Yearly Archive 2018


Around the NFC: Vikings play-caller John DeFilippo takes fall for struggles

DeFilippo takes fall. After gaining fewer than 300 yards for the fourth time in five games, Vikings first-year offensive coordinator John DeFilippo took the fall, fired on Tuesday by coach Mike Zimmer. Maybe Zimmer is the problem. He openly questioned the play calling throughout November. Instead of trying to fix the issue, he guessed by firing his coordinator. Kevin Stefanski was promoted from quarterbacks coach. Amazingly, the Vikings (6-6-1) hold the final NFC wild card spot. It’s the second in-season coordinator change of Zimmer’s tenure. Norv Turner departed a few years back. If Stefanski isn’t made the full-time coordinator, the Vikings will be challenged to find somebody qualified to work for Zimmer.
Sacked for a loss. The Rams’ Aaron Donald entered Week 15 with a three-sack lead over the Broncos’ Von Miller for the league lead. Fourteen players, including the Broncos’ Bradley Chubb, have reached 10 sacks this season. What stands out about Donald is the yardage lost on his sacks — 154.5 yards (the half-yard via a half-sack). The next-closest player is Kansas City’s Chris Jones (95). Houston’s J.J. Watt (90) is the only other player with more than 85 yards. Entering Saturday night, Miller’s sacks have lost 79 yards and Chubb’s sacks have lost 83 yards.
Sensational Saquon. Here us out on this one: Dallas’ Ezekiel Elliott (1,262 yards rushing) and the Los Angeles Rams’ Todd Gurley (1,203) are ahead of the Giants’ Saquon Barkley (1,124). But if the Cowboys and Rams enter Week 17 unable to improve their NFC playoff seeding, it could clear the decks for Barkley to win the NFL rushing title. With 147 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns against Tennessee, he will become only the fifth rookie to post at least 1,900 total yards and 15 touchdowns. Elliott did it in 2016 (1,994/16).Eric Dickerson (1983) has the rookie yards from scrimmage record (2,212).


Denver weather unseasonably warm for the next several days

An  unseasonably warm weather pattern will blanket the Denver-metro area for the next several days, delivering daytime highs in the 50s and no chance for snow on the horizon.
It will be mostly cloudy Saturday morning in Denver then gradually becoming sunny, with a temperature rising to near 52 by noon. Saturday night will be mostly clear with a low around 29, according to the National Weather Service.
That same warm and dry pattern will continue well into next week, with no forecast for snow. Nationally, sunny to partly cloudy conditions are expected from the Rockies to the Mississippi River as an expansive high pressure ridge governs through the weekend.

Overall, temperatures are expected to be near to above average for the majority of the continental U.S. through Monday with no major arctic air masses expected, according to the NWS.


President Trump pushes Congress for new health law after court rules Affordable Care Act unconstitutional

WASHINGTON — After a federal judge ruled that the Obama-era health overhaul was “invalid,” President Donald Trump is looking to congressional leaders to come up with a replacement even as the White House says the current law will remain in place for now.
“Get it done!” the president instructed Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., the likely House speaker in January.
Legal appeals are expected to reach the Supreme Court on an issue that helped propel Democrats to their new majority in the House in the recent midterm elections.
In a 55-page opinion Friday, U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor in Texas ruled that last year’s tax cut bill knocked the constitutional foundation from under the Affordable Care Act by eliminating a penalty for not having coverage. He wrote that the rest of the law cannot be separated from that provision and therefore was invalid.
Supporters of the law said they would appeal. “Today’s misguided ruling will not deter us: Our coalition will continue to fight in court for the health and wellbeing of all Americans,” said California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, who is leading a coalition of states defending the overhaul.
The White House applauded the ruling by O’Connor, who was appointed by President George W. Bush, and said that “pending the appeal process, the law remains in place.”
Related: Federal judge in Texas rules Affordable Health Care Act unconstitutional
Trump tweeted that “Obamacare has been struck down as an UNCONSTITUTIONAL disaster!” and said it was now up to Congress to “pass a STRONG law that provides GREAT healthcare and protects pre-existing conditions.”
While congressional Republicans held their silence in reaction to the ruling, Democrats said they would test the GOP’s commitment to such popular provisions.
“The GOP spent all last year pretending to support people with pre-existing conditions while quietly trying to remove that support in the courts,” Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of New York said in a tweet Saturday. “Next year, we will force votes to expose their lies.”
Pelosi said the House “will move swiftly to formally intervene in the appeals process to uphold the life-saving protections for people with pre-existing conditions and reject Republicans’ effort to destroy” the law.
But Congress is unlikely to pass a new law while the case remains in the courts. Numerous high-ranking Republican lawmakers have said they did not intend to also strike down provisions such as protection for people with medical conditions when they repealed the law’s fines for people who can afford coverage but remain uninsured.
Legal expert Timothy Jost, a supporter of the health law, said O’Connor’s ruling would have repercussions for nearly all Americans if it stands. If the entire health law is invalidated, popular provisions that benefit Medicare beneficiaries and people with employer coverage would also be scrapped. That could include the section that allows parents to keep young adult children on their coverage until age 26.
About 20 million people have gained health insurance coverage since the law passed in 2010 without a single Republican vote. Currently, about 10 million have subsidized private insurance through the health law’s insurance markets, while an estimated 12 million low-income people are covered through its Medicaid expansion.
Saturday was the sign-up deadline for 2019 private plans through Meanwhile, a number of states are expected to move forward with Medicaid expansion after Democratic victories in the midterm elections.
If the case were to reach the Supreme Court it would mark the third time the justices consider a challenge to fundamental provisions of the law. The law’s opponents lost both the first two cases.
The five justices who upheld the health law in 2012 in the first major case — Chief Justice John Roberts and the court’s four liberals — are all still serving.
Since then, public opinion on the overhaul has shifted from mostly negative to generally favorable.
Preserving the law’s protections for people with medical conditions proved to be a strong argument for Democrats in the November elections. Republicans who tried to undermine those safeguards during their failed effort to repeal the health law last year were forced on the defensive and went on record saying they, too, want to make sure people with health problems can get coverage.
House Democrats are talking about passing legislation that enshrines protections for medical conditions. It’s unclear what form that would take, or if the Republican-majority Senate would go along and Trump would sign it.
The GOP-led states that had sued asked O’Connor to toss out the entire law after Congress repealed the “individual mandate” penalty for going without coverage. The judge had previously ruled against other Obama-era policies.
The Trump administration weighed in, saying the government would no longer defend some core components of the law, but that others could remain, including Medicaid expansion, subsidies for private insurance and health insurance markets.
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Along with the requirement to have health insurance, the administration said the parts of the law that should go included:
–the requirement that insurers must take all applicants for comprehensive coverage regardless of prior health history, including existing conditions. That includes a prohibition on insurers writing policies that exclude a particular condition — for example, a recurrence of breast cancer.
–the prohibition on insurers charging higher premiums to people with health problems.
The health insurance industry says doing away with consumer protections will destabilize a market that seems to be finding its footing, with modest premium increases and more plan choices next year.
The American Medical Association called O’Connor’s ruling an “unfortunate step backward for our health system that is contrary to overwhelming public sentiment to preserve pre-existing condition protections.”


Broncos’ Bradley Chubb in position to become NFL’s greatest rookie pass rusher

Jim Washburn had never met Bradley Chubb, but Washburn once coached the greatest rookie pass rusher in NFL history, so he walked through the doors of N.C. State last spring to see what he had heard was the next big thing.
Chubb checked the first box.
“We went into the athletics facility and everybody spoke to him,” Washburn said. “The lady at the reception desk got up and gave him a hug. We’re walking down to the weight room and there’s a custodian that he went over to and he gave a big hug. It was every single person in the whole place. They all went over and hugged him and he knew their names.”
Washburn is retired from the NFL sidelines where he spent two decades as a defensive line coach between Tennessee, Philadelphia and Detroit. In 1999, Washburn mentored Titans’ edge rusher Jevon Kearse to 14.5 sacks (a rookie record). Today, Washburn provides individual instruction with top NFL draft prospects.
His clients just happen to include the Broncos’ No. 5 overall pick now in position to break Kearse’s record.
Chubb enters Saturday night’s game against the Browns with 12 sacks, needing three more with three games left to set a rookie standard.  “I’ve never really been a guy chasing records,” Chubb said. “I’ve just been a guy going out there playing football.” The production? The result of preparation.
Chubb’s path to sack history featured four days of Washburn’s coaching to sharpen the finer techniques to corralling NFL quarterbacks. Topics like decoding a quarterback’s audible calls pre-snap and deciphering run or pass based on the tiniest visual clues were included.
“He was sharp, took notes and was on top of everything,” Washburn said. “He was on a tight schedule then because he had so many pre-draft visits then, but we spent maybe two hours on the board and I could tell he picked things up really quickly.”
Said Chubb: “(Washburn) was helping me with a lot of things and different drills to work on when he wasn’t with me anymore. A guy like that helped me out a lot because he was an NFL coach for so many years. He pretty much told me what to expect and how to handle things.”
Washburn continued teaching on the practice field as Chubb ran a “hoops drill” where players are required to run along the outside edge of two large circles — showcasing balance, speed and power — in pursuit of a bag laid on different outside edges. Washburn considers the drill essential in evaluating edge rushers and said “you could hear Chubb’s cleats just ripping the turf” on every repetition.
“If you’re going to be a good pass rusher, you need serious ankle bend and lower-body flexibility, and it didn’t take Don Shula to figure out (Chubb) was rare and unique in that aspect,” Washburn said. “His center of gravity was so low. He had some real stuff.”
Washburn, who worked for interim Browns’ head coach Gregg Williams while serving as the Titans’ defensive coordinator in the late 1990s, sent tape of Chubb’s hoops drill to Williams before the draft. Pairing Chubb alongside dynamic Cleveland edge rusher Myles Garrett? It could have happened but Cleveland passed on Chubb at No. 4 in the draft to take cornerback Denzel Ward, allowing the Broncos to get him with the No. 5 overall pick.
“(Chubb) is a great fit for what’s being done out there with Denver and would have been a great fit for us, too,” Williams said. “At the time we needed defensive back help. But I would have loved to have both of those guys here.”
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Chubb is thankful his path led to Denver and being an edge rusher opposite of six-time Pro Bowler Von Miller, who gushes week after week about the standout rookie. “(Chubb) has a great, long motor and he has a feel for getting to the quarterback,” Miller said. The comparisons to Kearse’s 1999 rookie season are inevitable, too, but Washburn sees it a bit differently.
“I thought Von Miller was a Jevon Kearse type freak athlete, and that’s not Chubb,” Washburn said. “I think Chubb understands technique, was coached well in college and is coached well out there. I think a combination of being relentless, he’s got all the physical tools and he’s smart. Those three things are going to make him a real successful player for a long time.”
Washburn discussed Kearse’s rookie season with Chubb during their workouts. He rooted against 49ers’ rookie Aldon Smith to breach the mark in 2011 when he fell 1/2-sack short with 14 total. Washburn’s tune changed after meeting Chubb.
“I was scared to death with Aldon was going to beat his record. I didn’t want him to do it,” Washburn said. “But I said to Chubb, ‘I tell you what, since you’re such a good dude, I’m going to give you permission to break his record.’”


Sack-by-sack look at Broncos LB Bradley Chubb’s rookie season

A recap of each of Broncos linebacker Bradley Chubb’s 12 sacks this season: 
Week 1 vs. Seattle
Situation: First-and-10, Seahawks 16.
Time: 3.88 seconds.
The play: A half-sack split with safety Darian Stewart, Chubb was checked by two tight ends and cleaned up the play created by a Derek Wolfe pressure of Russell Wilson.
Week 3 at Baltimore
Situation: Second-and-7, Ravens 19.
Time: 3.06 seconds.
The play: Chubb bull-rushed left tackle Ronnie Stanley and then moved too quickly for left guard Alex Lewis’ late block attempt and sacked Joe Flacco.
Week 6 vs. L.A. Rams
Situation: First-and-10, midfield.
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Time: 3.28 seconds.
The play: Chubb bull-rushed All Pro left tackle Andrew Whitworth and posted the sack of Jared Goff when Goff stepped up in the pocket and right into the pressure.
Situation: Third-and-6, Broncos 46.
Time: 3.90 seconds.
The play: Chubb tried to get around Whitworth to the outside, but that move was thwarted. Good coverage downfield forced Goff to hold onto the football and Chubb got the sack when he shed Whitworth.
Situation: Third-and-3, Broncos 19.
Time: 3.85 seconds.
The play: Chubb ran a stunt with defensive end Adam Gotsis, veering inside at the snap. Whitworth collided with Gotsis, getting off balance and allowing Chubb to eventually sack Goff, who initially spun away.
Week 7 at Arizona
Situation: First-and-10, Cardinals 46.
Time: 2.47 seconds.
The play: Chubb used a bull rush against left tackle D.J. Humphries before finishing the move by winning outside and stripping Josh Rosen of the football.

Situation: Fourth-and-16, Cardinals 40.
Time: 3.08 seconds.
The play: Chubb used one arm to push Humphries off balance and finished the play by diving to trip up Rosen.
Week 8 at Kansas City
Situation: First-and-10, Chiefs 45.
Time: 3.13 seconds.
The play: A half-sack split with linebacker Von Miller, Chubb went outside against tight end Travis Kelce and then darted inside to sack Patrick Mahomes.
Week 9 vs. Houston
Situation: Third-and-9, Broncos 16.
Time: 5.53 seconds.
The play: Chubb was chipped by tight end Jordan Thomas, engaged with left tackle Julie’n Davenport, looped inside and was met by left guard Senio Kelemete and eventually sacked Deshaun Watson as he tried to scramble upfield.
Week 11 at L.A. Chargers
Situation: First-and-10, Chargers 39.
Time: 2.38 seconds.
The play: Chubb started as if he was going to try and go outside of left tackle Russell Okung before changing directions and winning on an inside move and sacking Philip Rivers.
Week 13 at Cincinnati
Situation: First-and-10, Bengals 35.
Time: 2.42 seconds.
The play: Working against fill-in left tackle Clint Boling, Chubb used his hands to gain separation and go outside of Boling to sack Jeff Driskel to force a fumble he eventually recovered.
Week 14 at San Francisco
Situation: Third-and-2, Broncos 4.
Time: 2.07 seconds.
The play: The 49ers had right guard Mike Person pull to the left side. Chubb was playing run but when Nick Mullens kept the football, he drove Person into Mullens for the sack.

Situation: Third-and-15, 49ers 39.
Time: 2.77 seconds.
The play: Chubb momentarily stumbled at the snap, but looped inside of rushing linebacker Shane Ray. 49ers left guard Laken Tomlinson was too late to switch from Ray to Chubb, who sacked Mullens.


Broncos vs. Browns live blog: Real-time updates from the Week 15 NFL game

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Live updates, tweets, photos, analysis and more from the Broncos game against the Cleveland Browns at Broncos Stadium at Mile High on Dec. 15, 2018.
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Holiday travel through DIA: Great Hall construction, snow globes and wearing shoes through security (sometimes)

Shocker: This holiday seasons will be busy at Denver International Airport.
On Dec. 21, DIA is expecting 196,790 passengers to pass under its tented roof. On Dec. 27, another 198,360 people will do the same.
With those blockbuster traffic days in mind, airport and TSA officials are offering some tips and advice for travelers. In a nutshell: be prepared, be early and if you have a question, reach out and ask, either in person or online.
“We always recommend that passengers are inside the airport two hours in advance of their flight and during the busy holiday travel season that is even more important,” TSA spokeswoman Carrie Harmon said Friday.
Getting around the Great Hall
Demolition work that started this summer as part of DIA’s $650 million Great Hall renovation project will continue through the holidays. The work is primarily impacting the upper levels of the Jeppesen Terminal building where the airline check-in counters are located.
“If you haven’t been out here since we started construction, pay close attention to the yellow construction signage. That is going to be helpful for getting people to where they need to go,” airport spokeswoman Emily Williams said.
Staff members with maps are stationed around the terminal, and the airport website,, has a map tab at the top right corner of the homepage.
Because the work is taking place in the middle of the terminal, passengers will not be able to walk from one of the buildings to other on the upper level. If you enter on the south end and need to reach an airline counter to the north, you will have to go outside and come back in, or take the long way around, going down to the main level and back up.
“If you need to check in, you want to be dropped off near the sign for your airline,” Williams added.
On the main level, officially level 5, where two of the airport’s three main security checkpoints are located, passengers can walk from one end to other by walking by the baggage carousels located on either side of the main corridor.
Striving for convenience and comfort
The homepage features real-time updates on waits at security checkpoints and the status of the airport parking garages and lots. Security information is displayed on screens in the terminal as well. Parking information can be accessed by phone at 303-DIA-PARK, and picking option 1.
DIA last month launched a new bag drop and check-in service at its two economy parking lots, the $8-per-day Pikes Peak and Mt. Elbert shuttle lots. As long as you arrive 90 minutes before your flight, you can can stop at a kiosk at the lots where a greeter will help you check your bags, print boarding passes and pay airline bag fees. The service is available Saturday through Thursday from 2 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Friday from 2 a.m. to 7 p.m.
To ease stress and add a little seasonal fun to the airport experience, DIA, for the third year, is operating a free ice skating rink on the open-air plaza between the terminal and the Westin Hotel on the south side of the building. Complimentary hot chocolate and apple cider are part of the mix some afternoons, Williams said.
Flying with gifts, and other tips
TSA security lines will operate normally around the holiday season, but the agency does have recommendations for seasonal questions.

If you plan to fly with gifts, don’t wrap them with paper and tape. If a gift sets off an alarm, a TSA agent may have to open it to inspect it. Instead, use a gift bag or box or wrap it when you arrive at your destination.
Snow globes are subject to liquid restrictions. If you’re flying with a snow globe with greater than 3.4 ounces of liquid in it, put it in a checked bag.
You can fly with prepared foods, but again be aware of the liquids rule if your food item is pour-able or spreadable. Fruitcake: OK to carry on. Jam: Check it if the jar is larger than 3.4 ounces.

The TSA’s Harmon said passengers who are unclear about what they should do with a certain item can find help by visiting, downloading the agency’s mobile app, or even reaching out to its Twitter account, @TSA.
“You can even snap a picture of an item and say, ‘Can I bring this on the aircraft?’ and we will respond in real time to say if you can put it in checked bag, your carry-on bag, or if you should just leave it at home,” she said.
The TSA does sometimes employ dogs at DIA screening points that may clear some passengers without them having to take their shoes off, but all travelers should be prepared to go through security as they normally would — shoes off and all — this holiday season.
Flight delays happen
MagnifyMoney, a financial advice and blog site, earlier this week released a list of the best and worst airports for on-time holiday flights. DIA landed at fourth worst, with 64.1 percent of its flights between Dec 20 and Dec. 31 arriving and departing on time over the last 10 years.
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The MagnifyMoney study covered the 50 busiest airports in the U.S. and relied on data from the U.S. Department of Transportation, according to the site.
Williams said DIA’s internal analysts couldn’t replicate those findings. Over the entirety of 2017, the airports on-time percentage was 82.2, she said.
Williams said it’s important to remember DIA is a hub airport with incoming flights impacting the timing of outgoing traffic. That means if the weather is good in Denver but bad in other parts of the country, it can still lead to delays.
“The best thing to do is check with us, check with your airline and know that we are all doing all we can to get you moving,” she said.


Broncos Insider: Browns game a family affair for opponents Bradley and Nick Chubb

This time last year a pair of cousins dominated college football.
There was linebacker Bradley Chubb at N.C. State with a school record 26 sacks and consensus first-team All-American honors. And there was running back Nick Chubb at Georgia running for 145 yards and two touchdowns against Oklahoma in the College Football Playoff semifinals. The pair grew up about 45 miles apart in as high school football stars in Georgia.
“Our first time meeting each other was our senior year of high school,” Bradley said. “We always heard about each other being in the same state.”
After years of hypothetical trash talk about a potential meeting, the Chubb family reunion finally takes place Saturday inside Mile High. Broncos’ Bradley versus Cleveland’s Nick. Both dominant Chubb athletes.
Bradley says he’ll keep in-game chatter with Nick to a minimum, “because that’s family at the end of the day.” But don’t expect any favors, either.
“I know he’s not going to hold back and he knows I’m not going to hold back. It’s just going to be a regular football game. You can’t put too much weight on it because then if you start thinking, ‘My cousin’s on the other side,’ you end up getting trucked or something. You’ve just got to keep it pushing and just play.”
— Kyle Fredrickson, The Denver Post

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What’s on tap?
Week 15: Cleveland Browns, 6:20 p.m. Saturday, NFLN; 850 AM, 94.1 FM
TV/RADIO: Here’s what sports are airing today
Joe Amon, The Denver PostLinebacker Bradley Chubb #55 of the Denver Broncos on Day 2 of Denver Broncos training camp at the Dove Valley on July 29, 2018.
Broncos’ Bradley Chubb in position to become NFL’s greatest rookie pass rusher
Chubb needs three sacks over the final three games to break the rookie record. Read more…
Eric Lutzens, The Denver PostFans cheer as the national anthem is played before the game on Sunday, Sept. 9 at Broncos Stadium at Mile High. The Denver Broncos hosted the Seattle Seahawks in the first game of the season.
Broncos’ resale ticket market drops as team heads toward another season without playoffs
Some fans in Broncos Country are shifting their ticket money to the Nuggets, “because they’ve been good.” Read more…
Andy Cross, The Denver PostHead coach Vance Joseph of the Denver Broncos walks on the sidelines during the fourth quarter against the Seattle Seahawks. The Denver Broncos won 27-24. The Denver Broncos hosted the Seattle Seahawks at Broncos Stadium at Mile High in Denver, Colorado on Sunday, Sept. 9, 2018.
Kiszla: With Broncos on brink, Vance Joseph and Brandon Marshall try to hang on to their jobs
Coach Vance Joseph and linebacker Brandon Marshall are fighting for their jobs in Denver, with no guarantee of being employed by the Broncos beyond this season. Read more…
Quick Hits
+ Broncos Mailbag: Why won’t they fire Vance Joseph? (Version 4.0)
+ Broncos Journal: Connor McGovern has three games to show he can be option at center in 2019
+ Broncos Game Plan: How Denver matches against the Browns, injury report and predictions
+ Broncos coach Vance Joseph to QB Case Keenum: Let it rip
+ How Baker Mayfield proved NFL readiness under Broncos’ staff at Senior Bowl
+ Von Miller says penalties won’t change his guess-the-snap-count approach
+ Responding to coach’s critique, Broncos QB Case Keenum says “I’ve got to play better”
+ Cleveland Browns Scouting Report: Former top overall picks Baker Mayfield, Myles Garrett lead squad in Denver in Week 15
+ Broncos beware: Browns’ defense thrives on turnovers
+ Denver Post Week 15 NFL Picks: Patriots look to bounce back after improbable loss to Miami
+ NFL Journal: Early call on Broncos’ draft should be prioritizing offense
+ Want to chat about the Broncos? Ask to join our closed discussion group on Facebook.
By The Numbers
Broncos Briefs: Phillip Lindsay is 33 yards from 1,000
Pressing question. Can Broncos running back Phillip Lindsay reach the 1,000-yard mark with games to spare? Read more…
Parting Shot
Feces, cockroaches and mold: Denver venues have some of the worst food-safety violations in pro sports, new report says
“At least our sports teams rank high in something,” said Denver restaurant consultant John Imbergamo. Read more…
Get in Touch
If you see something that’s cause for question or have a comment, thought or suggestion, email me at or tweet me @danielboniface.


Jamal Murray on skirmish with Russell Westbrook: “I was standing in my spot”

What should’ve been a benign jump ball at the end of Friday’s Nuggets-Thunder matchup turned into a revealing moment that encapsulated Denver’s burgeoning confidence.
Russell Westbrook stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Jamal Murray, the two jostling for position with the game already decided and just 35 seconds remaining on the clock. Next Westbrook took a step in front of Murray and shoved him, inviting the confrontation that happened next
“He was in my way,” Westbrook said curtly after the 109-98 loss to the Nuggets that improved Denver’s West-leading record to 19-9.
Murray, whose 19 points and nine rebounds were each second only to Nikola Jokic’s sterling night, had a different version.
“I was standing in my spot, (Westbrook) tried to step over me and then shoved me first,” Murray said. “I guess they were losing or whatever. I don’t know. Ask him. I was just standing in my spot.”
Murray has already gotten under the skin of Kyrie Irving this season, but it appeared Westbrook was the instigator on Friday.
“My skin? We’re up 30 seconds left,” Murray said. “What do you want me to do? I’m not doing anything. … That’s how he is, I guess. That’s not my problem.”
The skirmish devolved into some jawing and shoving between two teams that clearly dislike each other. After Westbrook was bottled up by defensive specialist Torrey Craig in their first meeting in late November, the Thunder’s central nervous system went haywire after he was contained by Craig yet again. Westbrook managed just 13 points on 5-of-15 shooting.
The win again revealed that Murray is the emotional heartbeat of the Nuggets, and rather than admonish his young point guard as he did when he attempted to eclipse 50 points in a win over Boston, Nuggets coach Michael Malone endorsed Murray’s moxie.
“A lot of guys can’t play with emotion, and some guys can,” Malone said. “Jamal, for me, being around the game for a long time, is one of the better players that when he gets emotional, he becomes a better player. He thrives with that emotion. I like it. We’re developing a personality. For a young team to be doing what we’re doing, the confidence is there, I think the toughness is starting to show itself.”
Down three starters against the NBA’s best defense, the Nuggets illustrated their seemingly endless depth once again. Craig tied a career-high with 15 points, Juancho Hernangomez added 16 and Monte Morris offered 14 as the Nuggets got invaluable contributions from nearly everyone who played. Of course, Jokic is the adhesive that makes it all work. He finished with 24 points, 15 rebounds and nine assists, embracing a scorer’s mentality that must carry them until several crucial scorers return.
“I think it’s just another testament to our team’s toughness, durability, resiliency, moxie, grit, whatever else you want to call it,” Malone said.
Swaggy P
The Nuggets have an extremely tight-knit locker room that would normally be difficult to crack, but Nick Young’s personality has a gravitational pull.
Young, less than a week into his tenure with the Nuggets, made sure his teammates knew who landed the first interview in the postgame locker room after he buried two big 3-pointers.
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“From watching cartoons with the family to hitting 3s in a game,” Young said. “Gotta love it.”
Young’s interview was interrupted multiple times as teammates shouted “Swaggy P” but that hardly distracted the veteran quote machine.
“I’m like Elvis really,” Young said of his raucous debut at the Pepsi Center. “I’m like Elvis Presley out here. Swaggy Presley. It’s an honor to be doing this for so long and being embraced by everybody. It’s fun, it’s a blessing.”


New 12-acre solar garden promises big savings for Western Slope

GRAND JUNCTION — Don’t let the chilly air and shorter days fool you: Hundreds of solar panels located off Interstate 70 near Palisade are working just fine.
Come January, the 12-acre (5-hectare) solar garden will go online and fully offset electricity costs for Palisade, saving the town an estimated $1.2 million over the next 20 years.
The panels also will save the city of Grand Junction $600,000 over the next two decades, The Daily Sentinel reported . The 2-megawatt solar garden will create renewable energy to power 75 percent of the electricity needs at the Grand Junction police station and add to the city’s existing solar credit portfolio to completely power the water plant at 26¼ Road with renewable energy.
The cities of Rifle and Fruita, Mesa County Libraries, the Grand Junction Housing Authority, the Museums of Western Colorado and other subscribers also will benefit from the Grand Valley’s latest solar garden, thanks to Xcel Energy’s Solar Rewards Community Program.
The partnership with Denver-based solar garden developer Oak Leaf Energy Partners benefits Palisade even further. The company makes annual lease payments on the town’s land.
“There’s no investment on our part,” Palisade town treasurer Joe Vlach said. “It’s worth it.”
Mike McCabe, a partner with Oak Leaf Energy Partners, offered Grand Valley officials a tour of the solar farm on a recent afternoon.
He said the solar garden site in a low area near the new Cameo Shooting and Education Complex is situated in a good location being visible from the interstate but difficult to access and far away from residential development.
“It’s a natural fit,” he said. “It’s kind of located on an island.”
The Grand and San Luis valleys are considered the sunniest parts of the state and collect the most solar energy, he said.

The sun-tracking panels are easy to maintain and automatically shut down only in the event of wind blowing more than 40 mph.
The roughly $4 million project has been in the planning stages for about two years, but only took a few months to install, McCabe said.
Oak Leaf is seeking more sites to add the solar gardens after recently being approved by Xcel to add projects totaling 34 megawatts in 2-megawatt solar gardens, McCabe said.