missing a shot at a triple-double only because he was on the bench at the end with the thigh cramps. The Heat needed all James could give and more to hold off Russell Westbrook. He scored 43 points for the Thunder, who wasted an early 17-point lead but were never out of the game because of their sensational point guard. Kevin Durant had 28 points but James Harden threw in another clunker, finishing with eight points on 2-of-10 shooting. Westbrook and Durant were the only Thunder players to score in the last 16:46. "Shots were falling," said Westbrook, who was 20 of 32. "It really doesn't mean nothing. We didn't come out with the win." James stumbled to the court on a drive midway through the fourth quarter, staying on the offensive end of the floor as the Heat regained possession on a blocked shot, and he made a short jumper that made it 92-90. After Westbrook missed a jumper, the Heat called timeout as James gingerly went to the court. Unable to walk off, he was carried to the sideline. He returned to a huge roar with a little over 4 minutes left and the Heat down two, and after Chris Bosh tied it, James slowly walked into a pull-up 3-point attempt -- perhaps doing so knowing he couldn't drive by anyone -- and drilled it. "That 3 was just sheer will and competitiveness, to contribute in some way," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. That made it 97-94, and when Wade followed with a layup with 2:19 left, the Heat finally had enough room to withstand Westbrook, who kept coming all night. "I was just trying to make a play," James said. "If I was out on the floor, I wanted to try to make a play with the limited mobility I had at that time, and I was happy I was able to come through." Chalmers, the player who was struggling so badly that the Thunder put Durant on him in hopes of avoiding further foul trouble, made 9 of 15 shots, scoring more points than he had in the previous three games. "LeBron James is one of the most dominant players in the game, and he explodes many nights scoring-wise," said Wade. "But we've always got his back, and certain nights like tonight when he wasn't feeling his greatest, you have guys like Mario Chalmers step up, big plays, big moments. "That's what this team is built on, and that's the reason we're playing together." The Heat led 2-1 in the finals last year but James' struggles were their biggest problem as they lost the next three to Dallas. He tried to play through the pain, but the Heat had to call another timeout and remove him for good shortly after his go-ahead basket, and Spoelstra said Miami couldn't keep playing four against five. Bosh finished with 13 points and nine rebounds for the Heat, who quickly climbed out of the 17-point hole by scoring 16 straight points, with Chalmers and backup Norris Cole helping steady them until James and Wade got going. "We're going to keep fighting," Durant said. "It's just frustrating, but we're going to keep fighting. That's how we've been since I got here." In foul trouble the last two games, Durant began the game covering Chalmers, an adjustment that freed him from the burden of defending James. It kept Durant safe from fouls -- but the Thunder probably didn't count on the scoring explosion from Chalmers after he totaled just five points over the previous two games. "I took that as a little sign of disrespect," Chalmers said.

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Redskins Playbook: QB Sudfeld now on a compressed learning schedule

Redskins Playbook: QB Sudfeld now on a compressed learning schedule

The Redskins hit the practice field today, suddenly finding themselves on a compressed schedule. Their preseason finale against the Bucs has been moved up from Thursday to Wednesday and now the backups who are looking to put on a good showing to stay employed in the NFL, either with the Redskins or on another team, have 24 hours less to prepare.

Here’s what we’re looking for at Redskins Park today:

—The shortened schedule will affect Nate Sudfeld the most. Jay Gruden said that the rookie quarterback will start against the Bucs and play the whole game. Yesterday Sudfeld talked about all of the play changes and other calls he will have to make it at the line of scrimmage. He now has considerably less time to become comfortable with the calls.

—Will Josh Doctson practice? He sent out a tweet last night that made it sound like he was going to be removed from the PUP list. Today might be the day; it’s the last practice for nearly a week and they might want to get him out there, perhaps push his Achilles just a bit, and then give him a few days to recover.

—How about Spencer Long? He picked a bad time to get injured, just when it looked like he might hang on to the starting left guard job. Now Shawn Lauvao steps in and, if he stays healthy, he might not step out. As with Doctson, the timing makes it difficult. With just one practice and the possibility that Sudfeld and the backups will get a lot of the snaps, does Long press to get back today? Or rest today and get ready for preparations for the Steelers next week, even if that creates the risk that he will be preparing with the second team.

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Matt Judon looks like rookie who will help Ravens pass rush most

Matt Judon looks like rookie who will help Ravens pass rush most

OWINGS MILLS – The rookie who makes the most impact on the Ravens’ pass rush immediately could be fifth-round pick Matt Judon.

Second-round pick Kamalei Correa has faded into the background since early in camp, and third-round pick Bronson Kaufusi (broken ankle) suffered a season-ending injury. Meanwhile, Judon keeps making plays. He had his third sack of the preseason against the Lions, and when the Ravens host the Bills to open the regular season, Judon should see snaps as a situational pass rusher.

Judon wanted to impress Ravens coach John Harbaugh playing against the Lions’ starters Saturday night. Mission accomplished.

“I thought he stepped up,” Harbaugh said. “I thought he answered the call. He had a big sack for us and played fast. The speed of the game for him coming from the Division II level (Grand Valley State) is going to be a transition. It is way faster (in the NFL). This is way faster than the Southeastern Conference, let alone where he is used to playing. But he is really catching up with the speed very quickly.”

The Ravens believe they have at least four effective edge rushers in Terrell Suggs, Elvis Dumervil, Za’Darius Smith, and Judon to attack quarterbacks starting Week 1. Suggs and Dumervil, two veterans coming off injuries, are unlikely to have midseason stamina during the first few games. That makes Smith and Judon even more important as younger pass rushers who will need to be effective immediately.

Suggs likes what he sees from Judon. So do all the Ravens.

“He gets on the passer,” Suggs said. “When you can rush the passer by community, it makes you a pretty much deadly team, and we like that.”

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Can Orioles' Ubaldo Jimenez shake off struggles against Blue Jays?

Can Orioles' Ubaldo Jimenez shake off struggles against Blue Jays?

Tonight's Game: Toronto Blue Jays (75-56) vs. Baltimore Orioles (71-60), Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Baltimore, 7:05 p.m.  

Starting pitchers: J.A. Happ (17-4, 3.19) vs. Ubaldo Jimenez (5-11, 6.62)

Keys to the Game:

Can the Orioles win the last two games of the series against the Blue Jays? They trail them by a season-high four games in the AL East race. 

The last time Jimenez started a game against Toronto, he allowed five runs on six hits while recording just one out. He'll have to do better, much better. 

News and Notes:

In Happ's last start, he allowed four runs on six hits in five innings, losting for the first time since June 6. He had won 11 straight decisions.

Happ is 4-3 with a 3.48 ERA in 11 games against the Orioles.

Steve Pearce is 9-for-25 (.360) with four home runs and 11 RBIs against Happ.

Jimenez is 6-5 with a 4.91 ERA in 16 games against the Blue Jays. 

Jose Bautista is 3-for-33 (.091) against Jimenez. Michael Saunders is 6-for-17 (.438) with three home runs and seven RBIs.