Chris Paul abuses Patrick McCaw off the dribble

Jan 3, 2018; Orlando, FL, USA; Houston Rockets guard Chris Paul (3) and guard Eric Gordon (10) high five after defeating the Orlando Magic at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The task of defending Houston Rockets point guard Chris Paul is an unenviable one, with young players and established veterans alike struggling to slow down the nine-time All-Star.

Golden State Warriors guard Patrick McCaw became the latest to receive a reminder of how hard it is to defend Paul, with CP3 throwing together a mesmerizing package of dribbles before driving to the basket for a layup.

With James Harden out with a hamstring injury, Paul will have the opportunity to do even more scoring. Which could mean more highlight-worthy moments like this one.

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UCF continues with it’s “National Champions” push

Alabama and Georgia may be preparing for Monday night’s College Football Playoff title game in Atlanta, however UCF has already named itself the “National champion.”

It’s not all just talk. The school is putting its money where its mouth is.

UCF is paying bonuses to its former assistant coaches — distributing an additional $300,000 to the nine on-field assistants and $25,000 to the support staff.

UCF has already changed its Twitter handle to “2017 National Champions,” is holding a parade at Disney World, and planning to hang a banner inside Spectrum Stadium. Could a national championship ring be next?

Ring or not, UCF is certainly making a statement.

Despite finishing the regular season 12-0, the Knights were not invited to the College Football Playoff. UCF remains the only unbeaten team in major college football after a Peach Bowl victory on New Year’s day over Auburn — an SEC team who defeated both participants in next Monday’s game.

Following the Knights’ Peach Bowl win, outgoing coach Scott Frost said there seemed to be a “conscious effort” to keep UCF out of playoff consideration.

“It wasn’t right,” Frost said. “… Our guys deserve everything they get, and they deserve more credit from the Committee than what they got.”

UCF taking action to claim a “national championship” has brought attention to the debate over whether schools in the Group of Five are treated equitably in the current playoff structure.

“If you take the long view of the history of college football, there’s an awful lot of national championships being claimed by universities that didn’t accomplish what we accomplished this year in those respective seasons, so we feel we’re more than justified to claim our first national championship, and we think it’ll be the first of many,” UCF athletic director Danny White told ESPN Wednesday. “I don’t think our kids should be penalized because we weren’t respected by the College Football Playoff committee, nor should our program be penalized because we weren’t around 20 or 30 years ago when people were claiming national championships left and right.

“We’re trying to build our program, and we feel very strongly as the only undefeated team and having beat Auburn, who beat both teams competing for the national championship, that we have an extremely sound case to claim the crown.”

While Knights fans are in full support of White’s actions, he’s taken a lot of heat from critics who point to UCF’s strength of schedule. The Knights’ undefeated record in the American was not judged to be as strong as the four teams from power conferences who all made it in with one loss. SEC Network’s Paul Finebaum minced no words when he called UCF’s attempt to claim a national title “laughable.”

“I know it’s fun for the national media to adopt a pet — sometimes it’s for all the right reasons, but this is getting to be a little be ridiculous,” Finebaum said. “UCF… deserves credit… but to demean the College Football Championship that’s going on in Atlanta, the two teams that earned it, that deserve it, is quite frankly, laughable.”

Whether you agree with UCF’s national title claim or not — I think we can all agree that they’re making the most of their perfect season.

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Reports | Jon Gruden zeroing in on coaching staff options

Jan 26, 2017; Orlando, FL, USA; Denver Broncos cornerback Aqib Taleb (21) jokes around and interviews coach Jon Gruden after practice at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

While nothing’s been made official, it’s been reported that former Oakland Raiders and Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach and current ESPN NFL color commentator Jon Gruden could be on his way back to Oakland after the team decided to part ways with Jack Del Rio.

In recent days there have been reports of possible additions to Gruden’s staff should he take the job, with the names of two coaches who either have of had jobs in the NFL this season coming to light.

According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, Dallas Cowboys running backs coach Gary Brown could be a target of Jon Gruden’s to serve in the same role in Oakland. The other name mentioned is that of current Los Angeles Rams quarterbacks coach Greg Olson, with Alex Marvez of the Sporting News reporting Thursday night that he is the expected choice to serve as Gruden’s offensive coordinator should he be handed the reins in Oakland.

Brown has coached in the NFL for nine seasons, spending four with Cleveland before being hired to serve as the Cowboys running backs coach in February 2013. During his tenure in Dallas, the Cowboys had three different 1,000-yard rushers in three consecutive seasons: DeMarco Murray in 2014, Darren McFadden in 2015 and Ezekiel Elliott in 2016.

Elliott, who was suspended for six games due to a violation of the NFL’s personal conduct policy, finished the 2017 season with 983 rushing yards after leading the NFL with 1,631 as a rookie.

Unlike Brown, whose season came to an end on Sunday, Olson is still active as the Rams will host Atlanta in a wild-card game Saturday night. Under Olson’s tutelage, second-year quarterback Jared Goff has made significant strides this season, completing 62.4 percent of his passes and throwing for 3,804 yards, 28 touchdowns and seven interceptions.

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Serena Williams will not defend Australian Open title

Despite attempting to get ready for the first major of 2018, Serena Williams will not be defending her title in Melbourne, Australia.

The withdrawal comes a few days after Williams played her first public match since giving birth to her daughter Olympia in September, a narrow loss to French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko in an Abu Dhabi exhibition. The first women’s match ever at the Mubadala World Tennis Championships, the contest came together last minute after a number of high-profile injuries in the men’s event.

Williams, 36, referenced the match in her statement, saying in part, “After competing in Abu Dhabi I realized that although I am super close, I’m not where I personally want to be.”

The 2017 Australian Open, won by a pregnant Serena over her sister Venus in the final, was the last tournament the younger Williams sister played before going on maternity leave. Thus, whenever she returns to tour, she will be unranked for the first time since 1997.

Upon returning, however, Williams will still be able to enter her usual limited set of tournaments via either wild cards or protected ranking.

After missing a handful of majors throughout her career, the four majors since her 23rd singles Slam last January are the first Williams has missed since 2011, which also marks the only season in the last decade that she did not win a Grand Slam.

This will mark the fifth of those 23 majors that Williams did not defend the following season, with three of her seven Australian Open titles among them.

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Last Frame: Roadblock On Penguin Highway

Last Frame: Roadblock On Penguin Highway
Photo By Sara Stein

While photographing wildlife at Mikkelsen Harbor, Antarctica, Sara Stein discovered that penguins could exhibit some delightfully dim-witted behavior. “Penguins are some of the fastest swimmers I’ve ever seen, but when it comes to getting around on land, they’re less than graceful,” Stein explains. “This is where penguin highways come in. Similar to game trails you might see deer use, these highways help the mobility-challenged birds get from their nests to the ocean. Penguin highways aren’t very wide and tend to be dug deep into the ground due to the hundreds of penguins that use them. This can cause some problems when two of them run into each other. As cute as they are, penguins are not the brightest of birds, and when these two met in the middle of a highway, they clearly got confused. They sat there for at least five minutes trying to figure out how to get around each other. Instead of simply climbing out, they just looked around and waited for the other one to disappear magically. Eventually, one of them clumsily climbed over the other, and they went on their way as though it never happened. It was in this moment that I fell in love with these adorably silly birds.”

Canon EOS 5D Mark III, Canon EF 70‐200mm f/2.8L IS II USM @ 200mm. Exposure: 1/1000 sec., ƒ/7.1, ISO 100.

See more of Sara Stein’s photography at sarasteinphoto.com and on Instagram @sarasteinphotography.

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Autumn Sunsets Assignment Winner Wendy Gedack

Autumn Sunsets Assignment Winner Wendy Gedack
Photo By Wendy Gedack

Congratulations to Wendy Gedack for winning the recent Autumn Sunsets Assignment with the image “Luminous Echoes of Nature.”

Shot with a Canon EOS 6D, Gedack describes capturing the image: “Sometimes you wait for the right moment and your patience pays off. That is just what I experienced the night I shot this sunset on County Road 7 near Ridgway, Colorado. I have waited for the past several years to capture a colorful sunset at this location and it happened this year! I was jumping up and down like a little child given the best gift ever! It’s moments like this that keep me coming back to these beautiful locations every year. There is always a surprise around every corner and a gift waiting to be witnessed!”

See more of Wendy Gedack’s photography at www.fineartbywendy.comwww.wendygedack.com and follow her on Facebook.

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Photo Of The Day By Dawn Wilson

Today’s Photo Of The Day is “Goose Formation in the Falling Snow” by Dawn Wilson. Location: Prospect Park, Colorado.
Photo By Dawn Wilson

Today’s Photo Of The Day is “Goose Formation in the Falling Snow” by Dawn Wilson. Location: Prospect Park, Colorado.

Camera: Nikon D800

“A small group of Canada geese swim through the water in their typical ‘V’ formation as snow falls on their feathers,” describes Wilson.

See more of Dawn Wilson’s photography at www.dawnwilsonphotography.com.

Photo of the Day is chosen from various OP galleries, including AssignmentsGalleries and the OP Contests. Assignments have weekly winners that are featured on the OP website homepage, FacebookTwitter and Instagram. To get your photos in the running, all you have to do is submit them.

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Security flaw found in Intel chips may also affect AMD and ARM processors


News broke this week of a security flaw present in Intel chips which could potentially leave millions of computers vulnerable — and it could be a flaw that effects other chips as well. Originally spotted by The Register, the kernel vulnerability leaves the chips vulnerable to hackers who can exploit security bugs. While there is a fix in the works, The Register reports the patch could slow down computers by up to 30 percent. The flaw could potentially allow malicious programs to read login and password information on secure parts of the computer’s memory. But most unluckily, it might not be limited to…

This story continues at The Next Web

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Amazon and Google lost money on smart speakers while Apple just plain lost


There are few greater sights for consumers with weary wallets than seeing tech giants duke it out for our affection. When companies compete consumers win. And last year, shoppers got a lot of love when both Google and Amazon slashed prices in an effort which served to undercut Apple. Over the holiday season, Amazon’s best selling item was the heavily-discounted Echo Dot. The savings were so good, in fact, that experts think the company sold the product for less than it costs to make it. Google did the same thing with its Home Mini speakers. Amazon and Google may not always…

This story continues at The Next Web

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Erato Verse Review: Like AirPods that actually sound great


Truly wireless earbuds have exploded in popularity since Apple’s AirPods came to market. While none quite matches Cupertino on simplicity and accessibility, some competitors have taken to pummeling Apple in the sound quality department. The Erato Verse are one such contender. I’ve been using the Verse for several weeks, and they’re currently my favorite option in the ever-growing category – in fact, some of the best in-ear monitors I’ve used recently at their $150 price point. Firstly, they’re smartly designed. They use SpinFit eartips, which are probably the best silicone eartips around as they can rotate and bend to fit…

This story continues at The Next Web

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