Kobe calls for changes to the struggling Lakers

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Kobe calls for changes to the struggling Lakers

From Comcast SportsNetCHICAGO (AP) -- Kobe Bryant couldn't restrain himself after this one.It wasn't just that the Lakers lost again. It was how they did it, where they did it, and he was simply seething.He even put out a call to ditch Mike D'Antoni's up-tempo style and post up more after Pau Gasol got moved into a reserve role."We're going to have to look at some things," Bryant said after Los Angeles lost 95-83 at Chicago on Monday. "We're going to have to change something. Probably going to have to post the ball a lot more, slow the game down a lot more. That's just my intuition, but that's my gut right now. I have to take a look at the film again, but we're definitely going to have to change something."Kirk Hinrich scored a season-high 22 points, Marco Belinelli added 15 points, and the Bulls pulled away down the stretch to beat the struggling Lakers.Belinelli came up big in the closing minutes, scoring eight points during an 18-4 run that broke a 75-75 tie and sent the Lakers to their ninth loss in 11 games.He started it by hitting two free throws after getting fouled by Dwight Howard with 6:54 left in the game and wrapped two 3-pointers around a layup by Los Angeles' Earl Clark, making it 89-79 with 2:27 remaining.The Lakers have now dropped six straight on the road, and this one came after D'Antoni made that lineup switch. He replaced Gasol with Clark, but the slide continued on a night when Bryant and Howard were mostly nonfactors."Very, very tough, very, very frustrating, trying to keep my cool," Bryant said. "It is embarassing. It is not even embarassing. I am a big history guy. Playing here in this arena with these incredible fans, you're in the house of MJ, Pippen, PJ (Phil Jackson) built, to put this kind of brand of basketball on the floor is just not acceptable."Hinrich hit 9 of 11 shots and nailed three 3-pointers. Belinelli and Nate Robinson (11 points) also hit three, and the Bulls were 9 of 17 overall from long range.Joakim Noah added 13 rebounds and a season-best six blocks after sitting out the final 22 minutes, 53 seconds of Saturday's loss to Memphis. He blamed himself for the benching the other night, saying, "That was all me."Noah was angry at coach Tom Thibodeau for taking him out of the game and acknowledged saying some things he should not have. He wouldn't say if he and Thibodeau discussed the incident, but he made it clear he had no one to blame but himself."I admit it," he said. "It was my fault. I shouldn't have said the things that I said."Carlos Boozer chipped in with 14 points and six rebounds. Richard Hamilton scored 13, although he shot just 6 of 18. Jimmy Butler, making his second straight start with Luol Deng (sore right hamstring) sidelined, scored 10 while trying to guard Bryant. And Chicago won this one in regulation after playing three straight overtime games.Steve Nash led the Lakers with 18 points, but Bryant finished with just 16 on 7-of-22 shooting. That ended a run of 24 games with 20 or more points."Most of the looks I had tonight were tough shots," Bryant said. "Some of the credit goes to the young fellow, Butler did a good defensively. A lot of that is on me and us, having to try to manufacture something 30 feet from the hoop with a low shot clock is tough."Howard, meanwhile, had just eight points and nine rebounds while picking up five fouls. Clark and Metta World Peace scored 12 apiece, and Gasol added 15 points and 12 rebounds in his new reserve role.D'Antoni made the switch because he wanted a quicker lineup. Even so, it was an eye-opening move, considering Gasol scored 25 at Toronto on Sunday."It isn't against him, it's better for us right now," D'Antoni said before the game. "We're going to try to work through it and see what we can do. Things do change, things happen, I can't see the future but we're ready to go forward."Clearly, Gasol wasn't thrilled by the switch. He said he's "not excited" about it, and the move caught him off guard. He's not sure about his future in Los Angeles, either."I have no idea," he said. "I can't really worry about something that is out of my hands so I am just going to stay positive and do my best, but it is not something I am too thrilled about. I wasn't expecting it. But right now we have bigger things to worry about as a group. As a team player that's what I'm most concern about."NOTES:Thibodeau said star PG Derrick Rose is "very close" to starting full contact drills in practice, the next step in his recovery from a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. Could it happen this week? "Yeah -- it could," Thibodeau said. Is it scheduled to happen this week? Thibodeau said, "It could." He also said Rose will have to go through full-contact drills "for an extended amount of time" and that he won't be playing after "one or two days of contact."

As Arrieta garners all the fanfare, Jon Lester keeps cruising along in Cubs win

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As Arrieta garners all the fanfare, Jon Lester keeps cruising along in Cubs win

Jake Arrieta is getting all the attention on the Cubs pitching staff, but don't sleep on Jon Lester.

As Arrieta defends his supernatural stat lines, Lester has looked every bit the $155 million starter this season.

The veteran left-hander turned in another gem Friday in the Cubs' 6-1 victory over the Atlanta Braves in front of 34,007 fans at a frigid Wrigley Field.

Lester allowed only one run in seven innings, striking out 10.

He got himself into a major jam in the seventh when he gave up a single and a walk and then couldn't get a handle on a bunt (or didn't want to risk a throw to first), loading the bases with nobody out. But he struck out the next two batters and got Nick Markakis to ground out to Anthony Rizzo at first base to end the threat.

For the first time in his career, Lester has notched five straight quality starts to begin a season and now has a 1.83 ERA and 0.93 WHIP in 2016.

Lester has gone at least seven innings and given up exactly one earned run in four of his five starts this season.

The Cubs couldn't get him a win, however, putting up just one run through seven innings against the Braves pitching staff. This just hours after talking about how this lineup is built to generate offense even in cold, miserable conditions.

But the bats came alive late when Rizzo broke the tie with an RBI single in the eighth and then Matt Szczur followed with his first career grand slam.

Pedro Strop picked up the win with a perfect eighth and Hector Rondon pitched a scoreless ninth to slam the door on the Cubs' fourth straight victory.

Cubs fans regulate on rapper Warren G for his rendition of 'Take Me Out to the Ball Game'

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Cubs fans regulate on rapper Warren G for his rendition of 'Take Me Out to the Ball Game'

Cubs fans may have witnessed one of the quickest seventh inning stretches ever performed at Wrigley Field on Friday.

Rapper Warren G, famous for his 1994 hit song "Regulate", yelled "Cubbie fans mount up!" and then sang "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" during the Cubs-Braves game. The results were ... interesting, to say the least. 

Cubs fans were not having it.

Watch the full stretch in the video above.

One year later, White Sox recall baseball's most surreal game

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One year later, White Sox recall baseball's most surreal game

BALTIMORE -- One year ago, three days of civil unrest and confusion resulted in the White Sox playing in one of the more bizarre games in major league history.

After city-wide riots in the wake of Freddie Gray’s death resulted in a city-wide curfew as well, the calling of the National Guard and two cancelled games, the White Sox and Baltimore Orioles became the first teams in Major League History to play a contest that was closed to the public.

No fans were allowed inside Oriole Park at Camden Yards, which provided a surreal backdrop that Wednesday afternoon as the Orioles crushed the White Sox 8-2.

Whether it was the lack of background noise, the audible cheers of a group of several dozen fans outside the park or the idea that baseball was played in a city where so much remained uncertain, with armed guardsmen stationed just outside the park, players involved have very distinct memories of what would have normally been a nondescript contest.

“You could hear everything,” said pitcher Carlos Rodon, who pitched a scoreless ninth inning in only the second appearance of his big league career. “I remember listening to Adam Jones out in the outfield, just like calling his own game out there like he was the umpire.

“Just real quiet. Almost like backyard baseball.”

White Sox outfielder Adam Eaton remembers he felt conflicted about playing. The White Sox had arrived in town late Sunday night, only a day after unrest outside the ballpark resulted in a smashed window at one of the venue’s restaurants.

While the area around the ballpark and Baltimore’s Inner Harbor had quieted down by Monday morning, events began to reignite that afternoon about 4-5 miles from Camden Yards.

By the time players hit the field for stretch and batting practice, police helicopters could be seen hovering in the background, sirens blared everywhere and Eaton remembers he could smell smoke from some of the fires that had been set. Monday’s game was quickly cancelled and players were ushered back to their hotel by security personnel.

Stuck in their hotel, players remember seeing from their rooms the orange glow of some of the more than 200 fires set to structures and vehicles. They awoke the next morning to the arrival Maryland Army National Guard trucks, whose armed troops lined the Inner Harbor and key points around the city.

By early Tuesday, officials from both teams tried to determine what to do. Whereas most games’ start times are determined by either the home team, umpires or MLB, this time the White Sox were also included in the process. The teams considered several options, including moving the series to Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. Various start times and scenarios were also also considered for the game’s start to avoid playing after the 10 p.m. EST curfew was put in place.

“We kind of looked if we wanted to play in Chicago, play here and if there was a way to avoid coming back and doing another trip,” White Sox traveling secretary Ed Cassin said. “This was kind of a special case. There was a lot of people involved.”

Manager Robin Ventura was involved in the process so he could give his players an idea of what to expect. What stands out to Ventura is how nobody made their way to the ballpark on Tuesday to check into the clubhouse or workout, etc.

Instead, players stayed in their hotel rooms and watched movies or played video games, just waiting on word of the next step.

“As a major league player or staff, you never go that many days without getting on the field, especially during the season,” Ventura said. “You didn’t do anything. You kind of just watched the news to see what was going on. That part was eerie in a way because nobody goes through that. Last time something like that was 9/11.”

Ultimately, the decision was made to play Wednesday afternoon and make up the other games in a May 29 doubleheader. While pregame activities weren’t out of the ordinary, everything changed once the game began. Players took the field for the national anthem and found the park to be empty aside from several scouts in the stands. Orioles players faked flipping balls to fans in the stands, high fiving fans and signing autographs.

But everything else was dead silent save for the crack of the bat, balls hitting the catcher’s mitt and the sound of Orioles announcer Gary Thorne booming from the announcer’s booth above when Chris Davis blasted a three-run homer in the first off Jeff Samardzija.

“We were here, it got canceled, and the next day we were like, ‘Hey we’re canceled,’” Eaton said. “Are we going to fly back tonight? Are we going to go tomorrow? What do we do? Do we play the third game?

“Not that we didn’t feel right playing, but to be honest, we didn’t feel right playing at the time because there were lives on the line and being were rioting, a lot of chaos going on in the city. But as a professional, you had to sit back and say, my job is to go out and play baseball today, and that’s what I’ve got to do in any circumstance, and that’s what we did.

“It was just super weird.”