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Van Gundy lauds Clips; Lakers not 'tied together'

Van Gundy lauds Clips; Lakers not 'tied together'

NEW YORK (AP) Jeff Van Gundy will see both Los Angeles teams on Christmas, and for now he likes the Clippers much better.

Van Gundy also ranks New York ahead of Miami at this point, with everyone looking up at Oklahoma City as the NBA heads toward its marquee holiday schedule.

ESPN will show five games that day on its networks, and Van Gundy will call two of them with partner Mike Breen from Staples Center. The Lakers host the New York Knicks in ABC's first broadcast of the season, and the Clippers will face Denver in the nightcap on ESPN.

The Clippers brought a nine-game winning streak and 17-6 record into their game at Detroit on Monday, and were seven games ahead of the disappointing third-place Lakers.

``Right now, the Clippers have played outstanding basketball. They have star power, they have terrific depth and they're playing very well together, and the Lakers aren't healthy and have undergone a lot of change and just haven't played well, haven't played with the enthusiasm of a team that's truly tied together,'' Van Gundy said.

Beyond injuries to Steve Nash and Pau Gasol, Van Gundy said it's hard to tell without being around them every day what's wrong with the Lakers.

``You can tell by their play that they're just not totally tied together,'' Van Gundy said. ``I think if their health improves that will obviously be a major step forward, but they certainly have to get to where they are really playing for each other and not just with each other.''

Brooklyn will host Boston at the new Barclays Center in the opening game of the day. After the Knicks-Lakers matchup, Oklahoma City will visit Miami in a rematch of the NBA Finals. Houston travels to Chicago in the opener of the night doubleheader.

The Heat beat the Thunder in five games last June, but Oklahoma City has raced to a league-best, 19-4 record while winning 10 in a row. Van Gundy said the Heat probably aren't as happy with the way they've played so far, but that it's good enough to win games and he expects they'll get better as the year goes on.

The champs have been routed twice by the Knicks, who own the best record in the East. So at this point, Van Gundy puts the Knicks ahead of the Heat on his list of teams.

``I'm saying right now. It doesn't imply that somebody is going to be better in a playoff series,'' Van Gundy said. ``I'm saying just to date, there's no way you can say the Knicks haven't played better than Miami, because they have. They've beaten them easily twice and they've been very consistent.''

Van Gundy and Breen will be joined in the booth for a portion of the late game by actor Billy Crystal, a Clippers fan.

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Steelers will require fans to wear a mask at Heinz Field, should they be allowed

Steelers will require fans to wear a mask at Heinz Field, should they be allowed

If fans are permitted to attend Pittsburgh Steelers home games this fall, there's one item they can't forget: a mask.

Steelers' director of communication, Burt Lauten, explained the decision to require fans to wear a mask in a statement on Tuesday.

"Our goal is to still have fans at Heinz Field this year with the understanding that social distancing, as well as all fans being required to wear masks, will play a role in the capacity to ensure a safe atmosphere," Lauten said, via ESPN. "We will continue to work with the NFL and public health officials to finalize plans for fans to attend our home games."

Pittsburgh was one of the first franchises to alter its ticketing plans this season, as they decided in May to trim half of their individual game ticket sales due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

The news comes just hours after their AFC North rival, the Baltimore Ravens, announced that M&T Bank Stadium will be capped at less than 14,000 fans this fall, should fans be allowed to attend games.

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In June, The Athletic reported that the NFL will not place a limit on capacity at games, allowing each individual team to make the decision themselves.

"Attendance will be a state-by-state, county-by-county thing," an anonymous NFL source told The Athletic. "It will not be a one size fits all."

Additionally, the NFL has said that the first 6-8 rows of lower bowl sections, including field-level suites, will be blocked off this fall to help slow the spread of the virus. Those sections will be covered with tarps, which teams can use to sell advertising, similarly to what the Premier League in England has done.

With training camp still a few weeks away, there are a lot of virus-related questions the NFL must answer beforehand.

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Howard is a finalist for 2021 five-star defensive end Korey Foreman

Howard is a finalist for 2021 five-star defensive end Korey Foreman

The Howard University football program has moved a step closer to landing perhaps its highest-ranked recruit in years, if not ever.

Five-star defensive end Korey Foreman trimmed his college choice to seven on Wednesday evening, and the Howard Bison were on the list. The other six schools were Southern California (USC), LSU, Alabama, Oregon, Clemson, and Georgia.

In Foreman's tweet, he explained why Howard, a historically Black college (HBCU), was included in his list.

"I am a young black man that is happy and proud of my race," he wrote. "The Black Lives Matter movement is and forever will be powerful and definitely never forgotten. These are the schools I will now be focusing on the most. Set the standard and .. be different."

The news comes just a week after the Howard basketball program landed five-star Makur Maker, who chose the Bison over Division I schools UCLA, Kentucky and Memphis. Maker was the highest-ranked recruit Howard basketball has landed in its history. Mikey Williams, a top-five basketball recruit in the 2023 class, has already hinted about potentially playing at an HBCU as well.

Foreman, a 6-foot-4, 235-pound defensive end, is projected to commit to USC, according to 247Sports. Foreman is ranked the No. 2 overall prospect on 247Sports recruiting rankings for the 2021 class.

However, if the last few weeks are any indication, Howard can't be ruled out.

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