Predicting the East and West All-Star rosters

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Predicting the East and West All-Star rosters

In a few hours this will be moot, but with Thursday evening's announcement of the NBA All-Star Game reserves, below are CSNChicago.com's picks.
Keep in mind, these aren't predictions, just this writer's opinion on which players are deserving of the honor.
Eastern Conference reserves
Chris Bosh, Miami: Due to playing alongside East starters LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, Bosh often gets overlooked, but is an important piece on the defending-champion Miami, again the conference's top team.
Tyson Chandler, New York: The league's reigning Defensive Player of the Year has helped transform New York into a more defensive-oriented squad, while also contributing as an efficient offensive option.
Luol Deng, Chicago: Deng's recent injury might give coaches an excuse not to select him, but his consistency as a go-to scorer and workhorse is a huge reason Chicago is in the upper echelon of the East's standings.
Paul George, Indiana: The athletic swingman is experiencing a breakout season on both sides of the ball, picking up the slack from the sidelined Danny Granger as Indiana's alpha dog.
Jrue Holiday, Philadelphia: Although Philadelphia has struggled as of late, Holiday has emerged as one of the league's top-tier point guards.
Brandon Jennings, Milwaukee: Jennings is the best player on a surprisingly successful Milwaukee team, which has thrived under interim head coach Jim Boylan thus far.
Joakim Noah, Chicago: Observers have taken notice of Noah's offensive development, ability to handle a heavier workload and defensive presence, all of which have been integral to Chicago's early-season success.
Alternates
Brook Lopez, Brooklyn: It's tough to keep a Brooklyn player off the initial roster, but although the center has had a solid season, with fans voting in an undeserving Kevin Garnett as a starter, Lopez likely gets the short end of the stick.
Josh Smith, Atlanta: The combination of Atlanta's current slump and the versatile forward's recent one-game suspension could be the tie-breaker in ensuring he's snubbed for yet another year.
Snubs
Carlos Boozer, Chicago: The much-maligned power forward has been dominant in January, but his superb stretch likely occurred too late to send him to Houston next month.
Kyrie Irving, Cleveland: The second-year point guard is already an elite player at his position, but in addition to a chunk of games missed due to various injuries, Cleveland's dismal record is too much to ignore.
Western Conference reserves
LaMarcus Aldridge, Portland: Portland has cooled off as of late, but the underrated Aldridge has established himself as one of the league's best power forwards.
Tim Duncan, San Antonio: Aside from the flashback season Duncan's having, the future Hall of Famer is showing that he's still one of the premier big men in the league on a nightly basis.
James Harden, Houston: Harden has proven that he's worthy of all the fuss that occurred when he was traded to Houston at the beginning of the regular season, earning the right to represent the host city as one of the game's top scorers.
David Lee, Golden State: The Warriors have had a resurgence that's heavily based on improved defense and while Lee will never be regarded as a great player on that side of the ball, he's come to be viewed as a blue-collar type and the player most responsible for the squad's turnaround.
Tony Parker, San Antonio: Parker continues to quietly be the best player for an aging San Antonio team, as well as one of the league's top-five floor generals.
Zach Randolph, Memphis: Now healthy after missing most of last season due to injury, Randolph's blend of hard-nosed low-post scoring and dominance on the boards symbolizes Memphis' approach.
Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City: Playing in the shadow of three-time defending scoring champion Kevin Durant, the point guard is almost equally responsible for Oklahoma City maintaining its high standard of play after Harden's departure.
Alternates
Stephen Curry, Golden State: The oft-injured point guard is finally healthy, but as much as the sharpshooter has been praised for his impact on his team's turnaround, it would be hard to put two Warriors on the roster.
Marc Gasol, Memphis: In a similar situation, it would seem that only one of Gasol and Randolph will make the trip to Houston, and while the true center is clearly one of the best at a dying position, Randolph's elite rebounding gives him the edge.
Snubs
Jamal Crawford, Los Angeles: The early-season favorite for the league's Sixth Man of the Year is also his team's leading scorer, but his defensive shortcomings and the Clippers' array of weapons takes away from his influence on their success.
Serge Ibaka, Oklahoma City: Ibaka's impact on the defensive end has never been questioned, but while his improvement as a scorer has been remarkable, in a conference loaded with excellent big men, it would be hard to justify his selection.

David Accam is back and that's good for the Fire

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David Accam is back and that's good for the Fire

David Accam is the Chicago Fire's best player and when he plays the team is better.

While that statement should be obvious to anyone who has watched the Fire on a regular basis this year, it is worth mentioning because of how much time Accam has missed this season.

Accam played a starring role in the team's 4-3 loss in the season opener. He had a goal and an assist. The next match he scored early in Orlando before the Fire were forced to defend while playing down a man due to a red card.

Then he got injured. Accam missed six games and the Fire scored four goals in those matches without him. After making two abbreviated appearances during the team's recent road trip, he was unable to play last week at home due to a suspension.

“It’s difficult for me because I’ve been through a lot in the last two months," Accam said. "For me I’m just happy to be on the pitch now and playing. It will take some time for me to get into match fitness and start going, but I’m happy with my performance today.”

Accam scored in Saturday's 1-1 draw against Portland. It was his first start at home since his barnstorming season debut back on March 6. It was also his first 90-minute outing since March 11.

Kennedy Igboananike assisted on the goal. The partnership in the attack between Igboananike and Accam is one the Fire needs to become a fine-tuned weapon for the team to have a successful season.

“I think what we are looking for is to have associations in the team and the two of them work very good together," coach Veljko Paunovic said. "We could see that in the first game when David was fit, also in the second game until we had the (red card). Since then David was injured, but David is very important. Not only because of his individual qualities, but he improves our team in how our team feels better on the field and offensively with more potential."

Accam had five shots, two on goal, and Igboananike had four shots, three on goal. Accam thinks the team is starting to improve its on-field chemistry.

“I think so, especially in the front three," the Ghanaian said. "We are creating chances. Last week we created a lot of chances and today, too.

“In the last two games we started to feel the way we wanted to play and for me it’s been much better. We conceded one goal in the last three games and we created I think more than five clear chances so for me it’s getting better.”

Fire unable to find winner in tie with Portland

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Fire unable to find winner in tie with Portland

Getting a second goal is becoming a thing for the Chicago Fire.

A thing they aren't getting.

The Fire pushed for a go-ahead second goal against Portland on Saturday, but it never came. The team's inability to find a second goal, something the team hasn't scored since the season opener, meant they had to settle for a 1-1 tie against the Timbers.

In a lot of ways, the Fire played better. They outshot Portland 17-8, 6-2 in shots on target, and in the second half had rare extended stretches of possession. But they were still not able to break a halftime deadlock.

"It was just that we didn’t score that second goal, which was very important for us," coach Veljko Paunovic said. "We are building the momentum. We were close to winning this game today and we are happy with the performance.”

The Fire (2-5-5, 11 points) are now 2-2-3 in seven home matches.

Portland (4-6-4, 16 points) took the lead in the 18th minute when Diego Valeri took advantage of a poor Rodrigo Ramos clearance. Ramos' ball got caught up in the wind and stayed near the box. Valeri won the ball back and beat Sean Johnson from a tight angle, sliding a shot just inside the far post.

Almost immediately the Fire leveled the match through David Accam. Accam, making his first home start since the season opener, redirected a Kennedy Igboananike centering pass to tie things back up.

“I know when he goes wide I need to be in the box," Accam said. "I know he has a good left foot also to put that ball in the box so I was in the right position when the ball came in.”

It was Accam's third goal of the season and his first since March 11. Accam and Igboananike created most of the dangerous chances for the Fire, linking up regularly other than the goal.

Another forward who could have joined the attack, Gilberto, was out for personal reasons. The Brazilian had played his best of the year last week.

The Fire had a strong wind at their backs in the second half and used it to keep the ball in Portland's half and extend the lead in shots they took into halftime. Despite being unable to get the win at home, multiple players claimed they are seeing progress in the team's performances.

"I think we’re finally putting full 90s together as a team," midfielder Matt Polster said. "I think during the beginning of the season we were getting used to each other. I think we put in good 65, 70 minutes of a game. As we’re growing as a team now I think we’re putting a full 90 together.”

Now the Fire go on break for the Copa America. The team will not train next week other than a fitness plan given to the players. The next match will be in the US Open Cup on June 15 with both location and opponent to be determined on June 1.

The next MLS match is June 18 at Philadelphia and the next MLS home match will be July 1 against San Jose.

Sale looks to stop the slide as White Sox face Royals on CSN

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Sale looks to stop the slide as White Sox face Royals on CSN

The White Sox take on the Kansas City Royals on Sunday, and you can catch all the action on Comcast SportsNet. Coverage begins with White Sox Pregame Live at 12:30 p.m. Be sure to stick around after the final out to get analysis and player reaction on White Sox Postgame Live.

Sunday’s starting pitching matchup: Chris Sale vs. Edison Volquez

Click here for a game preview to make sure you’re ready for the action.  

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