76ers teammates Allen, Wayns have long-term connection

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76ers teammates Allen, Wayns have long-term connection

One started at center for the 76ers, scoring 10 points and pulling down eight rebounds in 33 minutes of action in the teams loss to the Bulls. The other is Philadelphias backup point guard and scored a modest two points in just over nine minutes of playing time Saturday night at the United Center.
But second-year big man Lavoy Allen and rookie point guard Maalik Wayns are more than just Sixers teammates. The duo has known each other for years, having been in the same Philly basketball circles since they were teenagersthey even played for the same AAU program, for the older brother of Toronto Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry, though in different age groupsand were college rivals in the historic Big Five, as Allen starred for Temple and Wayns played at Villanova.
Both have also had unconventional roads to their current positions in the league, with Allen being a second-round pick in 2011he played in France during the lockout and was thought to be a long shot to make the Sixers rosterand Wayns not even being drafted this past June, then using an impressive NBA summer-league outing in Orlando to find his way back to his hometown.
More importantly, both are in the rotation and play vital roles for Philadelphia.
Those two guys have done a good job for us, 76ers head coach Doug Collins said before Saturdays game. If you look at it, Lavoy was the 50th pick in the draft, I think was voted last year, at the start of the season, the worst player in the NBA by ESPN and we had him on the floor, in many instances playing against Kevin Garnett in the Eastern Conference semis, so he made a huge jump. Friday night had a good game for us, tonight we really count on him.
Maalik, undrafted. We think he brings speed, he can score, gives us some nice juice off the bench, so its nice, continued the former Bulls head coach, himself an Illinois native. Not only that, theyre great kids. They want to win and you said that they had the local ties, and they want to play for the team that they grew up watching, so its pretty fun.
Allen had his coming-out party in the playoffs, faring well against the Bulls and if not shutting down Garnett, a future Hall of Famer known for verbally abusing rookiesthat tactic didnt work with the 6-foot-9, well-built Allen, who has the same, laid-back demeanor on and off the courtat least making him work on both ends of the floor.
Asked about his playoff experience against the Bulls, the Bristol, Penn., product, who signed a multi-year contract extension over the summer, a reward for being such a pleasant surprise in his debut campaign, instead broke down the changes in the team.That was last year, so I dont really reflect on that. Whenever I go out there, I just try to play the best I can, he told CSNChicago.com. Without Derrick Rose? Less screen-and-rolls. Its more posting up, Rip or Luol or Carlos Boozer. More isolation plays.
Allen, having experienced both the joys and challenges associated with playing for ones hometown team, is able to counsel Wayns about some of those pitfalls. The stocky, quick, 6-foot-2 floor generalbuilt just like Lowry, his mentor and fellow ex-Villanova star, and equipped with a similar style of playhas earned a role backing up Jrue Holiday, one of the leagues rising young stars and a player Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau described as one of the games elite point guards, even prior to the contest.
Its great, man. Its an experience. Just being a Sixers' fan before it all and now, being able to play for the Philadelphia 76ers, its a great experience. Just taking it all in, he told CSNChicago.com. He dealt with the same situation last year. Being home and playing in the NBA for the first time, dealing with people, dealing with your family, dealing with ticket situations, so hes helped me a whole lot.
Joked Allen: Its being teammates with Wayns not really that fun at all, actually.
Its cool, just having somebody that I grew up around, went through the same stuff and same area, so Im happy for him. He made it, he continued. Its going to take a lot of rest with all these games. Even when youre not playing, stay in shape. You never know how many minutes youre going to play the next game.

Yoan Moncada 'relieved' to get first White Sox hit out of way

Yoan Moncada 'relieved' to get first White Sox hit out of way

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Yoan Moncada can’t complain much about his first hit with the White Sox.

Given all the elements, it rates about a 9 1/ 2 out of 10. Only a homer would have been better.

Baseball’s top prospect continues to look comfortable at the plate and in the field. Two days after he made his team debut, Moncada earned his first hit when he ripped a two-out, bases-loaded triple early in Friday night’s 7-6 loss to the Kansas City Royals. Moncada finished 1-for-4 with four RBIs.

“Once I got that first hit, I felt relieved,” Moncada said through an interpreter. “First, because it was the first one. And second because of the situation. It was a three RBIs triple. It was a very big moment of the game. I think that from now on I’m going to feel more relaxed and comfortable.”

Moncada has put together a series of good plate appearances in his first two games. He’s looked at ease while in the box and hasn’t panicked even when he gets behind in the count. Moncada said he felt even more comfortable when he stepped in to face Royals starter Ian Kennedy in the third inning. Not only was it his second time facing Kennedy, but Moncada sat in the on-deck circle as Matt Davidson drew a 10-pitch walk to load the bases with two outs.

Hitting left-handed, Moncada fell behind 0-2 in the count but Kennedy hung a 78-mph knuckle curve and the rookie lined it deep into the left-center field gap to clear the bases. Moncada not only showed his power, he also showed off his wheels: his 11.24 seconds from home to third was the fastest time by a White Sox player this season, according to MLB Statcast.

“He's seeing the ball,” manager Rick Renteria said. “He seems pretty calm, composed out there. It's just a couple of days, but in terms of how he's carrying himself, his body language, he seems to be transitioning pretty well up to this point, first couple of days.”

Moncada said Friday was much calmer than his Wednesday debut against the Los Angeles Dodgers when he drew a walk and went 0-for-2. The switch-hitting second baseman had an RBI groundout in his first at-bat Friday to give the White Sox a 1-0 lead. Then he stood in and tracked Kennedy with Davidson at the plate.

All in all, Moncada’s happy with how he’s executed his plan at the plate thus far. He said he choked up on the 0-2 pitch and put a good swing on it.

“That at-bat gave me more time to see in real life his pitches,” Moncada said. “I’ve been feeling very comfortable. In Chicago, that first game, it was a little bit nervous. But overall I feel very comfortable hitting and with my defense.”

Fire GM Nelson Rodriguez rings NASDAQ closing bell

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Chicago Fire

Fire GM Nelson Rodriguez rings NASDAQ closing bell

As part of the hype for the MLS All-Star Game, Fire general manager Nelson Rodriguez and a handful of Major League Soccer cohorts made a trip to New York on Friday.

Rodriguez rang NASDAQ's closing bell. The MLS All-Star Game will take place at Soldier Field on Aug. 2.

Check out the photos from the occasion.