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Russell Westbrook after nine-turnover game: ‘I’m allowed to miss shots … I can turn the ball over too’

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The Los Angeles Lakers managed to squeak out a 108-103 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday, but they needed to overcome a very uneven performance from Russell Westbrook to do so. The enigmatic point guard turned the ball over seven times in the first half alone and finished with more turnovers (nine) than made shots (seven). Westbrook finished with a strong fourth quarter, but his uneven night nearly prevented the Lakers from making it back to .500.

But when Westbrook was asked about his early struggles, he shook off the notion by suggesting that his negative plays were merely part of the game. 

“I disagree with the point that the game wasn’t going my way. My game is not predicated on shots or if I turn the ball over,” Westbrook said after the win. “I missed some shots, that’s part of the game. I’m allowed to miss shots. I can do that, like any other player. I can do that. I can turn the ball over too. I can do that. That’s all a part of the game. But when you watch a basketball game and figure out what impact is, making the right plays, boxing out, rebounding, whatever that may be, making the right play, making the right reads. That’s all about being a basketball player. “

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There’s a grain of truth in what Westbrook said. Nobody will ever come close to shooting 100 percent from the field. Turnovers are a reality all primary ball-handlers need to deal with. Nobody is asking Westbrook to make all of his shots or never turn the ball over. If anything, Westbrook’s ambition is part of what once made him a special player. Making the big plays that he’s made throughout his career comes with a degree of risk.

But that calculus relies on reward outweighing risk. It did when Westbrook was an MVP-caliber player. It probably doesn’t now. Westbrook is averaging less than 20 points per game for the first time since his second NBA season, yet he’s turning the ball over almost 4.8 times per game. That’s well above his 4.1 career average. His overall turnover rate entering Sunday’s game was 19.9 percent, the highest of his career, but his 36.5 percent assist rate is well below his career mark of 42.5 percent. In other words, Westbrook is taking the same risks that he’s always taken, but they aren’t producing the same rewards that they once did.

The Lakers have an excellent example of a former superstar realizing that about himself and adjusting. Carmelo Anthony was once the forward version of Westbrook, known more for the bad shots he took than the many that he made. But this season, a career-high 57.5 percent of his shot attempts have come from behind the arc. Almost 19 percent have come in the paint, and while he’s still posting up and isolating from mid-range a fair bit, they almost always come against mismatches or at the end of the shot clock. Anthony has changed his game to reflect his newfound physical limitations.

But Westbrook’s words suggest that he isn’t willing or able to do the same. He believes in his identity as a player and seems content to keep playing the same way no matter the consequences for the Lakers. They beat Minnesota on Sunday, but the Timberwolves were missing a number of key players, including star big man Karl-Anthony Towns. The Lakers are a .500 team. No one on the roster, save LeBron James, should be beyond scrutiny.

Westbrook has never been known for his self-awareness. He made that clear in another recent quote in which he largely missed the point of the criticism directed at him. 

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“I think people are expecting me to have f—— 25, 15 and 15, which, that is not normal,” Westbrook said at a recent media session. “Everyone has to understand that that’s not like a normal thing that people do consistently. I know that I’ve done it for the past five years or so, or whatever that may be, but that’s not like a normal thing.” 

Nobody has been asking Westbrook to average 25-15-15. It’s been the opposite. They’re asking him to cut back on the turnovers and missed shots that he allows himself even if it means posting less impressive counting stats.

The Lakers have reorganized their team around Westbrook’s limitations. They are playing small, with more shooting and ball-handling, in part because it’s their best chance at maximizing his unique skill set and limiting his specific weaknesses. In a perfect world, he’d meet them halfway on the front, but for better or worse, Westbrook appears set on playing the way he’s always played even if he’s no longer the player he’s always been. 





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2022 WWE Clash at the Castle card, matches, rumors, predictions, match card, date, start time, location

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After 30 years, WWE is finally bringing a major stadium event back to the United Kingdom. Clash at the Castle goes down on Sept. 3 from Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, Wales.

In the main event, undisputed WWE champion Roman Reigns will put his titles on the line in front of the U.K.’s own Drew McIntyre. It’s an epic clash that puts Reigns’ more than 700-day title reign at high risk of coming to an end. The SmackDown women’s title is also set to be defended as Liv Morgan will take on a fresh challenger in Shayna Baszler.

The build to the show has started but the full card is far from finalized. With that in mind, let’s take a look at what we know — and what we expect — at WWE Clash at the Castle.  

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WWE Clash at the Castle matches

Undisputed WWE Universal Championship — Roman Reigns (c) vs. Drew McIntyre: Ahead of SummerSlam, McIntyre defeated Sheamus to become No. 1 contender to the undisputed title. Reigns then defeated Brock Lesnar in a wild Last Man Standing match at SummerSlam to retain his titles, setting up the match with McIntyre. McIntyre will clearly have the hometown crowd behind him but ending the title run of Reigns has proven near impossible.

SmackDown Women’s Championship — Liv Morgan (c) vs. Shayna Baszler: Morgan successfully — and controversially — defended her title by pinning Ronda Rousey at SummerSlam. Of course, Morgan was tapping out to an armbar, which the referee didn’t see as he counted Rousey’s shoulders down. Now, Morgan will try to make a more emphatic statement against another former MMA star in Baszler, who earned her title shot by winning a gauntlet match against six other women on SmackDown.

Bianca Belair, Asuka & Alexa Bliss vs. Bayley, Iyo Sky & Dakota Kai: After Belair defeated Becky Lynch at SummerSlam to retain the Raw women’s title, things got wild. First, Bayley returned from a lengthy injury layoff. Then, Sky and Kai made their way to the ring to join her. The new group immediately changed the landscape of the division and they set their sights on Belair and Lynch. Unfortunately, Lynch suffered a legitimate shoulder injury that put her on the sidelines, leaving it to Asuka and Bliss to join up with the champ to take on Bayley’s crew.

Seth Rollins vs. Riddle: This match was supposed to take place at SummerSlam but was pulled at the last minute with Rollins taking out Riddle with a series of stomps. Riddle again suffered the brunt of Rollins’ stomps at SummerSlam when he showed up and challenged Rollins to fight him. On Raw, Riddle announced he was now medically cleared and the two brawled again. After that, the challenge was laid down to finally face off at the upcoming pay-per-view.

Intercontinental Championship — Gunther (c) vs. Sheamus: A new challenger was required after Gunther quelled the advances of Shinsuke Nakamura. Sheamus won a hotly contested “Fatal Five-Way” match on the Aug. 19 edition of SmackDown to crown a new challenger. Sheamus defeated Happy Corbin, Madcap Moss, Ricochet and Sami Zayn to be named No. 1 contender for the intercontinental title.

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WWE Clash at the Castle predictions

The Miz vs. AJ Styles: Miz and Styles seem to keep falling into each other’s orbit. After several confrontations, the two men met in a no disqualification match on Raw, which Styles won. It seems unlikely the entire situation would end with a simple television match. Instead, look for the two to battle in Wales.

Finn Balor vs. Edge: Balor, Damian Priest and Rhea Ripley violently turned on Edge, kicking him out of The Judgement Day in brutal fashion. Edge has since made his return, attacking Judgement Day multiple times. It only makes sense for Balor and Edge to finally meet in an actual match.



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White Sox’s Tony La Russa issues another intentional walk on two-strike count in loss vs. Guardians

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Chicago White Sox manager Tony La Russa made one of the weirdest strategic decisions of the season in June, when he issued an intentional walk to a batter who his pitcher had already staked out a 1-2 count against. The call backfired, as the next batter unloaded a home run that put the White Sox in a hole from which they could not recover. La Russa defended his decision afterward, and on Friday night he doubled-down, in a sense, by doing the same thing against the Cleveland Guardians as part of a 5-2 loss (box score).

Here’s how it went down:

The White Sox led the Guardians 2-1 entering the seventh inning. Cleveland would subsequently score a pair of runs with two outs in the frame to take a 3-2 lead before La Russa inserted left-handed reliever Jake Diekman. Diekman would then walk two consecutive batters before giving up a single to Andrés Giménez to plate two more runs, making it 5-2 with runners on first and second. At that point, the Guardians rookie outfielder Oscar Gonzalez had a chance to blow the game open.

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Diekman would get ahead of Gonzalez 1-2 before the Guardians’ baserunners succeeded on a double-steal attempt. With first base open and two outs, La Russa called for the intentional walk. It should be noted that Gonzalez, though right-handed, has performed worse against lefty pitchers this season, and that he’s struck out in nearly 40 percent of the plate appearances that have reached two strikes.

Nevertheless, La Russa evidently wanted to force Cleveland manager Terry Francona’s hand with the next spot in the order. Lefty-swinging rookie Nolan Jones was due up, but Francona subbed him out for righty Owen Miller. La Russa then strolled to the mound to replace Diekman with right-hander Jimmy Lambert, who subsequently induced an inning-ending flyout on the second pitch of the at-bat.

The results will spare La Russa from the intensity of criticism that he received in June, but that doesn’t make it a sound process. We know from various studies conducted by smart analysts that microsplits, including those of the platoon and count variety, require regression toward the mean to have any actual predictive value. Maybe La Russa had those numbers on hand from the White Sox’s analytical department, but we’re going to guess that he made his call based on Gonzalez’s two-strike average (.265) and Miller’s average against righties (.262 this year or .242 career). 

After all, if intentionally walking batters who are stuck in two-strike counts was a sound tactical decision based on the numbers, the odds are that the Los Angeles Dodgers or … well, the Guardians would be the ones doing it; not La Russa. 

It may have not factored into the final score on Friday, but the White Sox can’t be thrilled that their manager seems committed to making the same mistake twice.

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Sonya Deville & Natalya face Toxic Attraction in WWE's Tag Team Title Tournament | WWE on FOX

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Natalya and Sonya Deville took on former NXT Women’s Tag Team Champions Gigi Dolin and Jacy Jayne from Toxic Attraction on Friday Night SmackDown.



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