I just got to be great in the space I’m in for as long as I’m in it until there’s a change

Irving could consider his pairing with LeBron James, a player so special his talents demanded future Hall of Famer Dwyane Wade transition from Alpha to Beta, to be a hardship. He chooses to see it as an apprenticeship of sorts.

,” he says. “We all understand that as basketball fans, we want to see LeBron play for 10 more years and I would love to see that. I would love to play with Bron for 10 more years.”

But James, in his 14th season and about to turn 32, doesn’t have another decade of hoops in him. Like his idol, Kobe Bryant, lusted for a chance to compete free from Shaquille O’Neal’s shadow, Irving will get his chance to operate without James. Rather than resent James for holding him back — where some would say Bryant failed his partnership with O’Neal — Irving is embracing the example that’s being set.

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Mike D’Antoni’s ability to reinvent James Harden and the Houston attack has been a standout performance so far this season.

His 23.6 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 2.4 APG, 1 SPG and 4.8 3PG over the past five games moves LaVine all the way up to 32 on this week’s rankings, up seven spots from a week ago.

Joining LaVine among the big risers this week are Mason Plumlee (78), Enes Kanter (97) Cody Zeller (111) and Tyler Johnson (121).

“If you’re going to stay consistent and you’re going to really stay true to who you are, then you have to be that all the time. No matter if it’s good, bad, ugly or beautiful; you got to stay the same no matter what. Never get too high, never get too low as cliché as it sounds. You never want to be, what is that, a (blood pressure) graph when you’re in the hospital where it goes, ‘BEEP’ and it goes up and down? That’s not the life I want to live. I want to stay consistent and have a steady breathing pattern and just keep on trucking through life despite what’s going on.”

Flaws and all, Chiefs could be a factor in playoffs

The Kansas City Chiefs have gone through most of the season with a maddeningly inconsistent offense and a defense that allows plenty of yards. Linebacker Justin Houston didn’t play in an important game Sunday night against the Denver Broncos, raising questions about the availability of arguably the Chiefs’ best defensive player going forward.

On third-and-1 with 6:59 left in the third quarter, the Steelers’ defense had Kenneth Dixon stopped behind the line of scrimmage, but his second effort got the first down and chewed more clock.

Time of possession heavily favored the Ravens, about 1.5-to-1 at one point.

To begin the second half, Roethlisberger threw to seldom-used tight end David Johnson, who watched the ball sail over his head for a pick.

Steelers safety Sean Davis had a clear shot at Flacco on a blitz but went right around him.

After all that, what’s left is cushy playoff positioning and eyes on a potential seventh Super Bowl win.

“We showed some resolve,” said Roethlisberger, who threw for 166 of his 279 yards in the fourth quarter. “That showed some fight, no quit. You never heard anything from the defense [after the second interception], you never saw them get down. … We can only stick together.”