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Spanish 7-footer, and he still believes the Lakers star-studded roster can be a title

Posted by winnie 
Spanish 7-footer, and he still believes the Lakers star-studded roster can be a title
January 14, 2014 07:42AM
EDINBURGH -- Scotland coach Andy Robinson has been forced to make two changes to his team for Sundays Six Nations match against Wales in Cardiff. Flyhalf Greig Laidlaw will start a test for the first time in place of Dan Parks, who retired from international rugby three days after Scotlands opening defeat to England. Geoff Cross has been recalled to replace tighthead Euan Murray, who does not play on Sundays because of religious reasons. Chris Cusiter keeps his place at scrumhalf and former captain Mike Blair remains on the bench. Laidlaw made his third appearance as a replacement when Parks was replaced an hour into Englands 13-6 win at Murrayfield. Parks charged down kick led to the only try of the game for England. "Congratulations to Greig on his first start," Robinson said. "He is a gifted footballer, who is acclimatizing very well to the differing demands of the stand-off position from having spent most of his career at scrumhalf. "Having lost last weekend, I believe the time is right to move on and look to develop our emerging talent at stand-off." Robinson called three uncapped players into the reserves with prop Ed Kalman, flyhalf Duncan Weir and fullback Stuart Hogg. Weir and Hogg both scored in the Scotland A sides 35-0 win against Englands second-tier side last week. "Ive always stressed the importance of the A team and the part that both Duncan Weir and Stuart Hogg played in the game at Netherdale last week is another reason for my continued excitement and belief in Scottish rugby," Robinson said. Matthew Slater Super Bowl Jersey . Doesnt matter one bit, of course. After year upon year of underachieving in the post-season, the seventh-seeded Capitals finally are overachievers: Theyre headed to the second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs after getting past the Boston Bruins in overtime of Game 7, the first time in franchise history Washington eliminated the reigning Stanley Cup champion. Chandler Jones Super Bowl Jersey . Azarenka beat Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia 7-6 (5), 6-4 in a tough opening match. The Australian Open champion and Kuznetsova traded breaks in the first set. Just when it looked like the second set was going to end in another tiebreaker, Azarenka broke again to close out the match. http://www.newenglandpatriotssuperbowljersey.com/Super-Bowl-Aqib-Talib-Jersey/ . After a sluggish first half, Iran dominated possession in the second and it paid off in the 66th minute when striker Rez Ghoochannejhad Nournia pounced on a deflection from midfielder Mojtaba Jabari and slotted home the winner. Alfonzo Dennard Super Bowl Jersey . After a scoreless first period, Brett Ritchie of Orangeville, Ont., opened the scoring 39 seconds into the second period. The Americans answered at 7:03 when Rocco Grimaldi scored on the power play with Daniel Catenacci serving a slashing penalty. Adrian Wilson Super Bowl Jersey . The Indiana Pacers announced Tuesday that they will keep Bird as team president after he met with owner Herb Simon in Los Angeles. EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Even after every disappointment in the Los Angeles Lakers lost season, Kobe Bryant still wants to keep their roster together. Pau Gasol agrees, although he knows he might be out. And Dwight Howard is in no hurry to decide whether hell rejoin this talent-loaded group that didnt meet its expectations. Howards impending free agency was prominent in the Lakers minds as they headed into the off-season Tuesday with their exit interviews. General manager Mitch Kupchak said hes "hopeful" and "optimistic" Howard will re-sign with Los Angeles after his first season ended in a first-round sweep. But Howard, the seven-time All-Star centre, wrapped up his first season in Los Angeles by vowing to make his decision in his own best interests, giving no indication he favoured the Lakers over any other team. "Im going to take my time, get away from the game, get away from my phones and everything, just clear my head," Howard said. "I think I deserve that right, so thats what I want to do. ... I do whats going to be best for myself, whats going to make me happy. At the end of the day, I cant control who likes me, who dislikes me, but I have the right to be happy. Thats what Im going to do." Howard was ambivalent about his first season on the West Coast, although he expressed love for Los Angeles when pressed. Howard said he returned from off-season back surgery several months earlier than expected because he wanted to win with Bryant and the Lakers, only to watch their season dissolve with an early-season coaching change and major injuries to almost every player in their rotation. Howard isnt saying where he wants to play, but the Lakers will court him aggressively and confidently. "I know in my heart that this is the place where I think he should be," Kupchak said. "We have a great legacy, a great history of great players in this city dating back to when the franchise came here in 1960, and he certainly fits the mould. But I dont want to get ahead of the game and take anything for granted. ... Hes earned the right to make an informed and calm decision." Howard could re-sign with the Lakers for five years and $118 million, or sign with another team for four years and $88 million. Bryant joked hell invite the boyish big man to his home in Orange County to watch cartoons. "Hes at a crossroads in his career," Bryant said. "I think Los Angeles is the perfect spot for him to assert himself and put his foot down and have his career really take off and be what it should be. Theres no greater place for a centre to play than Los Angeles." The Lakers have several other decisions to make this summer, but coach Mike DAntonis future still looks secure. Kupchak gave another vote of confidence to his first-year coach, saying "nothing has changed" from his declaration two weeks earlier that DAntoni is expected to return in the fall. If hes in charge in autumn, DAntoni thinks the Lakers will play much the same style in which they finished the regular season, assuming the same players return.dddddddddddd The Lakers improved significantly late in the season during their 28-12 run to the playoffs, with Gasol and Howard finding remarkable chemistry at times. Gasols fate is unsettled because of his $19 million-plus salary for next season and the Lakers luxury-tax situation. Bryants recovery from his torn Achilles tendon also weighs heavily on whats sure to be a busy off-season after the franchises championship dreams ended in the first round. Yet another off-season of uncertainty "can be a little draining" for Gasol, he said. "Its not ideal, but I accept the circumstances," he added. "The future is uncertain, theres no doubt about it. Theres a possibility I could be gone, a possibility I could stay. I dont know the percentages. ... It will be difficult if that was my last game, just because of the way I feel about the team, the city and my time here." Bryant isnt ready to end his five-year partnership with the Spanish 7-footer, and he still believes the Lakers star-studded roster can be a title contender with a year of good health and togetherness. Bryant doesnt see why Los Angeles wouldnt try to keep every bit of the talent it assembled last year, now that the players have spent a year of trial and error learning to play together. "I was pretty clear: I want Pau here," Bryant said. "Its not even a question. Its not even a discussion. I think he gives us the best chance to win a title. You bring Dwight back, and were off and running, but you also have to look at how well they started playing together. That puzzle finally got solved. We were all just clicking and rolling. Unfortunately, circumstances beyond our control put a wet blanket on it." Bryant also scoffed at the idea DAntoni or anybody should have stopped him from playing heavy minutes down the stretch to his season-ending injury, noting he was only following the example of Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan by checking himself in and out of games -- and he did it when Phil Jackson coached the Lakers, too. "You think Mike is really going to tell me when to go in and out of the game?" Bryant asked with a smirk. "You really cant ride Mike too hard about this." Bryant said the Lakers must improve their "length, speed and athleticism," but sees few additional weaknesses. Los Angeles must decide how much it can add while preserving the majority of the 2014 cap space, with Steve Nash the only current player with a deal past next summer. Bryant had speculated he would probably retire after next season when his contract ends along with Gasols deal, but hes no longer even leaning that way. "I dont know," the fourth-leading scorer in NBA history said. "This season kind of threw me a curveball." ' ' '
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