Belinelli's big night has ripple effect


Belinelli's big night has ripple effect

CLEVELANDThis is how you know Marco Belinelli had a good night Tuesday: Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau subbed out Luol Deng, in the first quarter, in order to leave Belinelli, who scored 12 in the opening period and 23 on the evening, in the game.Marco, I thought, had a pretty good rhythm going and he had the hot hand, so we went the other way on that, Thibodeau said of his decision to put reserve swingman Jimmy Butler in the game for Deng, the NBAs minutes-per-game leader entering the evening, instead of Belinelli. I thought Marco was terrific.Hes been playing well. He had extended minutes, that was the biggest difference. I thought he played hard. He scored different ways, he got to the free-throw line, posted up, catch-and-shoot and I thought his teammates were searching him out, too, which was playing smart. You want to have a balance. You want to be inside-out, so we wanted to get our ball movement going. So, we felt that was the most important thing and hes a very good catch-and-shoot player, so we tried to play off that some, continued the coach, before delving into why he believed the Italian free-agent acquisition would eventually break out of his early-season slump. Because of what hes done in the league. You have an idea because hes already proven that, so you know that its a matter of time and I think that each day and each game hes gotten more comfortable, so I thought he played very, very well.Belinellis teammates also never wavered about the backup shooting guards ability, despite his woes in adjusting to a new system.I think it was huge. Even in the beginning of the year, hes somebody who works really hard on his game and never got discouraged, kept playing hard and you see that as a player, Joakim Noah said. As somebody whos passionate about the game, Im happy that its paying off for him.Deng added: Its really good. Marco played great tonight. First quarter, came out, he was aggressive, stayed aggressive, made some big plays. But we knew Marco could play. Hes been struggling a little bit finding his rhythm and hopefully this will help him find his rhythm until Rip comes back.When he comes off the bench, hell be comfortable with what hes doing and now hes getting more minutes.Belinelli himself attempted to deflect all the attention he was getting and instead focused on the team getting back to winning.It was a good game for us, he said. I think we played a great first quarter and we played together on offense and defense. I think thats whats important, especially after the game yesterday. It was a tough loss for us, so winning a game like tonight was important for everybody.It was good tonight, Belinelli continued. My teammates were ready to find me, so that was good. Just continuing this way. Its important for us to play together like tonight, run on fast breaks, try to score each basket and play good defense.I think it was important for me, he went on to say. First of all, just working, working and working.New team, new organization for us, for me especially, so just be ready to play, be aggressive every time. Thats the way that weve got to play. Tough, tough, tough.As for Deng, he still ended up logging over 42 minutes of playing time, but the All-Star felt that the early breather helped him, especially coming in a back-to-back contest. A 22-point scorer on the night, the ironman used his rare time on the sidelines to crack wise.When I went and sat on the bench, watching the game, I just told the guys, So this is what you all do at this time? No, but it was cool, he said. I think Coach realized that it was a tough game last night, I played a lot of minutes and quick turnaround. So, he realized that, gave me a quick rest early and that actually helped me a lot.

Cubs announce lineup for Game 1 of the World Series...and yes Kyle Schwarber is in it

Cubs announce lineup for Game 1 of the World Series...and yes Kyle Schwarber is in it

CLEVELAND - Kyle Schwarber is in the Cubs starting lineup for the first time since April 7.

It just so happens to also be the Cubs' first World Series starting lineup since 1945.

The Cubs released Joe Maddon's Game 1 lineup against Corey Kluber and the Cleveland Indians Tuesday afternoon ahead of a historic World Series matchup.

Schwarber is hitting fifth at DH:

1. Dexter Fowler - CF
2. Kris Bryant - 3B
3. Anthony Rizzo - 1B
4. Ben Zobrist - LF
5. Kyle Schwarber - DH
6. Javy Baez - 2B
7. Chris Coghlan - RF
8. Addison Russell - SS
9. David Ross - C

And Jon Lester is on the mound.

Schwarber is already the Cubs' all-time leader in postseason homers with five longballs in last season's playoff run.

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Coghlan in the lineup is also a surprise as defensive stalwart Jason Heyward gets the boot to the bench for the second straight game.

The Cubs put Albert Almora Jr. in right field at Wrigley Saturady night when they beat Clayton Kershaw and locked up the NLCs.

Heyward is hitting .071 with a .312 OPS in the postseason, collecting only two hits and a walk in 10 games.

Coghlan has appeared in five games - all as a pinch-hitter - and is 0-for-4 with a walk and a run. 

The Cubs have scored 23 runs in the last three games after being shut out in 21 straight innings prior to that.

Cubs' Javy Baez, Indians' Francisco Lindor cross paths again, this time at World Series

Cubs' Javy Baez, Indians' Francisco Lindor cross paths again, this time at World Series

CLEVELAND -- Francisco Lindor and Javy Baez have always traveled a similar path, from Puerto Rico to Florida to being selected one pick apart in the 2011 amateur draft.

The young star infielders will take another monumental step together on Tuesday night when they square off in the World Series.

Baez has been a breakout star this season for the Cubs, who return to the Fall Classic on Tuesday night after a 71-year absence against Lindor and the Cleveland Indians. 

A first-time All-Star in 2016 and runner-up for the 2015 American League Rookie of the Year award, Lindor said he and Baez, whose families once celebrated Thanksgiving together, reflected upon the significance of the moment over the weekend.

“He texted me after he won and said, ‘Hey man, is this a dream?’” Lindor said. “I said, ‘Yeah, I think it is because I haven’t woke up yet.’ I’m excited.”

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Baez and Lindor, the Indians’ shortstop for the past two seasons, grew up 20 miles apart in Puerto Rico and knew of each other. Both moved to Florida — about 160 miles apart — where their paths crossed again in high school and travel baseball games. Their proximity to one another got even closer when in 2011 the Indians selected Lindor with the eighth overall pick of the draft and the Cubs grabbed Baez with the ninth pick.

Lindor said Monday that their two families celebrated Thanksgiving together about a year after that with Baez’s family hosting the event. There was food and ping pong — Lindor said each player won a few games — and a good time was had by all.

“It was cool,” Lindor said. “His family made food and my mom brought something over and we just chilled. We ate, we had fun --- it was cool man. It was fun. That’s what kids do.”

Now those same youngsters are set to oppose each other in baseball’s most prestigious event. Not only that, both men’s franchises are attempting to snap lengthy World Series droughts and Baez and Lindor, who each have played starring roles this October, could potentially play big roles in their teams’ fortunes. Lindor said he can’t wait to get to shortstop and engage in some friendly banter with his longtime friend.

“Just like regular athletes we’re very competitive,” Lindor said. “We’re going to enjoy the game. But at the same time he likes to enjoy the game and that’s how I am too. You’ll see us whenever he’s at second base and I’m in the dugout -- you’ll see us saying stuff to each other and throughout the game. It’s fun. I’m really excited and can’t wait to go out there and play against him.

“I’m happy for him, happy for his family because he deserves it. All the things he has done, I’m super happy for him. I can’t wait to go out there and have fun. I just want to see him and give him a hug and say congrats.”