Lewis barely recognizable at Ravens camp


Lewis barely recognizable at Ravens camp

From Comcast SportsNet

OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) -- In preparation for his 17th NFL season, Ray Lewis decided the best way to cope with his advancing age was to reduce his waistline.

The 38-year-old linebacker began training camp with the Baltimore Ravens on Thursday much lighter than his listed playing weight of 240 pounds. Lewis wouldn't reveal his exact weight, but said he's never weighed less since coming to Baltimore in 1996.

A 13-time Pro Bowl star, Lewis has built a reputation through his punishing hits on quarterbacks and running backs. Although that's always going to be his calling card, Lewis figures he can be a better LB by losing some lbs.

"The game is changing. The game isn't any more (about) 250, 260-pound fullbacks," he said. "You don't have the offenses running the ball 25, 30, 40-plus times. Passing is just happening more."

Lewis has maintained a high level of play throughout his career by adapting to his surroundings and keeping his body in excellent shape. He may be pushing 40, but he has no intention of coming off the field on a third-and-9.

"People want to find mismatches here, there. So, you just change with the game," Lewis said. "If everybody runs, who can't run? So for me, that's kind of what my thought process was coming into these next years. The lighter you get, the lighter you play, and you just feel better. You feel better because you have the wisdom to go off and do whatever you want to do. I just think playing a little lighter is a lot smarter for me."

Lewis has already played 222 NFL games, made 2,586 tackles and notched 40 sacks. There's no telling how high those numbers will get before he begins to think about retirement.

"I would be a very selfish person if I thought about that day, because until passion leaves you for the game, then that's impossible to think about," he reasoned. "To ever think about walking away from what I've been born to do in one phase of my life. I love the game too much, and I have a great connection to Baltimore, and as long as I am playing and my body feels great, then I'll keep doing it."

Lewis doesn't just play for the fun of it. He's all about winning. He already has one Super Bowl ring, and he spent the past 11 years striving to get another. His bid last season fell tantalizingly short when the Ravens lost to New England 23-20 in the AFC title game.

The narrow defeat was a crushing blow to Lewis, but he used the occasion to put on a display of leadership that resonates within the core of the team to this day.

"You're a pro, you always think about what you could have done better, how you felt, and quite frankly, that was not the best feeling," running back Ray Rice said. "But we had a great leader pull us back together, and that was No. 52. Without him in that locker room at that moment, I don't think the gelling would have come back. Ray Lewis brought us together as a team, and you'll see a team come out here with pride, ready to come out here and practice."

The Ravens have plenty of coaches but only one leader on the field: Lewis, their starting linebacker since the team arrived from Cleveland. He is the voice of experience, perhaps the one man on the roster capable of putting the proper perspective on an agonizing loss.

"There is a lot of pain in this world, real pain. People look toward us during games to be courageous in the times of loss in big defeats like that," he said. "It's OK to still be a man. It's OK to walk up and congratulate somebody else because they won. Those are the things that I think make you appreciate every moment."

Ravens linebacker Courtney Upshaw, the team's top draft pick in 2012, was a 6-year-old when Lewis made his Baltimore debut. The Lewis that Upshaw saw Thursday was a far different version than the rookie who played for Ted Marchibroda so long ago.

"It's just being blessed, that I've been able to maintain through my injuries and through the ups and downs of this game," Lewis said. "I think it's a credit to my work ethic and just everything that I've bought into over the years. And every year I'm always trying to change, always trying to come back better for my team."

Walton wins debut as Lakers finish off Rockets


Walton wins debut as Lakers finish off Rockets


LOS ANGELES -- Jordan Clarkson scored 12 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter, and the Los Angeles Lakers won coach Luke Walton's debut, holding off the Houston Rockets 120-114 on Wednesday night.

D'Angelo Russell scored 20 points and Julius Randle added 18 points, seven rebounds and six assists for the young Lakers, who got off to an exciting start in the franchise's first season without Kobe Bryant since 1995.

With a revamped roster coming off the worst season in the 16-time champion team's history, Los Angeles surged in the fourth quarter of an auspicious opener under Walton, the 36-year-old former Lakers forward.

James Harden had 34 points, a career-high 17 assists and eight rebounds for the Rockets, who lost in former Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni's debut on the Houston bench.

The Lakers played an up-tempo, aggressive offensive game under Walton, and nobody seized the moment better than Clarkson, who came off the bench in his first game since signing a $50 million contract. His 3-pointer put the Lakers up 116-112 with 1:48 left, and the Lakers hung on while the Rockets missed a long series of open shots in the final minute.

Brandon Ingram scored nine points in the No. 2 pick's NBA debut for the Lakers. Timofey Mozgov had 12 points and eight rebounds, and Luol Deng had seven points in their Lakers debuts.

After matching the franchise record with 14 first-half assists, Harden tied his career high with his 16th early in the third quarter. The Los Angeles native managed only six points in the fourth quarter, going 1 for 5, and his teammates were a combined 5 for 16.


Hall of Famer Bill Walton proudly wore a purple Lakers T-shirt to his son's official coaching debut. Walton's mother and three brothers also attended the game. "The Walton force will be strong tonight," Luke said with a grin. "There's definitely nerves and excitement right now, but mostly there's no time to think about how incredible this is, and the opportunity. It's more focused on watching film and getting the prep work in for tonight's game."


The Lakers fired D'Antoni after he went 27-55 in 2013-14, the first of a franchise-record three straight non-playoff seasons. When D'Antoni was asked before the game about reflecting on his time in LA, the coach quickly quipped: "I try not to. ... No, I loved it. I actually did. Manhattan Beach is probably the greatest place to stay. Great friends. They treated me nice, (Lakers owner) Jim (Buss) and (general manager) Mitch (Kupchak). It just didn't fit. It just didn't work."


Rockets: Clint Capela, the 6-foot-9 Swiss forward, replaced Dwight Howard in the middle of the lineup.

Lakers: Metta World Peace began his 17th NBA season, picking up three fouls in his first two minutes while guarding Harden. ... Before the game, they solidified their young core by picking up their 2017-18 contract options on Russell, Randle and Larry Nance Jr. ... Jack Nicholson, Denzel Washington, director Peter Berg, YG, Kendall Jenner, Karlie Kloss, Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman and NBA Commissioner Adam Silver attended the game.


Rockets: At Dallas on Friday in the opener of a home-and-home series.

Lakers: Open a four-game road trip at Utah on Friday.

Instant Replay: Cousins, Kings cruise in opener vs Suns

Instant Replay: Cousins, Kings cruise in opener vs Suns


The Sacramento Kings rolled into Phoenix’s Talking Stick Resort Arena and blew away the Suns on Wednesday night by a final of 113-94. The young upstart Suns tried to make a game out of it in the early fourth quarter, but Sacramento turned to their veterans who delivered down the stretch.

DeMarcus Cousins got into foul trouble early, but still found a way to drop in 24 points and grab six rebounds in 24 minutes manning the middle. Once he was in the flow of the defense, Cousins came to the aid of his teammates, stepping in and cutting off the baseline on multiple possessions.

Like Cousins, Rudy Gay didn’t look great early, but he still managed to score 22 points in the win. There was a sequence in the third quarter when Gay came alive on the defensive end, blocking back-to-back shots on the same defensive possession..

Starting for Darren Collison, Ty Lawson ran the offense better than expected, posting nine points, six rebounds and seven assists in 35 minutes of action.

Garrett Temple filled in as the reserve point guard spot and added 12 points on 6-for-8 shooting.

Matt Barnes provided a spark off the bench, tossing in 14 points and grabbing seven rebounds.

Eleven of 12 players that stepped on the floor for Sacramento scored and nine players players dropped in six points or more in the win.  

Eric Bledsoe had a nice night for the Suns, scoring 16 points on 5-for-11 shooting with five assists. T.J. Warren chipped in 14 points and five rebounds while playing solid defense on Gay early. Devin Booker added 18 points on 8-of-12 shooting, but he missed all three of his long range shots.  

STANDOUT PERFORMER -- Cousins couldn’t set the tempo early, but when he got it rolling in the third quarter, it was lights out for the Suns. There are plenty of nights that Cousins will be asked to do more, but with a big lead, the Kings didn’t need a typical showing from their All-Star center.

TURNING POINT -- Sacramento finished the first half on a 16-1 run and took a 57-38 lead into the intermission. The Suns kept it within 20 for most of the night and even made a run at the end of third, but the game was decided in the few minutes leading to the intermission.

INJURY UPDATE -- Sacramento enters the season with a full roster of healthy bodies. Matt Barnes struggled with a rib injury during camp, but played a big 27 minutes for the Kings  in the opener.

WHAT'S NEXT -- The Kings return home from Phoenix following the game where the the San Antonio Spurs are waiting for them. Thursday night’s home opener marks the first official game in the new Golden 1 Center as the Kings look to improve to 2-0 on the season.