Granger out 3 months; Pacers' loss could be Bulls' gain


Granger out 3 months; Pacers' loss could be Bulls' gain

The Chicago Bulls received a bit of good news today at the expense of the Pacers, as Indiana announced small forward Danny Granger will miss three months after receiving an injection in his left knee to treat patellar tendinosis.
Granger played in the Pacers' first two preseason games but complained of pain, and originally was told he could play through the pain and suffer no further damage.

The Pacers have struggled without their leading scorer from a year ago, starting the season 2-2 with wins over Toronto and Sacramento. The Pacers gave the Bobcats their first win in 24 games last Friday and were blown out by San Antonio, 101-79, on Monday.
Indiana will be forced to rely on Paul George, Gerald Green and Lance Stephenson on the wing in Granger's absence, while the Bulls all of a sudden find themselves in a much better situation at grabbing their third straight Central division title.
The Pacers are as deep a team as there is in the East, but they went 1-3 without Granger last season, including a 92-87 loss to the Derrick Rose-less Bulls in late April.
Granger will miss the teams' first meeting on Dec. 4 and again on Dec. 26 in Indiana, while the Bulls go at it without their own star in Rose.
The two teams meet twice in March, when Granger should be back in the Pacers' lineup. It's unknown when Rose will return, though a March return would be on course with speculative reports regarding his rehabilitation.
The Bucks, following wins over the Celtics and Cavaliers, lead the Central through the season's first week at 2-0.
The Bulls (3-1), Cavaliers (2-2) and Pacers (2-2) trail, while the Detroit Pistons (0-4) are one of two winless teams left in the NBA (Washington).

Illini's Malcolm Hill breaks backboard with practice dunk


Illini's Malcolm Hill breaks backboard with practice dunk

One of John Groce's goals for his team this offseason was to improve the Illini's strength.

Things seem to be going nicely.

Malcolm Hill broke a backboard in the Illini's practice gym on Monday, and there's photo evidence to prove it.

Take a look at these tweets from Hill and Illinois strength and conditioning coach Adam Fletcher.

Hill was already the team's best player in numerous facets. He led the Illini with 18.1 points and 3.3 assists per game and ranked second with 6.6 rebounds per game.

Now he's shattering glass with some mean slams. It could be a crazy senior year for Hill.

Bullpen's ridiculous performance bails out Cubs in win over Dodgers


Bullpen's ridiculous performance bails out Cubs in win over Dodgers

The Cubs' MLB-leading starting rotation has gotten plenty of buzz this season, but the bullpen had their breakout game on Memorial Day.

With Jason Hammel limited to only two innings because of hamstring cramping, the bullpen stepped up big time, setting down 25 straight in the Cubs' 2-0 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers in front of 41,470 fans at Wrigley Field.

Hammel allowed just a bloop single with two outs in the first inning on a ball that Ben Zobrist and Jason Heyward might have lost in the sun.

Hammel walked the next hitter, but no Dodger reached base after that.

Travis Wood was the standout performer from the bullpen, coming in on short notice in the third inning and tossing four perfect innings with four strikeouts.

Justin Grimm pitched a perfect seventh, Pedro Strop finished with a perfect eighth and Hector Rondon nailed down the ninth to close things out.

Wood picked up his third victory of the season, and Rondon is now 9-for-9 in save opportunities.

The Cubs got on the board in the fifth inning when Zobrist led off with a single and wound up on third after Dodgers right field Yasiel Puig booted the ball.

Heyward plated Zobrist on a 60-foot chopper down the first-base line, reaching safely for an infield single. He then came around to score the game's final run on Anthony Rizzo's double to right field two batters later.

The Cubs have won six straight games and send ace Jake Arrieta to the mound Tuesday night at Wrigley Field.

Cubs holding their breath as Jason Hammel forced to leave early with hamstring cramping


Cubs holding their breath as Jason Hammel forced to leave early with hamstring cramping

Before anybody really knew what happened, Jason Hammel was sitting on the ground behind the pitcher's mound at Wrigley Field surrounded by Cubs trainers and coaches.

The veteran starting pitcher had just come out to warm up for the top of the third inning after Hammel and Ben Zobrist struck out to strand the bases loaded for the Cubs in the bottom of the second.

He eventually got up and tried to throw a few more warmup pitches, but Cubs manager Joe Maddon and pitching coach Chris Bosio ultimately decided to roll with Travis Wood, removing Hammel from the game after only 39 pitches.

Two innings later, the Cubs announced Hammel was being evaluated for right hamstring cramping.

After two shutout innings Monday, Hammel now has a 2.09 ERA and 1.16 WHIP on the season and has been a revelation in helping the Cubs to the best starting rotation in baseball slotting behind Jake Arrieta, Jon Lester and John Lackey.

Hammel was pitching at an All-Star level (2.89 ERA) before running into a leg injury in early July last season. He was never the same after, posting a 5.03 ERA in his final 15 starts.

Over the winter, the 33-year-old Hammel responded by shedding some weight and rededicating himself to a training regimen designed to help take some pressure off his lower body.

If Hammel is forced to miss any time, the Cubs have Adam Warren, Trevor Cahill and Wood as options to jump into the starting rotation.