Aron Baynes hit a clutch shot in the lane in the final three seconds to take the San Antonio Spurs to a 106-104 preseason victory over the Atlanta Hawks Thursday night.The Hawks trailed by 14 before rallying in the fourth quarter. Kyle Korver carried the Hawks with 26 points and three of them tied the game 97-97 in the fourth. Al Horford scored 13 points; DeMarre Carroll, 14 points; and Jeff Teague scored 15 points, including a game-tying 3-pointer at 104-104.But that wasn’t enough to stop the Spurs, Tony Parker scored 17 points, 13 of them in the third quarter alone, to lead the Spurs. Tim Duncan sunk 16 points with eight rebounds in 19 minutes; Marco Belinelli, 13 points; and Manu Ginobili scored 11 points for the Spurs.The Spurs went into the locker rooms with a 44-41 lead at halftime.San Antonio is working with 12 of the same players from last season, including all five starters that lost to Miami in the 2013 finals.The Spurs will return to Miami to play LeBron and company in their next preseason game Saturday, Oct. 19, at 7:30 ET on NBATV.
The amazing thing about George Foreman goes beyond winning the heavyweight championship at the creaky boxing age of 45, after losing it at 25 to Muhammad Ali in Zaire, Africa.It’s pretty amazing that all this time later, George Foreman remains relevant. More than that, Foreman, once a boorish and mean oaf, has done so by becoming corporate America’s No. 1 pitchman.It is a position he holds unrivaled, and one no one would have pegged him for after he became this behemoth knockout artist with no room for cheer.But after losing to Jimmy Young in 1977, Foreman said he had a “religious experience.” In that moment in the locker room he decided to retire from boxing and eventually became a born-again Christian.It also was the beginning of him morphing into a Black man who would become the face of white corporate America on a significantly larger scale than O.J. Simpson and even Michael Jordan.Foreman told Sports Illustrated that he mimicked John Wayne when he walked; he adopted mannerisms like boxing champion Sonny Liston; and shaped his mustache after all-time great running back Jim Brown—three men with imposing reputations. He released those elements when he retired.“It took so long for me to find me,” he said to the magazine. “Once I did, my mom even liked me. She didn’t like me much when I was trying to be those other guys.”Ten years after retiring, Foreman, in need of money, returned to boxing with not much fanfare. Promoter Bob Arum recalled to SI: “I was not enthusiastic, realizing what a horrid person he had been.” But after spending an hour with Arum said, “This is the greatest con man in history because he was so different from what he had been before. But it wasn’t a con. He had really changed.”That change made him an embraceable pitchman. It helped that he knocked out Michael Moore at age 45 to become the oldest heavyweight champion in history.Young George Foreman was a force.His always-grinning disposition bordered on buffoonery, but he laced his persona with enough wisdom, gospel and Black empowerment for it to be more congenial than a caricature.Suddenly, with the historic victory and this warm and fuzzy person came offers to endorse products. Foreman told SI he had been hesitant about putting his name to products. But in 1991, none other than Bill Cosby called Foreman.“I don’t want to be on TV saying this and that,” the champ told the comedian.Cosby, Foreman said to the magazine, was not having it. “Come on, man. You’re no different from anyone else. You want to be on television, you want to be known,” Foreman remembers him saying. “If you don’t take ’em, I’ll take ’em.”That was the moment Foreman became the all-time pitchman. Over the years he has done commercials for Nike, Doritos, McDonald’s and Meineke. The deal that made him rich and famous came in ’94, when he agreed to lend his name to and appear in commercials for a line of indoor grills. The George Foreman Grill became a blockbuster hit, earning him more than he ever took as a boxer.He made so much money off the grills that in 1999, Salton Inc., the maker of the product, gave him $137.5 million in combined stock and cash to avoid having to continue paying him royalties, SI reported.He became the spokesperson for InventHelp last year, a company that helps people get patents for prototypes of products. He’s also launching Foreman’s Butcher Shop, a mail-order meat company with an emphasis on quality, health-conscious products sourced from family farms in the Midwest.Why does Foreman push products on all media platforms and speaking?“Never say no,” he said is his approach.He does, however, have other interests. His George Foreman Youth Center in Houston has existed for years as a place Black kids come to play sports and learn life lessons.“The kids would come in and want to learn to box,” Foreman has said. “They wanted to tear up the world, beat up the world. And I’d try to show them they didn’t need anger. They didn’t need all that killing instinct they’d read about. You can be a human being and pursue boxing as a sport.“When you speak to a lot of kids, as I’ve done over the years, you know what to say, keep them laughing, (giving them) good illustrations and (stressing to) learn to read.”Foreman has learned to live with a reality that will not go away, no matter how many products he endorses and how much he’s on TV. At the height of his career, at 40-0 with 37 knockouts, Ali knocked out Foreman in a victory that resounded around the world.“If that fight hadn’t turned out like it did, my life would have been very different,” Foreman said. “I have no regrets. They’ll be talking about it for 100 years, and they’ll always have to mention my name.”He now calls Ali one of his best friends.“After 1981, we became the best of friends,” Foreman said. “By 1984, we loved each other. I’m not closer to anyone else in this life than I am to Muhammad Ali. Why? We were forged by that first fight in Zaire, and our lives are indelibly linked by memories and photographs as young and old men.”
Pelicans3850.5100.4 That’s more proportionate to the small difference separating Minnesota, New York and Philly in the standings.Here’s how the lottery balls would have been distributed in each of the past 10 seasons.4For 2012, which was shortened by a labor dispute, I’ve prorated loss totals to an 82-game schedule. On average, the worst team would have had about a 25 percent chance of winding up with the top pick, as it does now. But those chances would have been as high as 38.5 percent (for the record-setting 2012 Charlotte Bobcats) or as low as 19.0 percent (for the 2013 Orlando Magic), depending on how much separated the very worst team from the almost-as-bad ones. In a year like 2010, in which there was a big gap between the second-worst team (the 15-67 Timberwolves) and the third-worst (the 25-57 Sacramento Kings), that’s where the sharpest break in lottery chances would have been.It’s not the radical change that I’d prefer! But it’s a simple enough reform that even the Knicks couldn’t screw it up.CORRECTION (April 15, 3:36 p.m.): An earlier version of the chart in this post gave the incorrect location of the second-worst NBA team in 2005. At that time, the Hornets were located in New Orleans, not Charlotte. TEAMLOSSESLOTTERY BALLSCHANCE OF FIRST PICKLOTTERY BALLSCHANCE OF FIRST PICK Jazz4480.8100.4 Knicks6519919.957620.3 Kings54636.31696.0 Heat45111.1160.6 Suns4360.6100.4 Pistons50282.8812.9 76ers6415615.652918.6 Hornets49171.7642.3 CURRENT SYSTEMREVISED SYSTEM Timberwolves6625025.0%62522.0% Magic57888.82569.0 Nets4470.7100.4 Lakers6011911.936112.7 Nuggets52434.31214.3 The New York Knicks did something unusual Monday night: They won a basketball game — just their 17th this season. What wasn’t so unusual — from a franchise that starred in such tragicomedies as Amar’e Stoudemire punching a fire extinguisher and Andrea Bargnani nearly snatching defeat from the jaws of victory — was the Knicks’ poor sense of timing. Having spent most of the season ridding their roster of anyone who could possibly help them win, the Knicks have now won twice in a row.Those two wins could make a lot of difference to the Knicks’ chance of drafting Jahlil Okafor or Karl-Anthony Towns. With one game left for each team, the Knicks are 17-64, a game better than the Minnesota Timberwolves at 16-65. The Philadelphia 76ers have the third-worst record at 18-63.Let’s say each team loses its final game. Under the NBA’s lottery formula, the Timberwolves would have a 25.0 percent chance of landing the first pick, the Knicks would have a 19.9 percent shot, and the Sixers a 15.6 percent chance.That seems like an awfully big difference for teams that are separated by just one or two games in the standings. But it’s how the NBA’s rules work. The number of losses doesn’t matter, only the order of the teams.1The league does, at least, split the difference in the event of ties, so if the Knicks and Timberwolves each finish at 17-65, they’ll each have about a 22.5 percent chance at the first pick.There’s a better way to award those pingpong balls, one that maintains the spirit of the current lottery system without allowing a one-game difference to matter so much.Here’s how it works. Take each team’s number of losses. Subtract 41 (41-41 represents a breakeven record in the NBA). Then square the result. That’s how many pingpong balls a team gets. (OK, one more provision: A team gets a minimum of 10 lottery balls, including if it has a winning record.2Otherwise, a team with a winning record would get more lottery balls than a team with a 41-41 record, since subtracting 41 from a number less than 41 and squaring the result would produce a positive number.)That might seem arbitrary — but it produces results that are remarkably similar to the current formula, only fairer. What chance would each team have at the first pick this year, for example? Assuming each team’s final game goes according to the FiveThirtyEight NBA Power Ratings,3Meaning that the Wolves, Knicks and Sixers all lose. that would leave the Wolves with a 22.0 percent chance at the first pick, the Knicks at 20.3 percent and the Sixers at 18.6 percent.
On their own, Burns’s numbers are impressive. But when you compare them to those of his peers, they look downright heroic. Since the lockout — and excluding 2012-13, which was a half-season — the top-10 defensemen in the league each season2Ranked by points scored have scored an average of 58 points. This year, Burns scored 18 more points than that. The entire blue line corps of five teams failed to notch more goals than Burns, including the Washington Capitals, who had the best record in hockey. Other blue liners have been snubbed since Pronger’s Hart win. Most notably, Nicklas Lidstrom won seven Norris trophies as the league’s top defenseman, but he was never even named as a finalist for the Hart trophy.3Burns will likely win his first Norris tonight. It’s true that Lidstrom’s reign of dominance coincided with the rise of generational talents like Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin, but it’s difficult to believe one of the five best defensemen to ever play hockey wasn’t good enough to at least be considered as one of the three best players in the NHL during that stretch.And if the dearth of defensemen nominated for the Hart since Pronger’s win in ‘99-00 looks suspicious, all you’ve got to do is look at the three decades preceding his win to understand it’s been something of an enduring trend: before Pronger, the last defenseman to win the Hart trophy was Bobby Orr in 1971-72.4Orr won the award three times consecutively between 1969-70 and 1971-72, scoring 376 points over that stretch. It’s the second-best three year span for a defenseman in NHL history. And before Orr? It was Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Babe Pratt, who won the Hart in 1943-44. Hockey writers—apparently—don’t have much love for defensemen.Although it ostensibly honors the best player on the ice, the Hart trophy is basically an award given to the top forward — and really just the top center 5Since Orr last won the Hart in 1971-72, 28 of the 45 winners have been center icemen. That Wayne Gretzky played in that span helped. — and every once in awhile the top goalie in the NHL. Until the Hart’s description reads, “Given to the league’s best centerman (and sometimes it’s best goalie, too),” it’s due time the PHWA begins taking the candidacy of the league’s top defensemen for the league’s top honors seriously. At the NHL’s annual awards show tonight in Las Vegas, the shiniest piece of hardware that will be given out is the Hart Memorial Trophy, which is awarded to the player deemed to be the most valuable to his team by the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association. The shortlist of nominees includes Penguins’ captain Sidney Crosby, Oilers’ phenom Connor McDavid, and Blue Jackets’ goalie Sergei Bobrovsky — all of whom had terrific seasons. But no matter who wins, there’s an argument to be made that it will be the wrong choice. This is because the league’s most outstanding performance came from someone who wasn’t nominated.San Jose Sharks’ defenseman Brent Burns turned heads all season, and often for reasons other than his toothless smile, man bun and ZZ Top beard. His production was everything you could ask of someone on the blue line, notching 76 points, tied for the fourth-highest point total by a defenseman since the lockout of 2004-05. Of those 76 points, 29 were goals, which was 70 percent more than the second-best defenseman and the most by anyone at the position since 2008-09. Burns isn’t only a goal-producing machine—he also led the league in point shares, 1Point shares roughly translate to the amount of a team’s points one player is responsible for. A decent analog is Bill James’ win shares, a complicated formula popular among baseball statheads. accounting for more of his team’s success in the standings than any of the three (still very worthy) MVP candidates nominated above him. He’s also the only player in the NHL to finish in the top five in both offensive and defensive point shares. That’s pretty impressive stuff, but not impressive enough to be a finalist for the Hart, apparently.Despite Burns’s gaudy scoring numbers and clear impact on his team’s success, it shouldn’t come as a shock that the PHWA left Burns off its list: Defensemen, despite representing one third of the players on ice, have a long history of being overlooked. The last time a defenseman was nominated for the Hart trophy, we were all basking in relief that Y2K hadn’t destroyed civilization. Chris Pronger won the award after his brilliant 1999-00 season with the St. Louis Blues. In his MVP-winning campaign, Pronger notched 62 points and led the NHL with 14.2 point shares, both of which fall short of Burns’s numbers from 2016-17.
Sophomore midfielder Paige Hamilton (2) fights for the ball against Penn State on Sept. 28 at Buckeye Varsity Field. OSU lost, 4-3.Credit: Grant Miller / Copy chiefThe road has not been kind to Ohio State field hockey so far this season, but the team is looking to clean things up when it travels to Bloomington, Ind., for a 3 p.m. showdown with the No. 18 Indiana Hoosiers on Friday.The Buckeyes are 1-5 on the road this season and have yet to pick up a Big Ten victory. The team understands the importance of the late conference games and how it can use them as a stepping-stone to the Big Ten Tournament, junior forward Peanut Johnson said.“I think we take, especially Big Ten games, very seriously,” Johnson said. “And each one, we wanna come out with everything. Typically, at least in my career, we’ve come out in the tournament really hard and played really well, so hopefully we get it together for these last few games.”For OSU, it’s all about matchups when facing the Hoosiers. Coach Anne Wilkinson said she wants to find the best way to get her playmakers into space.OSU’s biggest playmaker on the season has been freshman midfielder Maddy Humphrey, who leads the team with 11 goals and 30 points. Humphrey picked up her third Big Ten Freshman of the Week honor Tuesday after compiling seven points last week in games against Rutgers and Kent State.“My coaches help and even my players help,” Humphrey said. “They’ve taught me the little things that have helped me gotten these awards and helped me get the points I have with all their hard work.”Humphrey’s 30 points put her fourth in the Big Ten.Her next biggest test will be squaring off against All-Big Ten performer Audra Heilman, a senior forward for Indiana. Heilman is fifth in the conference in points with 29, and fourth in the conference with 12 goals on the season.Wilkinson said one of the keys against Indiana will be playing a complete game of field hockey against a team notorious for playing its best late in the game.“It’s gonna be that we need to be able to play consistent field hockey for 70 minutes first, and be able to play 70 minutes strong no matter what,” Wilkinson said. “Indiana’s a team that usually plays well in the second half. We need to be able to compete for 70 minutes.”OSU is then set to return home Sunday to play host to No. 12 Iowa at noon.Iowa boasts the Big Ten’s leader in goals (16) and points (37), Natalie Cafone. The junior forward from Fairfield, N.J., averaged 2.48 points per game in her sophomore season to lead the country.In her junior campaign, she is besting that mark, averaging 2.85 points per game. Cafone poses a major risk to the Buckeyes’ defense, but OSU’s freshman goalie Liz Tamburro has been under fire before.She leads the conference with 90 saves on the season, and it will be up to her to deny Cafone around the front of the net.With six of nine Big Ten teams ranked in the top 20 nationally, the season has become a grind for OSU, Humphrey said, but she added the Buckeyes like it that way.“It shows that we have a lot of competition nationally,” Humphrey said. “And we’ve played a lot of tough teams. We’ve been right there with them, so hopefully we can just finish it now in the next four games.”Those four matchups are the only games remaining on OSU’s regular season schedule.
OSU redshirt junior wide receiver Parris Campbell (21) jukes a Scarlet player during the 2017 Spring Game at Ohio Stadium on April 15, 2017. Credit: Mason Swires | Assistant Photo EditorWhen the wide receivers met with their position coach, Zach Smith, and the rest of the offensive coaching staff in the offseason between the Fiesta Bowl and the start of spring camp, they knew things had to change.Following Saturday’s spring game where the top five wideouts reeled in 24 catches for 327 yards and four touchdowns, it appears that the unit has been resurrected for the time being.But it remains a priority for the offense moving into summer workouts and fall camp.“I saw some guys, some receivers really step up and make some nice plays,” OSU coach Urban Meyer said Saturday postgame.Redshirt junior Parris Campbell grabbed five receptions for 46 yards in one quarter of play, redshirt sophomore K.J. Hill had six receptions for 62 yards, redshirt junior Terry McLaurin scored twice with 80 yards on four catches, and redshirt junior Johnnie Dixon led the team with six catches for 108 yards and two scores.OSU’s passing struggles last season were most evident when the lights were brightest, throwing for an average of 112 yards in the final three games. Redshirt senior quarterback J.T. Barrett ranked 55th in passing efficiency in 2016, while the team was 81st in passing yards per game with 213.9. Barrett said after the spring game that with a group of experienced receivers this coming season, the mindset has changed.“Now, I think we’re at the point where we have older guys in that room now just understanding what we’re trying to do offensively,” he said. “I think a lot of times … you’re just like, ‘I have my route, I see my coverage and then that’s it.’ But now really understanding what we’re trying to do on offense with certain plays and who’s going to get open and be able to help those guys — help each other in that room — not just saying (it’s) just me getting the ball.”OSU’s new offensive coordinators, Kevin Wilson and Ryan Day, unleashed the passing game in Saturday’s annual Scarlet-Gray spring game. The quarterbacks threw for 654 yards with seven touchdowns to one interception. While that’s the start the two wanted, the receiving unit had a similarly strong showing in the 2016 annual team scrimmage that didn’t carry over to the real stage and often floundered even more in crucial moments. Now that the receiving corps has its base to build on, the rest of the offseason up until Aug. 31 in Bloomington, Indiana, will be dedicated to continuing to return to the electrifying offense OSU had in 2014, when the Buckeyes averaged nearly 250 yards per game through the air.Barrett said now that the receivers have displayed their potential, it’s time for he and the receivers to polish the details.“I remember, for example, me and Noah (Brown) last year, we worked on back-shoulder fades all the time,” he said. “And then it came up in the game several times whether it be Oklahoma or it came up against Wisconsin (in) overtime. So those are the little things that you work on. Red-zone timing, because that’s when you really have time for that, but also too, that’s the little details that you need, especially in the red-zone area.”Dixon finally had his breakout game after missing nearly the entirety of the past three seasons, so his confidence in the wide receivers being showstoppers in 2017 might seem a bit skewed. However, Meyer will be looking closely at the unit to make that leap before August.“I think the unit, Zone 6, we can make a big impact,” Dixon said. “Right now, we just know we have to enhance everything because we felt like this spring, we’ve done so good. What we do, we just have to enhance it and keep going and get better.”
Then-junior Nick Gray will run the men’s 60-meter-dash, 200-meter-dash and 4×400-meter-relay this weekend at the Music City Challenge in Nashville, Tennessee. Credit: Courtesy of Ohio State AthleticsOhio State hosted its only home meet of the season Friday at French Field House.“It’s a special moment, being able to perform [at] home because we never get to,” sophomore sprinter Andre Jeff said. The Ohio State Buckeye Tune-Up hosted schools from Division I, II and III.Men’s recapSenior Nick Gray, coming off a new Ohio State 60-meter dash record that was set at last weeks meet at Clemson, finished first today in the 60-meter dash with a time of 6.74s. Jeff finished first in the 300-meter dash with a mark of 33.82. The Buckeyes took home first and second in the 600-meter run, with sophomore Tyrese Fajardo finishing with a time of 1:21.58 and senior Kyle McKinney following up with a time of 1:22.12. Junior Alexander Lomong placed first for the Buckeyes in the 800-meter run, with a mark of 1:53.18. Women’s recapSenior Sade Olatoye outdid herself once again, breaking her own Ohio State record in shot put with a throw of 17.73 meters. She took first in the shot put and placed second in weight throw with a throw of 23.24 meters. “I had a good mindset [going into the meet] and I was able to come out with a win,” Olatoye said. “It was our only home meet, so definitely tried to show the Bucks that we’re ready to go for Big Ten.”Sophomore Anavia Battle and senior Bliss Soleyn placed first and second in the 60-meter dash, consecutively. Battle ran a time of 7.32s and Soleyn with a time of 7.43s. Junior Alexus Pyles and freshman Britten Bowen finished the 60-meter hurdles in second and third. Pyles with a time of 8.41s and Bowen with a time of 8.57s. The Buckeyes will begin preparing for the Big Ten Indoor Track and Field Championships in Ann Arbor, Michigan Feb. 22 and 23.
Ohio State junior outfielder Dominic Canzone (33) celebrates with senior infielder Kobie Foppe (2) after a home run during the game against Michigan on April 12. Ohio State won 10-5. Credit: Casey Cascaldo | Photo EditorFour years ago, now-redshirt senior pitcher Thomas Waning was not wearing a scarlet and gray uniform. Instead, he was wearing navy in his redshirt season for Xavier. Waning and Ohio State (21-17, 4-5 Big Ten) cruised past Xavier (14-23, 5-1 Big East) by a score of 8-5. Big games from Waning and junior right fielder Dominic Canzone allowed for the Buckeyes to win their fifth game in the past six games. In his third year with the Buckeyes, Waning received his first start Tuesday, but he wasn’t slated to be the starter until a few hours before the game. “Mitch Milheim wasn’t able to pitch tonight. He’s actually in surgery for having his appendix removed,” head coach Greg Beals said.This forced the staff to call upon Waning. The right hander had logged 11.2 innings in 12 appearances for Ohio State on the season, but the nerves were still there for the redshirt senior. “[I was] a little nervous,” Waning said. “It’s been six years since I started, since high school.” Waning entered the contest with a 6.17 ERA and a 9-to-8 strikeout-to-walk ratio. The redshirt senior would not allow a baserunner through the first 3.2 innings of his start. He would finish the day with four scoreless innings pitched, the longest outing of his career, and one hit allowed in his first career win. “To get four from him was more than we expected,” Beals said. “Really happy for Thomas.” Canzone would electrify the game with both his fielding and hitting abilities. Defensively, the co-captain would lay out to record two catches in the outfield.“Those were huge for Thomas to settle in and not have to work with a man on base and under pressure,” Beals said. In the batter’s box, Canzone would emphatically increase his on-base streak to 34 games. With two outs in the second inning, Canzone launched a moonshot home run over the right field wall on his first pitch to extend the lead to three. “There are guys out there that have the ability to find the barrel of the bat, and Dom is certainly that guy,” Beals said. Canzone would record three hits and two runs on the game, bringing his batting average to .368 on the season. Senior left fielder Brady Cherry was able to launch a two-run home run over the left field wall later in the second.On the year, Canzone and Cherry have combined for 19 of the team’s 36 home runs this season.“For me and Cherry, I consider us leaders on this team,” Canzone said. “I just have a feeling that we can lead our team in every single game, and I just want to take as much pressure as I can off the other guys.” The Xavier pitching staff had been prone to allowing home runs all season, and Tuesday was no different. After allowing 47 coming into the game, the Musketeers were taken yard two times by the Ohio State bats. The Buckeyes jumped on the Musketeers early with an RBI single from junior first baseman Conner Pohl in the first inning. Redshirt sophomore designated hitter Brent Todys brought home the second run of the inning with a single to left-center field. Pohl earned his second RBI of the game and 26th of the year with his first-career triple. Sophomore catcher Dillon Dingler and freshman third baseman Zach Dezenzo would knock in the second and third runs of the fourth inning. The Buckeyes would do the bulk of their damage with two outs. With a .533 two-out batting average, Ohio State would scratch across seven runs with two outs. “It tells me something that the focus, the lock in, and the compete mode is strong,” Beals said. Cherry would try his hand at pitching for the fourth time this season, but a grand slam by senior shortstop Chris Givin capped off a five-run eighth inning for the Musketeers and the outing for Cherry. Junior pitcher Andrew Magno picked up his sixth save of the year. “Andrew is coming into himself. He’s always had great stuff,” Beals said. Ohio State will resume Big Ten play at 6:30 p.m. Friday against Maryland.
An NHS England spokesman, said: “Demand moderated somewhat last week, but A&E departments remain under pressure, with flu cases set to increase and norovirus still higher than last year.”As flu increases we would remind the public that if you’re otherwise healthy, usually you can manage flu symptoms yourself at home and there’s no need to see a GP. Most people feel better within a week.”On a single day, January 9th, 61 hospital trusts issued alerts, the highest number since a new system of Operational Pressures Escalation Levels was introduced.Norman Lamb, Liberal Democrat health spokesperson said: “This NHS winter crisis brings bad news day after day and patients are paying the price.“The Government are doing nothing to deal with it. I don’t know how bad the figures need to get for them to actually take action.”The figures show 15 NHS trusts have issued such alerts every single day from Jan 3 to Jan 13. They are:University Hospitals Of North Midlands NHS TrustEast Lancashire Hospitals NHS TrustLeeds Teaching Hospitals NHS TrustNorth Cumbria University Hospitals NHS TrustSt Helens And Knowsley Hospitals NHS TrustBuckinghamshire Healthcare NHS TrustDartford And Gravesham NHS TrustEast Sussex Healthcare NHS TrustIsle Of Wight NHS TrustMedway NHS Foundation TrustOxford University Hospitals NHS TrustRoyal Berkshire NHS Foundation TrustRoyal United Hospital Bath NHS Foundation TrustSurrey And Sussex Healthcare NHS TrustHospital trusts reported bed occupancy levels of 95.8 per cent – up from 94. per cent in the previous week.It comes despite repeated pleas from health officials to reduce capacity to levels of 85 per cent, in order to free beds for the most urgent cases. NHS trust have been ordered to suspend the vast majority of operations for at least a month as hospitals cope with what senior doctors have called the worst winter crisis in the history of the NHS.An NHS Improvement spokesperson said: “Despite dealing with record demand, compounded by high numbers of people with flu or vomiting, staff within the NHS are pulling out all the stops to provide the public with quick access to the highest quality care possible.“Even at this busy time for the NHS, almost nine out of ten patients who turn up to A&E departments are seen within four hours.“The NHS needs everyone to play their part by using alternatives to A&E departments where appropriate. This includes GP services, NHS 111 and local pharmacies.” Separate data suggests that almost every hospital in the UK is dangerously short of nurses.Staff said patients were being left unwashed, unmonitored and without crucial medications, amid a worsening crisis in the country’s hospitals.The analysis by Health Service Journal show 96 per cent of acute hospitals failed to provide the planned number of registered nurses to cover day shifts in October – the worst performance since analysis began in 2014.Nurses said they were working in “desperately unsafe” circumstances, with one saying she felt “sick to the stomach” at the risks being posed.The analysis by Health Service Journal tracked NHS data from 2014/15 to 2016/17.In total, 214 of 224 acute hospitals failed to fully fill their day shifts last October- a rate of 96 per cent – while while 190 (85 per cent) were understaffed at night. Both figures are the worst since tracking began in 2014.Nurses said they were being reduced to tears regularly, with one describing an “overwhelming feeling of sadness” at failing to deliver the care patients deserved. One of England’s most senior nurses said the pressures the NHS was under were the worst she had ever experienced.Ruth May, executive director at NHS Improvement – the health service watchdog – said: “We all know the NHS is dealing with intense pressure at the moment. It’s the toughest I have ever seen it.”Janet Davies, chief executive of the Royal College of Nursing, said: “This is yet more evidence that there are too few nurses caring for patients, putting people at serious risk.“There are already at least 24,000 nursing vacancies in the UK and it’s getting worse every single day.”The new figures also suggest healthcare assistants are routinely being employed to stand in for nurses. Research published in November found that patients are a fifth more likely to die in hospitals where nurses are replaced with less-qualified staff.A Department of Health spokesman said: “We expect all parts of the NHS to make sure they have the right staff, in the right place, at the right time to provide safe care — that’s why there are already almost 26,000 extra clinical staff, including almost 11,400 additional doctors and over 11,200 additional nurses on our wards since May 2010.”The trusts with the lowest percentage of nursing shifts filled:Dewsbury and District Hospital 75%Pontefract General Infirmary 77%Princess Alexandra Hospital, Harlow 77%University Hospital of North Tees 77%Royal Albert Edward infirmary, Wigan 79%Figures from NHS Choices, October 2016, analysis by Health Service Journal It’s the toughest I have ever seen itRuth May, executive director, NHS Improvement Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. NHS England has warned the health system is under strainCredit:Lynne Cameron/PA Wire New figures show a deepening winter crisis across the NHS with 52 Accident & Emergency departments ordering ambulances to be diverted to other hospitals.The record high comes despite a significant drop in the number of patients arriving at casualty units, following repeated advice to stay away unless need is severe. The figure is almost twice the 27 recorded in the same week last year. And 45 per cent of NHS trusts in England declared a major alert last week as services came under pressure.Sixty-eight trusts out of 152 raised the alarm at least once due to bed shortages and problems managing the flow of patients through A&E.The figure is a rise on the 65 issued the week before.Overall, NHS hospitals issued 294 operational alerts over the week from January 7 to 13, saying they were experiencing major pressures.Some 27 trusts issued an alert on every single day, while 15 NHS trusts have done so for 11 days in succession.Health officials said the figures could not be directly compared, as they had “toughened” up definitions so that more alerts were included in the latest statistics. Meanwhile bed occupancy continued to rise – despite a drop in A&E visits and in the number of patients admitted as an emergency. The number of A&E attendances dropped to 347,000, well down from 376,000 the week before. Weekly emergency admissions fell from 90,000 cases to 88,000.It comes as hospitals struggle to cope with rising cases of flu, and norovirus levels which are 75 per cent higher than last year.Figures for the week ending 15 January show 20.3 GP consultations for flu per 100,000 people.The previous week there were 18.8 cases of flu per 100,000 people, a steep rise from the 12 per 100,000 recorded in the week ending 1 January. One working in the south west of England said: “The most patients I have ever had is 16 on a night shift, I know for a fact that I did not do all the observations and can only hope that I did not cause anyone any real harm.”Another said: “Corners are cut and safety is compromised daily, we just do a really good job of covering it up”.An incident report disclosed one nurse left looking after 24 patients during 2015. The short-staffing left patients without care and medication, as unhappy relatives pleaded for help. The number of days patients are spending in hospitals due to so-called ‘bed blocking’ has risen 42 per centCredit:PA