Anthony Davis finds out his likely NBA home


Anthony Davis finds out his likely NBA home

From Comcast SportsNet
NEW YORK (AP) -- After a painful wait for a new owner, the search for a new star was a breeze for the New Orleans Hornets. All it took was a little luck of the draw. And Anthony Davis can't wait to play as a pro in the city where he won a championship in college. The Hornets, recently sold by the NBA to Saints owner Tom Benson, won the league's draft lottery Wednesday and the No. 1 pick overall -- which they almost certainly will use to select the consensus college player of the year who led Kentucky to a national title. He could be joined by another young piece, as the Hornets also have the No. 10 pick. "I'm excited for our fans, especially those people who hung in there with us," said coach Monty Williams, who represented the Hornets on stage and insisted his team keep playing hard as its difficult season was ending, even though it could have hurt its chances of landing a high pick. "I'm excited for the Benson family. They bought this organization without knowing what pick we were going to have. And yet I'm mindful of all the work that is going to have to be done for us to be a good team. You can't skip those steps. ... Those two young guys can't help us become a championship team overnight. We've got to address a lot of issues." So do the Charlotte Bobcats, who added one more loss to a historic season full of them. Michael Jordan's team had the best shot at the No. 1 pick after the worst season in NBA history, but instead fell to the No. 2 spot. No such disappointment for the Hornets, whose good fortune comes after a difficult season in which they traded All-Star Chris Paul and a couple of years in limbo where they couldn't do much to upgrade the roster while the league was looking for a buyer. "Just a first step for us to winning it all," Benson said in a TV interview after the lottery. The Hornets moved up from the fourth spot, where they had a 13.7 percent chance, to earn the pick. "Everything was surreal once they announced the fourth pick," Williams said. "I said This is pretty cool.' I knew my wife and kids were home praying that things would go well and they did." The Bobcats had a 25 percent chance of grabbing the No. 1 pick after going 7-59, lowest winning percentage in NBA history. Instead they will have to take the best player after Davis, possibly his teammate, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. Washington will pick third and Cleveland fell one spot to fourth. The team with the worst record hasn't won since Orlando drafted Dwight Howard in 2004. "We will still take the best player available and when you win seven games you have a lot of holes," Bobcats general manager Rich Cho said. "From a competitive standpoint and for anyone who has played sports or been competitive, you want to win and be No. 1. We know we're still going to get a good player." Cho and team vice chairman Curtis Polk said shortly after the results they hadn't heard from Jordan, the Bobcats owner. "Being No. 2 isn't terrible. We'll be fine," Polk said. The league bought the Hornets from financially struggling owner George Shinn in December 2010 and the sale to Benson was completed in April. In between, the NBA was criticized for the conflict of interest of a league owning a franchise, particularly when Commissioner David Stern blocked a trade that would have sent Paul to the Lakers in December, then approved another that landed Paul with the Clippers. The ownership uncertainty hindered the Hornets, but they were in a celebrating mood Wednesday after earning the No. 1 pick for the first time since 1991, when they were still in Charlotte and took Larry Johnson. General manager Dell Demps said he pumped his fist in the room where the drawing took place after seeing that the balls had been drawn in the Hornets' favor. "When our combination came up, it was an exciting feeling," he said. "I got an incredible rush. ... We knew what the odds were. We hoped for the best. It was nothing we could control. We're just happy." The Hornets finished 21-45, winning eight of their final 13 games with a young roster. Williams and his players felt it would be wrong to do anything but try to win down the stretch, and they were rewarded. "Obviously, we're very excited," Demps said. "This is a great day for the city of New Orleans, our fans. ... This is the start of a new beginning." Though they didn't officially say it, it's expected to start with Davis. One of the most dominant defensive college players in years, he earned Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four even as he went 1 for 10 from the field in the championship game. He blocked a record-tying six shots and had 16 rebounds and three steals in the Wildcats' 67-59 victory over Kansas. "Davis is not LeBron. He's not Tim (Duncan). But they were young once and Tim had four years of college," Williams said. The Nets were the other big loser when they stayed in the No. 6 spot. They owed their pick to Portland for this season's Gerald Wallace trade unless they moved into the top three. The Cavs beat the odds last year and moved up to take Kyrie Irving, the eventual Rookie of the Year, and tried to follow the same formula. Nick Gilbert, the 15-year-old son of owner Dan Gilbert, was back on the podium in his bow tie, and the Cavs' traveling party that included Dan Gilbert, and former Browns quarterback Bernie Kosar and current Browns players Josh Cribbs and Joe Haden sported the same dress. But there was no repeat, as the Cavs went backward this time. "Still feel very good about (number)4 pick," Dan Gilbert wrote on his Twitter page. "We are getting a great player there and good additions wour other 3 picks. I believe." Sacramento rounds out the top five of the draft, to be held June 28 in Newark, N.J. The Golden State Warriors stayed at No. 7, meaning they get to keep their pick instead of having to trade it to Utah. The Trail Blazers also will have two lottery selections, the Nets' and their own at No. 11.

Jon Lester says Cubs haven’t done anything yet: ‘Nobody likes second place’

Jon Lester says Cubs haven’t done anything yet: ‘Nobody likes second place’

As Cubs players and generations of fans celebrated Christmas in October, Jon Lester had to be The Grinch for a moment. Sure, the Cubs would party from Saturday night into Sunday morning, probably get “a little bit” drunk and enjoy the franchise’s first National League pennant in 71 years. But the reality of the Cleveland Indians would set in once the Cubs got rid of this hangover.

“We ain’t done anything yet,” Lester said during the Wrigley Field celebration after the Cubs eliminated the Los Angeles Dodgers. “Nobody likes second place.”

There are enough Boston Red Sox connections in this World Series that Lester already knows what to expect, starting with Indians manager Terry Francona, who became a father figure as he dealt with a cancer scare as a rookie.

There are ex-teammates from those championship teams in 2007 (Coco Crisp) and 2013 (Mike Napoli, Andrew Miller) at Fenway Park. There is the accumulated experience from throwing 119 postseason innings (2.50 ERA) and becoming one of the best big-game pitchers of his generation.

“I don’t want to sound like a smart-ass, but we got a long ways to go,” Lester said. “I know that manager on their side’s going to be prepared. I know their coaching staff’s going to be ready. I know their players are going to be ready, just based on one player alone, and that’s Mike Napoli. I know what he brings to the table. He helped transform our 2013 team.

“Come Tuesday, we got to put the gloves back on. We got to get ready to fight and grind and do what we’ve done well all year. We got four more games to win.”

After limiting the Dodgers to two runs in 13 innings, and being named the NL Championship Series’ co-MVP along with Javier Baez, Lester should be a worthy Game 1 starter opposite Corey Kluber, the 2014 American League Cy Young Award winner.

This is why Lester took a leap of faith with Cubs bosses/ex-Red Sox executives Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer and chairman Tom Ricketts’ family and what had been a last-place team in 2014.

Two seasons into the $155 million contract that signaled the Cubs would be serious about contending – and not just in the Baseball America/Baseball Prospectus prospect rankings – the franchise has won 200 games and four playoff rounds and remained in position to dominate for years to come.

“Theo and Jed and the front office and Tom and all these guys had a belief,” Lester said. “I believed in that belief. The talent here speaks for itself. I didn’t do anything – I came here because I wanted to win in Chicago. I’m just happy to be here and be a part of this and get to this point.

“(But) we’re four hard wins away from doing what we set out to do in spring training.”

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As bright as the future looks on the North Side, Lester will be 33 next season and his left arm has already accounted for more than 2,000 innings during his decorated career. John Lackey turned 38 on Sunday. Jake Arrieta only has one more season before becoming a free agent.

The Cubs built their franchise around young hitters, with the idea that they can figure out the pitching later with free agents, change-of-scenery trades and bounce-back guys. Easier said than done. They have a true No. 1 starter now in Lester, who as a free agent watched a recruiting video that imagined what it would be like when the Cubs win the World Series.

“This isn’t it,” Lester said. “It’s been a tough playoffs for us to this point and it’s only going to get tougher. We’re going to enjoy it. We’re going to show up Tuesday in Cleveland ready to play. We’ll see what happens.”

Three quick fixes for some Bears woes while searching for a turnaround

Three quick fixes for some Bears woes while searching for a turnaround

Positives were difficult to find in last Thursday’s 26-10 loss to the Green Bay Packers. So maybe the place to look for improvement lies in just getting rid of a few negatives.

As far as positives, Leonard Floyd would be the obvious one, with two sacks, one a strip and fumble recovery for a TD. Ka’Deem Carey would be another, with 10 carries for 48 yards, his second straight game with high-impact running; Jordan Howard has been shackled for two weeks, so the Bears have needed another backfield-committee member contributing. Jeremy Langford may have trouble finding work when he comes back from his ankle injury.

But negatives have far outweighed positives, which is how you get to 1-6. Fixing three of those will go a long way toward improving their chances against a Minnesota Vikings team that appeared eminently beatable in losing at Philadelphia on Sunday:

Stop the penalty hemorrhaging

For the third straight game the Bears had 10 penalties walked off against them. This "streak" started after eight infractions in the win over Detroit. The 10 in Green Bay cost the Bears 108 yards in a game where their offense netted just 189. Seven of the penalties were charged to the defense, six of which gave the Packers first downs.

The three offensive penalties were mental. A wide receiver (Alshon Jeffery) lined up offsides. The quarterback (Matt Barkley) drew a delay flag. An offensive lineman (Ted Larsen) was illegally downfield.

All of which point to a discipline problem getting worse, not better. Whether the fault lies with players losing focus or coaches not instilling a mindset is a debate, but meaningless if the problem is not addressed. “There were a lot of penalties out there,” said cornerback De’Vante Bausby, who committed three of those penalties. “We had a good scheme and plan but we just didn’t finish in the second half as a group.”

Stop the dinking

While Brian Hoyer replacing Jay Cutler scaled back the downfield element of the offense, the loss of an emerging Kevin White should not be understated. The de facto rookie may not have gotten in the end zone but he was leading the team in receptions before he suffered a broken leg in the win over Detroit.

Since the loss of White, however, the offense has shrunk. The Bears averaged 7.5 yards per pass attempt through four games with White. Without White the average is 7.0, and that is including the blip in Indianapolis, which stands as a complete anomaly. The average was 5.9 in the Jacksonville loss and 5.0 in Green Bay.

Hoyer’s ball-security orientation has been a positive, but also a limiting factor. Cutler last year had one of the best ball-security seasons of his career, yet the offense was able to average 7.5 yards per attempt.

The Bears scored two of their three rushing touchdowns in games with White, who may not yet be the field-stretcher his 4.35 speed but the prospect of White arguably made for a more threatening offense than even with the contributions of Cam Meredith.

Stop the Vikings

The Minnesota Vikings have suffered injuries at a rate like the Bears’ but have overcome them. Until Sunday in Philadelphia, when the Eagles sacked Sam Bradford six times and hit him more than a dozen other times. The Vikings never sacked Carson Wentz, who wasn’t special but was good enough while Minnesota was self-destructing.

The Vikings have beaten the Bears the last three times they’ve met, the first time that’s happened since 1999 and 2000, which is also the last time the Bears started 1-6. And the Bears have lost three straight.

The Bears were able to end the first three-game skid by focusing on one game: the Lions. The result was shutting down a very good offense, the lowest yardage-allowed (263) of the season and the firmest commitment to the run game (29) attempts.

Morale inside the locker room can only be revived by a win. One game. This game.