The ugliest 2-0 team in the NFL is...

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The ugliest 2-0 team in the NFL is...

From Comcast SportsNetPHILADELPHIA (AP) -- With the game on the line, Michael Vick made all the right decisions -- again.Vick scored on a 1-yard TD run with 1:55 left, helping the Philadelphia Eagles overcome a slew of turnovers to beat the Baltimore Ravens 24-23 on Sunday for their second straight comeback win.The Eagles are 2-0 for the first time since Donovan McNabb and Terrell Owens led them to the Super Bowl in 2004."In the moment, you have to be at your best," Vick said. "It's got to be an any-means-necessary mentality."Rookie kicker Justin Tucker made field goals of 56, 51 and 48 yards for the Ravens, but Joe Flacco couldn't get Baltimore (1-1) in his range in the final minute.Flacco overthrew Ray Rice on fourth-and-1 from the Ravens 46, and the Eagles ran out the clock.Vick threw four interceptions at Cleveland last week, but rallied the Eagles to a 17-16 win.He did it again, though the replacement officials almost made a costly mistake.Down 23-17, the Eagles started at their 20 with 4:43 left. Vick threw passes of 24 and 13 yards to Brent Celek. A 19-yard pass to Clay Harbor coupled with a roughing-the-passer penalty put the ball at the 3.Vick then threw incomplete as he was being hit by Haloti Ngata, but the play was ruled a fumble and it was recovered by the Ravens. A replay overturned the call and Vick scored on the next play."There's some serious calls the refs missed," Baltimore's Ray Lewis said. "It's just the way it is, man, all around the league. We have to correct that. These games are critical. Guys are giving everything they've got all across the league. But these are calls, with the regular refs, if they were here, we know the way the calls would be made."The Eagles committed three turnovers in the red zone in the first half and lost two starting offensive linemen in the second. They have nine turnovers in two games, a major reason why they only have 41 points despite totaling 942 yards of offense."We have to get better at it," coach Andy Reid said. "You have to take care of the football. You have to throw the football to the right person. This isn't something we planned on having."Vick finished 23 of 32 for 371 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. Celek had eight catches for 157 yards and DeSean Jackson had seven receptions for 114 yards.This was a homecoming of sorts for Flacco and Ravens coach John Harbaugh. Flacco grew up in nearby Haddon Township, N.J. Harbaugh spent 10 seasons as an assistant under Reid before going to Baltimore in 2008.Tucker almost made them winners.An undrafted rookie out of Texas, Tucker beat out veteran kicker Billy Cundiff in the preseason and has made all six of his field goals in the first two games.Tucker's 56-yarder at the end of the first half sent the Ravens into the locker room up 17-7. His 51-yarder early in the fourth made it 20-17.Cundiff was 1-for-6 from beyond 50 yards last year, and missed a potential game-tying, 32-yarder against New England in the waning seconds of the AFC championship game."I think we'll be just fine coming out of this going forward," Harbaugh said.Two plays after center Jason Kelce sprained his right knee and was carted back to the locker room, the Eagles got within 17-14 on Vick's 23-yard TD pass to Jeremy Maclin. Vick scrambled to his left and threw on the run to Maclin, who slipped behind coverage and went to his knees to make a nifty catch.Philadelphia lost two more starters on its next drive. First, King Dunlap left with a hamstring injury. Maclin was then carted off with a hip pointer after making a block on Celek's 24-yard catch. Celek hurdled Ed Reed to gain a few extra yards on the play. Still, the Eagles reached the 5 before settling for Alex Henery's tying 23-yard field goal.The starting quarterbacks were coming off opposite performances in Week 1. While Vick struggled against the Browns, Flacco was near-flawless in a dominant 44-13 win against Cincinnati last Monday night.Flacco was 22 of 42 for 232 yards, one TD and one interception against Philadelphia.Despite the makeshift line blocking for him, Vick didn't take as many hard hits and was sacked only twice. He scrambled eight times for 36 yards before kneeling twice at the end.Using the no-huddle from the start, the Eagles moved the ball effectively to the Ravens 12. But Vick made another errant throw and was intercepted in the end zone by Bernard Pollard. Vick scrambled out of the pocket and had space, but he fired opposite his momentum."You can't always hit a home run," Vick said. "Sometimes you have to settle for singles and doubles. That's what I have to learn. I can't force the ball."Trent Cole stripped Flacco on Baltimore's second play and Cullen Jenkins recovered at the Ravens 15.McCoy ran in from the 1 for a 7-0 lead.Vonta Leach scored on a 5-yard TD run to tie it at 7.After the Ravens failed to convert on a fake punt -- Sean Considine ran 3 yards on fourth-and-4 -- the Eagles took over at Baltimore's 45. The drive ended in another turnover. Rookie Bryce Brown fumbled a handoff on third-and-1 at the 20, and Albert McClellan recovered at the 30.Flacco connected with Jacoby Jones on a 21-yard TD pass to give the Ravens a 14-7 lead.The Eagles drove to the Ravens 9 before Lardarius Webb caused McCoy to fumble. Lewis recovered and was slammed down to the ground by Vick. McCoy had one fumble last year when he was an All-Pro. He already has lost two in two games.Notes: Rice ran for 99 yards and caught six passes for 53 more. ... Eagles improved to 5-9 in home openers under Reid and won one for first time since 2008. ... Tucker's 56-yard FG tied Wade Richey for longest in Ravens history. ... Entering the season, McCoy had lost one fumble in the previous 28 games, spanning 565 touches. He lost his second on his 36th touch. ... Dallas Reynolds replaced Kelce at center and took his first snap in the NFL.

Young Kings' inexperience rears ugly head in loss to Jazz

Young Kings' inexperience rears ugly head in loss to Jazz

SACRAMENTO -- The Sacramento Kings showed their age Wednesday night at Golden 1 Center. They couldn’t buy a basket early. They could do no wrong in the second and third quarters. And when the chips were down, they couldn’t stop a charging Utah Jazz team from pulling away for the 112-82 blowout.

Utah led by as many as 20 in the first quarter and it looked like it was going to be a long night. The Kings shot just 31.6 percent in the game’s first 12 minutes and they allowed the Jazz to knock down 5-of-11 3-pointers early.

“We started off slow and in a hole and tried to come back,” Willie Cauley-Stein said.

The Jazz pushed the lead to 24 in the opening minutes of the second quarter and then Ben McLemore happened. The fourth-year guard went off for 17 points on 7-of-8 shooting in the second as the Kings cut Utah’s lead to just seven at the intermission.

“It’s nice to see him back in there and getting rhythm and feeling good about himself,” Dave Joerger said of McLemore. “He is able at his size to get off of people that are holding. With his athleticism, he can be an effective cutter and he can be an effective pin down player.”

The 24-year-old wing finished the night with 22 points on 9-of-12 shooting, but he was one of just three Kings players to notch double-figure scoring as the ball movement dried up for long stretches.

Utah made adjustments in the second half to slow McLemore and the Kings did a poor job of responding. They over dribbled the ball, leading to just 14 assists on the night.

The Jazz on the other hand looked like a finely oiled machine. With big man Rudy Gobert anchoring the post, they made cuts at the rim and found open shooters all around the perimeter.  

“They hit shots, a lot of shots, a lot of threes,” Willie Cauley-Stein said. “That breaks the game wide open when you’re hitting threes and a lot of stuff is going in.”

Sharpshooter Rodney Hood dropped in 5-of-5 from long range, scoring 18 points in just 24 minutes of play. Gordon Hayward knocked down 3-of-5 from deep for a team-high 20 points. Overall, Utah outscored the Kings 39-6 from 3-point range.

Despite the rough start and the barrage of 3-point makes by the Jazz, Sacramento cut Utah’s lead to just two midway through the third quarter. And then the playoff bound Jazz dropped a 52-24 run on Sacramento to finish the night off.

Joerger allowed his core of young players plenty of time on the floor. Skal Labissiere played a team-high 33 minutes in the loss, coming away with nine points and seven rebounds.  

“I’m definitely learning a lot,” Labissiere said. “It’s the best way to learn to be out there against guys like that. Whenever I’m out there, I’m always learning something. I just try to give my best.”

Rookie Georgios Papagiannis added eight points and three rebounds in 20 minutes and Buddy Hield struggled for one of the few times in a Kings uniform, scoring just two points on 1-for-7 shooting.

It’s a process. With the playoff chatter over and done with, the Kings are bound to have a few more night’s like this in the final seven games of the season as they transition to a full youth movement.

 

How Warriors became better team right before the return of Kevin Durant

How Warriors became better team right before the return of Kevin Durant

When Kevin Durant returns, which could happen as soon as next week, the Warriors will be an appreciably better team than they were when he left.

Better because in Durant’s absence, veteran wing Andre Iguodala found the best of his game and fully regained his shooting confidence.

Better because David West, who spent the first two quarters of the season acclimating to his new teammates and the third on the injury list, has settled in and turned up his fire and production to a level that pleads for more playing time.

Better because Stephen Curry is dancing and Klay Thompson is cooking and Draymond Green is destroying opposing offenses.

Better because everybody on this team can sense the postseason and is making the mental adjustment, while knowing they’ll get an emotional bounce from Durant’s presence on the floor.

“Obviously, you hate to see KD go down; he’s going to be back soon,” Curry told reporters after a 110-98 win over the Spurs in San Antonio. “But we never really lost confidence in ourselves. There was no panic. We’ve just battled.”

Consider that the Warriors, who own the best record in the NBA, are coming off two nights during which they also proved to be the best team. Going into Houston and San Antonio on successive nights, they extended their seven-game win streak to nine, the longest active streak at a time when all playoff teams wish to peak.

By wiping out a 22-point deficit to a Spurs team that simply doesn’t allow that but did anyway even with Green completely off his offensive game.

And this was done with Durant observing and cheering from the bench in street clothes while also learning more about his teammates and appreciating what they’ve been able to accomplish.

Most notably, as a team, what they’ve done on defense. After recovering from the body blow that was losing Durant, losing five of seven in the process, the Warriors have pulled off a dazzling stretch during which they’ve taken apart all comers.

Prior to holding the Spurs to 41 percent from the field, the Warriors limited the explosive Rockets to 38.8 percent, the Grizzlies to 44.7 (34.8 in the decisive second half), the Kings to 48.2, the Mavericks to 35.9, the Thunder to 42.5, the Bucks to 40.4, the Magic to 37.2 and the 76ers to 43.8.

“We play a finesse style . . . but when we’re at our best, you talk about our defense,” Curry said. “It’s about having each other’s back, trying to do little things, physically, to keep teams out of the paint and off the glass.”

What has happened is most everybody in the playing rotation has grown in the absence of Durant. And while some had to if the Warriors were to withstand his loss, that they managed to do so is significant. The evidence is visible and palpable, never more than late Wednesday night.

“We have what it takes to win all sorts of ways,” Curry said. “Whether you’re down 15 and can’t figure out what’s going on in the first quarter, or you put together a beautiful performance for 48 minutes, it doesn’t matter. Night in and night out, you’ve just got to be ready to play."

At no point this season have the Warriors had reason to feel as good as they do returning home to Oracle Arena, where they will play six of their final seven games. Winning five more games gives them the No. 1 overall seed, regardless of what the Spurs do.

They’re on top of their game and they’re a few games away from adding the man who was their best player through the first 60 games.

By all appearances and insinuations, Durant will be back for the final two or three games of the regular season. That beats any trade-deadline deal eight days a week.