The numbers behind Seattle’s string of defensive dominance

The Seattle Seahawks are playing lights-out defense this season. Just as they did in 2015. And 2014 and, in fact, all the way back to 2012.

What some would call the Russell Wilson era in Seahawks history is more aptly termed their Legion of Boom years (or some such nickname). What the Seahawks have done during the past four and a half seasons is rarer than producing consistently good quarterback play. They’ve had the most dominant defense in football over that span, ranking No. 1 or 2 in Emmanuel Sanders Jersey Football Outsiders’ DVOA metric each of the past four seasons, and No. 3 so far this season. (For traditionalists, the Seahawks also are tied with the Minnesota Vikings for the lowest average points allowed this season, 14.0 per game)

Trading away Ajayi now would certainly Gary Zimmerman Jersey be bold, but the schedule for the Dolphins isn’t so appealing from Week 13 on. They face three of the seven stingiest fantasy defenses when it comes to running backs in the final five weeks. I’m not claiming “fool’s gold” with Ajayi’s awesome surge in production over the past two weeks. However, his owners should at least test the market to see what type of return Ajayi would net.

Last year, the Georgia product netted the fourth-highest “elusive rating” on Pro Football Focus among backs with at least 50 percent of their team’s carries, en route to finishing fifth in fantasy points per game among running backs in ESPN standard formats. This season, Gurley ranks just 24th in fantasy points per game and only 13th in elusive rating.

I still believe in Gurley’s talent, but his fantasy upside appears significantly limited on a Rams offense ranked 30th in points per drive (1.41) and with his team rated 31st in run blocking on Pro Football Focus. Marketing the feature back based solely on name value, or immediately after a strong upcoming game, would be a smart move.

Jones said NFL investigators can’t get to much information that isn’t part of the public record. But the league did have access to the Josh Brown police file that contained statements from Molly Brown saying the abuse happened 20 times and a police officer at the scene who said, on the record, that Molly Brown seemed fearful.

Do you believe her? Do you believe any alleged victim? Or do you only believe it if she presses charges or agrees to cooperate and says it again to you? Or do you not believe her at all, accepting only video evidence or the painful admissions of a man in therapy?

Jones also points to the importance of being fair to players and employees, who are the only people the NFL can compel to cooperate with these investigations.

Advocates for victims of domestic violence are concerned that the league isn’t giving the word of alleged victims enough weight, and that they have been unfairly characterized by people in the league. Subtle and not-so-subtle victim-blaming is fairly common. Meanwhile, Rene Renick, the VP of programs for the National Network to End Domestic Violence, is concerned about a team culture that supported Brown despite the abuse.

“I look forward to the day when other teammates say, ‘That’s not OK and I don’t want to take the field with you,’ and that takes a change of culture,” she said.

An elevator video and a written confession make this much simpler, but the NFL and investigators are unlikely to find many such smoking guns.

Larry Sanders has been a defensive presence for the Milwaukee Bucks

With the two teams locked a battle for a Wild Card spot, Saturday afternoon’s was a big one for both Pittsburgh starter and San shortstop Crawford. But it was also an important game for Amy Crawford, ‘s sister and ‘s fiance — she was attendance at PNC Park, and had to watch blood and collide. Ever the protective brother, attempted to send a warning early, blasting a pitch deep to left field. Thankfully, though, cooler heads the awesomeness of prevailed, and the baseball was rescued: answered back by striking out Crawford his next two at-bats, and Pittsburgh ended up getting the win on a Marte walk-off. We can only hope this won’t spill over to the wedding.
had to save three set points Deion Sanders Jersey the opener, roared on by a raucous Glasgow crowd, before winning 7 6 7 to give GB an unbeatable 3 lead and land a home tie with France July. That clash will come a week after Wimbledon but would dearly to play it back Glasgow. He said: I ‘t know how many grass courts they have here Glasgow but if they can lay one, I’d really to play here again. It feels great. This is a team effort and I think everyone agrees the team played their part Andy It feels great. This is a team effort and I think everyone agrees the team played their part, added Demarcus Lawrence Jersey whose win left with only a dead rubber to play against following his Friday night heroics to beat Isner from two sets down. A brilliant lob from broke Isner the sixth game of the second set and he served to to move two sets up. And although Isner took to another tie-break the third set a couple of excellent backhand slices put him trouble on his serve before finished him off with a smash at the net before seeing out the win with another ace. knows how important it is to have a noisy crowd behind the team. He said: On behalf of all of the players I want to thank the crowd because it’s been one of the most special atmospheres I’ve ever played.

Andy Greene scored, Zajac added empty-net goal, and Schneider made 33 saves for his fourth shutout of the to lead the New Jersey Devils past the Blue Jackets 2 on Saturday night. Playing their lone road game in a 10-game, 23-day stretch, the Devils won for the first time in four away. They had lost their previous two overall. Curtis McElhinney made 19 saves for, which has lost five in a row. The Blue Jackets are.500 on the road but just at home.

Larry Sanders has been a defensive presence for the Milwaukee Bucks this and leads the NBA with 3 blocks per game. Sanders’ effort has helped the Bucks reach the top blocks per game with 7 and he try to get his team back the win column Thursday night against the Phoenix Suns the desert. Milwaukee is coming off Tuesday’s 104 loss at the hands of the Los Lakers. and Kobe both scored 31 points against the Bucks, who shot a paltry 35 percent from the floor and made 7-of-28-pointers. We missed a lot of shots, but mainly because of their pressure, Bucks interim coach Jim Boylan said. They played a really good game, a really good defensive game. Monta scored 17 points and Beno Udrih chipped 14 points and seven assists the loss, Milwaukee’s sixth nine tries. The Bucks entered the Lakers game having won three of four contests. Sanders finished with six points, 11 rebounds and three blocks against Los and has swatted a shot 24 straight. Jennings, the Eastern Conference Player of the Week for played. 7, scored 12 points the recent loss and has made at least one 3-pointer 25 straight. Delfino had a 26-game run during the 2009. The Bucks are 1 on a four-game trek that ends Saturday at Portland and 9 away from the Center. Phoenix has dropped 12 of its last 14 and suffered a 102 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder the last time out on Monday. Durant and Westbrook combined for 77 points, while Brown scored 21 points to pace the Suns. Marcin Gortat notched 19 points and 15 boards for the Suns, who fell to 10 as the host this and are winless three straight at home. The Suns were coming off a win at Chicago on Saturday, their 2th history. I thought we had opportunities that we just kind of let slip on by and it’s going to be really tough to beat a team of this quality if you ‘t take advantage of those situations, Suns coach Gentry said. Suns guard Goran Dragic, who leads the team with 14 ppg, had 11 points the loss to the Thunder and is probable for tonight because of a sprained left ankle. Suns guard has missed two straight and is also listed as probable. Scola had just seven points and five rebounds versus OKC, but is averaging 16 points and 7 boards his last 10 contests. Phoenix have a break after Thursday’s game and visit Sacramento next Wednesday. The Suns face Milwaukee for a second time this and were handed a 108 loss on. 8 Brew City. The Suns, though, are 22 the past 26 meetings between the foes.

Odell Beckham Jr. was fined $24,309 because he dared to take his helmet off

Odell Beckham Jr. received yet another fine from the NFL. This time, Beckham was fined $24,309 for an unsportsmanlike penalty that he received against the Baltimore Ravens, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.

Beckham scored a touchdown Ryan Mundy Jersey late in the Giants’ game against the Ravens, and took off his helmet in celebration.

“I think (Brown has) attempted to be honest with us,” Mara said.

The team acknowledged that Sam Acho Jersey Brown told them he had physically abused his wife, and if the team does not condone domestic violence, his honesty should have led to actual consequences. There is no excuse for the Giants’ continued public support of Brown.

It’s disingenuous for the team to say they “do not condone or excuse any form of domestic violence,” because refusing to subject Brown to any sort of significant discipline is most certainly condoning and excusing his decisions to abuse his former wife.

While this sounds pretty similar to a suspension, it’s not exactly the case. Brown will be paid during his absence. In the league’s letter to Brown, as shown by ProFootballTalk, Brown’s limitations under the exempt list are detailed:

While on Commissioner Exempt, you may not practice or attend games, but with club permission you may be present at the club’s facility for meetings, individual workouts, therapy and rehabilitation, and other permitted non-football activities. You will be paid your salary pursuant to the terms of your contract and will continue to participate in all applicable benefit plans for which you otherwise qualify under the Collective Bargaining Agreement. You also will continue to accrue free agency and pension credit pursuant to the terms of the CBA.

In the original investigation, Brown was suspended for one game, despite the personal conduct policy calling for a six-game minimum for first-time offenders. After police documents surfaced on Wednesday night that showed Brown admitting to abusing his wife, the NFL claims to have tried to obtain the documents. The league says it couldn’t because the King County Sheriff’s Office would not release them until it had concluded its own investigation.

On Thursday, the league decided to reopen its investigation into Brown based on the new information:

In light of the release of these documents yesterday, we will thoroughly review the additional information and determine next steps in the context of the NFL Personal Conduct Policy. We will not be making any comments on potential discipline until that time.”
Back in April, an arbitrator ruled that the NFL’s ability to place players under paid leave with the exempt list was a valid practice. It was challenged by the NFLPA in January of 2015 after the league’s owners ratified the NFL’s revised conduct policy.

Kristaps Porzingis’s night should resonate with every Knicks fan

If you’re into symbolism, Kristaps Porzingis’s night should resonate with every Knicks fan. You’re rolling along, looking good, feeling good about the future, you do something outright -and then falls on your head. The Knicks, lost, of course-frisky as they are, they’re no match for the Spurs, even one still trying to figure out where everyone fits a rotation that now features LaMarcus Aldridge. I ‘t Emmanuel Ogbah Jersey even know what I’m doing yet, said Popovich, who admitted he hadn’t really scouted the Knicks at all. But the fun seeing what the Knicks’ fourth-overall pick is capable of, and the big Latvian excited early. He grabbed five rebounds the game’s first four minutes, and put up his first career double-double 24 minutes. But the moment that grabbed everyone’s attention was Porzingis’s putback slam over Aldridge’s back: OK, that was fun. So too was the 20-year-old’s first instinct after the dunk, which was to flex. Everybody likes what they’ve seen from Porzingis through his first four, from desperate Knicks fans to opponents. He was impressive, said. Naturally, the good vibes died when Porzingis was injured late the fourth. who led the Knicks with 19 points on 4-of-17 shooting, came down on Porzingis, who remained flat on the court for a few minutes. X-rays were negative, and the Knicks are calling it a soft-tissue neck injury. Porzingis says he’ll be fine. Good, because if you truly must watch the Knicks, Porzingis is Gary Barnidge Jersey quickly emerging as the best reason to.

FINAL Penguins 4, Red 1 : Red skid hits four. Penguins 4, Red 1 : Crosby scores his second of the game. Barring a near-miraculous comeback, that’s going to do it. Penguins 3, Red 1 : Red getting outshot 5 the third. Penguins 3, Red 1 : Malkin goes hard feet-first into the end boards and has to be helped off the ice. Doesn’t look good. Offsetting penalties issued. Penguins 3, Red 1 : Detroit has a 26 edge shots but Pittsburgh is 15 this when leading after 40 minutes. SECOND PERIOD Penguins 3, Red 1 : Red outshoot the Penguins 14 the second but Pittsburgh gets the only goal. Penguins 3, Red 1 : Gustavsson makes the first save but can’t find the rebound the crease and Maatta gets credit for giving Pittsburgh a two-goal lead. Penguins 2, Red 1 : Red back on the power play when Adams goes off for slashing. Penguins 2, Red 1 : Red outshooting Pittsburgh 11 this period. Penguins 2, Red 1 : Abdelkader will not return after being hit by Engelland. Penguins 2, Red 1 : Detroit starts the second with 4 of power-play time. FIRST PERIOD Penguins 2, Red 1 : Red outshoot the Penguins 12. Penguins 2, Red 1 : Red get a five-minute power play when Engelland gets a match penalty for hitting Abdelkader the head with his right shoulder. He’s been ejected and will be suspended pending a review. No word on whether Abdelkader is OK. Penguins 2, Red 1 : Pittsburgh is making the Red pay for taking penalties. Malkin gives the Penguins the lead on the power play. Red 1, Penguins 1 : Penguins back on the power play when Kronwall goes off for hooking. Red 1, Penguins 1 : Everybody’s favorite Penguin ties it when Crosby grabs a loose puck and buries it on the power play. His 17th goal of the. Red 1, Penguins 0 : Penguins get their first power play when Bertuzzi goes off for hooking. Red 1, Penguins 0 : Red strike first on Niklas Kronwall’s wrist shot that was tipped by Crosby. His fourth goal of the. Assists to Abdelkader and Alfredsson. Red 0, Penguins 0 : Red get the game’s first power play when Kobasew goes off for delay of game. Red 0, Penguins 0 : Goalie Gustavsson starting for the fourth time for Detroit. PREGAME The last time the Pittsburgh Penguins visited Joe Arena, the Detroit Red lost a shootout. Sound familiar? The Red haven’t lost every shootout since that 5 loss to the Penguins March 21 but it might seem that way since they’ve dropped 11 a row after 2 Thursday Tampa. But back to the Penguins. The last time Crosby & Co. came to town, scored the only goal of a shootout against MacDonald to give the Penguins a 5 victory. The loss came during a six-game stretch that saw the Red go. Now, Crosby is back town and that’s good news for Red fans who might need to release a little aggression that has built up with the holidays just around the corner. After all, nobody is disliked more the Motor City than Sid the Kid. Pittsburgh has won seven of eight and has a record its last 13 entering tonight’s game. Meanwhile, the Red have dropped three straight and are their last five. Join Brendan Savage and Ansar Khan to discuss all the action from start to finish.

Menu Nick returned from suspension to score 29 points

Menu Nick returned from suspension to score 29 points, Pau Gasol had 22 and the Los Lakers beat the Toronto Raptors 112 on Sunday, just their third win 15 games., who was suspended for Friday’s victory at Boston after throwing a punch at Phoenix’s Goran Dragic last Wednesday, scored 14 points the fourth quarter as the Lakers overcame a 19-point deficit. They won back-to-back games for the Derek Roy Jersey first time since beating Memphis on Dec. 17 and Minnesota on Dec. 20. Ryan scored 17 his first career start and Marshall had 10 points and 11 assists. The Lakers reached the midway point of the with a record of 16. DeMar DeRozan scored 23 points, Lowry had 21 and Patterson 17 as Toronto’s six-game home winning streak came to end.

The Texas A&M product, who was selected by the Browns with the 22nd overall pick the NFL Draft, was also selected Saturday by San the 28th round of the First-Year Player Draft, with the 837th overall pick. It all Filip Forsberg Jersey became official when Ciafardini, the Padres’ assistant to the scouting director, leaned to the phone front of him and said the following: The Padres select Draft ID 7165 Manziel,, a shortstop from Texas A&M University. Manziel took to Twitter to express his gratitude to the Padres. Big thank you to the Padres and for selecting me the MLB draft. What a great day! The Padres have no expectation that Manziel sign, but felt it was worth a shot anyway. I would say the near future, it’s probably unlikely, said of the team’s chances of signing Manziel. But if he ever put on a Padres’ uniform, it would be great. Who knows what the future holds? You never know. A Rangers fan growing up, Manziel was a middle infielder at Tivy High School before forgoing his baseball career favor of football. He played baseball through his junior year, but he skipped out on his senior he could graduate early and focus on preparing for his freshman football at Texas A&M. You know, I heard he’s a good player, said Padres manager Black.

I heard he was a good high school baseball player. I think he’s a middle infielder. You can always use middle infielders. most cases, they’re the most athletic players on the. Usually they go to the outfield or stay the middle. Manziel’s passion for baseball, however, did not diminish after high school. He briefly discussed the possibility of playing collegiate ball with Texas A&M’s baseball coaches, but that never came to fruition once he won the starting quarterback job as a redshirt freshman. Manziel guided the Aggies football team to 11 record, all while setting a number of collegiate records and becoming the first freshman to win the prestigious Heisman Trophy 2012. Manziel returned to the last year to throw out the first pitch prior to a Rangers-Angels game Arlington. He was scheduled to throw out another first pitch his new hometown at the Red Sox-Indians game Cleveland earlier this week, but that plan was scrapped after a lengthy rain delay. Manziel is also no stranger to the Padres or the San area. He joined the Padres for batting practice prior to their May 17, game against the Nationals at Petco Park — and even connected for a home run at the pitcher-friendly stadium. He later joined the Padres’ broadcast team during the game to talk about his for baseball and his success on the football field. Most recently, he spent time training the San area with quarterback guru George Whitfield January. It was after a workout January when Padres general manager Byrnes was standing on the field at Petco Park, wishing Manziel the best. Before the two parted, Byrnes looked back and asked Manziel a simple question: Do you want us to draft you, Byrnes said. He said, ‘Yeah sure.’ So we did. football career is certainly the priority, but you never know. It doesn’t hurt to sort of formalize the relationship and what happens. After working out at Petco Park with Whitfield, a mutual friend of Manziel and team president ‘s put the two touch. and Manziel later had dinner together San. Two years ago, the Padres selected University of Toledo quarterback Owens, who, to that point, hadn’t played college baseball.

The Detroit Pistons are coming off consecutive losses for the first time

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LOS ANGELES — The Detroit Tony Moeaki Jersey Pistons are coming off consecutive losses for the first time. They still are 5 but there is uncertain tone to some of this week’s Ask questions about Pistons-related matters. Remember, 2 on the longest trip of the thus far, with two left, and a guarantee they return home no worse than .500 through the first 10 . Any Pistons fan would have taken that before the began. For inclusion next week’s version, email your questions to and put Ask the subject line or send them . we proceed: Q: averaged over nine assists per game as a Piston last.

That’s down, he’s overdribbling, and the trickle-down effect applies apparently to more than economics as it’s become infectious like the flu. Stan Gundy doesn’t know the answer, but I want your best guess: Is overhandling because he isn’t seeing anything or because he isn’t creating anything? Is the pick and roll successful that he’s overly focused on isolation? Can we assume the isolation basketball and pick and roll aren’t synonymous?

How much of this is on the others moving and passing more dribbling less? Thanks. — Ishmael A: He isn’t creating enough but his teammates aren’t helping him. The Pistons are shooting 29 percent on 3-pointers the last five.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Marcus Tyler Lockett Jersey are overhandling too, and starting the as the go-to scorer also started a gradual trend toward more isolation by him which much be restrained. It is imperative for to keep teammates involved, because without their threat, the concept of running exhaustive pick and roll with him, then making opponents pay from outside when defenses collapse, vanishes.

Ariza had 22 points with nine rebounds and five assists

Menu New Orleans, LA – Harden scored 25 points with 10 assists and six rebounds to help the Rockets to a 95 win over the New Orleans Pelicans on Wednesday night. Ariza had 22 points with nine rebounds and five assists, while Donatas Motiejunas added 21 points and eight rebounds for . The Rockets welcomed one defensive star back to their lineup, but received concerning news about another. The Torey Krug Jersey good news is that Dwight returned from a two-month absence because of a knee injury and scored four points with seven rebounds 16 2 minutes. The bad news is that be out for a substantial amount of time. head coach McHale told reporters on Wednesday that ‘s recent wrist injury keep him out between 7-to-10 days before he is re-evaluated.

According to reports, have tore a ligament his left wrist that could require -ending surgery. I felt pretty good, said. It was kind of adjustment period for me, but I’m happy to be back out there. Tyreke Evans contributed 28 points and seven assists for the Pelicans, who lost for a fourth straight game. recorded Tuukka Rask Jersey 24 points and 14 rebounds the loss. It’s a tough loss. That’s what it is, a tough loss, said New Orleans coach Monty . The Pelicans could not gain any the Conference playoff race. They remain 3 2 behind Oklahoma City for the eight seed the conference. New Orleans came out hot the first quarter, but tightened it up over the next two frames to take eight-point lead into the fourth.

Evans scored 14 points the opening 12 minutes for a New Orleans offense that made 15 of its 20 attempts from the floor. His driving layup just before the buzzer gave the Pelicans a 34 lead entering the second. Motiejunas opened and closed 11 run midway through the second that brought the Rockets back within six, then Harden’s layup cut the deficit to one before Cunningham converted a jumper that handed the Pelicans a 52 lead at half. opened the second half on 8 run with Motiejunas bookending the spurt with shots from close to help the Rockets take a 58 edge.

Harden made a layup late the quarter that pushed ‘s lead to 11. New Orleans netted three free throws the final 20 seconds to cut its deficit to 78 after three. Former Rocket Asik dropped a layup with 1 remaining the game that cut New Orleans’ deficit to five. Following a from Motiejunas, Evans got a layup to go before , who went 6-of-14 from the foul line, split a pair that cut the margin to two with 7 seconds left. Harden then made 1-of-2 from the stripe and chose to foul the Pelicans on their next possession instead of allowing a potential tying 3- point try. Eric made the first attempt, then intentionally missed the next free throw, but time ran out before New Orleans could get another shot off. Game Notes outrebounded New Orleans 43 … Quincy Pondexter scored 10 points for the Pelicans … The Pelicans shot 20-of-32 from the foul line, while made 9-of-12 attempts … The Rockets snapped a three-game losing streak the series.

Banners are motivation as Celtics look to take next step

The first time Al Horford visited TD Garden — just five games into his NBA career — he couldn’t stop looking skyward at the Boston Celtics’ 16 championship banners that hung above the parquet floor. Horford admits he was hypnotized by the symbols of Boston’s winning tradition. He ultimately made six trips to Boston that season as the Celtics defeated Horford’s Atlanta Hawks in a thrilling seven-game series in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs en route to claiming a 17th world title.

Nine years later, the 30-year-old Horford wore his new Celtics No. 42 jersey at Monday’s media day and detailed how Boston’s history played a factor in his decision to sign a blockbuster four-year, $113 million deal this past summer.

“Maybe some guys feel differently, but I couldn’t stop looking at [the banners],” Horford said. “It’s powerful. … This is a special place.”

With the scoreboards at the team’s practice facility decorated with the same “18”s that have glowed at big media events since the team’s last title season, Horford and his new teammates stressed that they would not be overwhelmed by the heightened expectations that greet the team in coach Brad Stevens’ fourth year at the helm.

The Celtics, coming off a 48-win campaign and having added Horford this offseason, have been pegged to push north of 50 wins and emerge as the biggest challenger to the defending champion Cleveland Cavaliers in the East. While Stevens and president of basketball operations Danny Ainge were careful to temper expectations, even Ainge conceded there is one ultimate goal in Boston.

“We’re always gearing toward a championship,” Ainge said. “That’s always our objective. We’re building towards a championship. So we need to take another step.”

Anthony spoke out in his own way earlier this summer, when he asked athletes to use their platform to draw attention to police brutality in the wake of the killings of African American men by police and killings of police in Dallas. He also spoke on stage at the ESPYS about social injustice along with LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Paul, and he organized a town hall meeting in Los Angeles to discuss police and community relations.

Anthony, who told that he has emailed with Kaepernick, said Tuesday that Kaepernick’s decision to draw attention to social issues is what he was the kind of thing he was hoping for when he originally spoke out.

“That was the prime example of somebody stepping up,” Anthony said. “I think he was the first one that actually stepped up and did something the way that he wanted to do it, use his voice in the way that he wanted to use it. That’s the only thing I was asking. I didn’t know he was going to do it that way. But it is what it is at this point. Obviously, something good hopefully should come out of what he’s doing. I don’t think he’s being disrespectful. He’s not having a loud protest. He’s doing it quiet. He’s doing it in his own right, and if people want to follow suit, they follow suit. That’s on everybody else.”

Anthony said that he is unlikely to kneel during the national anthem this season. He and the rest of his teammates are likely to do something to call attention to police violence, but they have yet to decide what that will be.

Shaq’s NRG expands into Gears of War

The Gears of War esports scene just downed an energy shot courtesy of traditional sports. NRG Esports, whose investors include sports greats Shaquille O’Neal, Alex “A-Rod” Rodriguez and Jimmy Rollins, has signed a competitive squad for the upcoming Gears of War 4. The announcement, posted Wednesday on the Gears of War website, lists the new five-man roster: Christopher Stephen “Xavier Celsius” Hill, Marvin “Sir Sicamore” Moya, Yadiel “Sleepytime” Hidalgo, Frank Wesley “KO” Tibbs Jr. and Marion “Twist3DShot” Haynes.

Boston placed five players on SI’s list this year with free-agent acquisition Al Horford coming in a team-best 18th (up three spots from the previous year). Also on this year’s list for Boston: Johnson at 86, Avery Bradley at 72 and Jae Crowder at 53.

The lingering question is whether Thomas, who is coming off his first All-Star appearance, has a legitimate gripe about his place in the poll. Ranking players is no easy task and Thomas was No. 65 on ESPN’s NBA Rank poll last year.

Thomas certainly staked a claim to being one of the top 20 players in the NBA last season. While there’s no perfect metric to determine players with the biggest impact, it’s hard to ignore Thomas placing 16th in win share (one spot ahead of Horford) and 19th in Basketball Reference’s value over replacement player metric.

What will help Thomas most in these sort of polls is showing he can consistently produce at an All-Star level. Until then, he’ll use it as fuel. Thomas often finds motivation in any person or poll that doubts his abilities. Even if he vaults into the top 20 next September, you get the sense he might still find a way to feel slighted until he’s closer to the top.

He couldn’t offer up much in the way of specifics about what the coming season has in store for him, as much of that is still to be determined, but Yi did say that he likes to shoot 3-pointers, and that he believes he can space the floor.

Yi added that he never felt frustration about his first NBA go-around not having worked out so well. Instead, he said he just told himself to focus on working hard and playing hard. “That’s all I can do,” he said.

Benched Jacoby Ellsbury’s homer won’t change Yankees’ plan

NEW YORK — It is hard to believe that the New York Yankees would sign a player for seven years and $153 million, and then sit him on the bench for their most important games.

But that is precisely what the Yankees have been doing with Jacoby Ellsbury. This dates back to last year’s wild-card play-in game, when Joe Girardi decided to sit his everyday center fielder simply because he is a left-handed batter, and Dallas Keuchel, a lefty, was starting for the Houston Astros.

Assuming that the first time was the hardest, it has gotten easier and easier for the Yankees to bench Ellsbury, for a variety of reasons. Earlier this season, Girardi developed a habit of sitting either Ellsbury or Brett Gardner, his everyday left fielder who also happens to hit from the left side, when a left-hander was starting for the opposition.

“I thought he put on a great at-bat the other day,” manager Terry Collins said. “So I just said, ‘You know what? I’m going to play him tonight and see how he does.’ I really wanted to break up those left-handers [No. 5 Jay Bruce and No. 7 James Loney] because I thought it was going to be a tight game. I just didn’t want all those lefties in a row. And fortunately, he came through with a huge night. … Everybody that’s ever had him said this guy can really hit. He always has, so we’re going to give him a shot.”

Rivera’s first major league homer allowed the Mets to rebound after Jeurys Familia suffered his fourth blown save in 52 chances a half-inning earlier. The Nationals plated two runs against Familia, thanks to a pair of infield singles and third baseman Jose Reyes’ error.

Familia had been bidding to record his 49th save, which would have matched Jose Valverde (2011) and Francisco Cordero (2004) for the single-season record by a Dominican-born reliever.

“We were disappointed, frustrated,” Collins said. “We’ve got arguably the best closer in the game. And they hit four ground balls. Three of them didn’t get out of the infield, and the game’s tied. He was frustrated about it. We certainly understand it. But we wouldn’t be sitting where we are without him. But I’ll tell you, we came off the field and still had some fight left.”

The Mets have won 17 of their past 23 games and maintain a half-game lead over the St. Louis Cardinals for the second wild-card spot.

“I was super excited going around the bases,” said Rivera, who was ambushed by a whipped-cream pie to the face when he retreated to the clubhouse postgame. “It’s my first big league home run.”

Jerry Blevins recorded a game-ending strikeout of Mets tormentor Daniel Murphy to end the game.