From Comcast SportsNetLOS ANGELES (AP) -- Jamal Crawford led a dominant performance by the Los Angeles reserves with 22 points, and the Clippers beat the Denver Nuggets 112-100 on Tuesday night, extending their franchise-record winning streak to 14 games.Matt Barnes added 20 points -- one off his season high -- as the bench outscored the Clippers starters 64-48 in claiming the NBA's best record at 22-6, one win better than Oklahoma City which lost to Miami earlier Tuesday.Kosta Koufos and Jordan Hamilton scored 16 points each for Denver in the finale of a Christmas Day doubleheader at Staples Center. The Lakers, who will play the Nuggets on Wednesday night in Denver, beat the Knicks 100-94 in the first game.Ty Lawson added 15 points for the Nuggets, who fell to 7-13 on the road, where 22 of their first 32 games are being played.Crawford's 3-pointer to open the fourth quarter pushed the Clippers' lead to 20 points and kept the starters on the bench for the final 12 minutes. Crawford scored eight points in the quarter.Chris Paul led Los Angeles starters with 14 points; Blake Griffin had 13; and Willie Green 11.Heat 103, Thunder 97MIAMI (AP) -- LeBron James finished with 29 points, nine assists and eight rebounds, Dwyane Wade scored 21, and Miami survived a frantic finish to beat Oklahoma City in an NBA Finals rematch.Mario Chalmers scored a season-high 20 for the Heat, who matched the franchise's best 25-game start at 19-6. Chris Bosh added 16 for Miami, which has beaten the Thunder five straight times going back to last June's title series.Kevin Durant scored 33 points and Russell Westbrook added 21 for Oklahoma City, but both Thunder stars missed potentially game-tying 3-point attempts in the final seconds. Serge Ibaka and Kevin Martin each added 15 for the Thunder, who have dropped two straight for the first time this season.The Heat went 19 for 19 from the foul line, the second-best effort in franchise history.Lakers 100, Knicks 94LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Kobe Bryant engineered a second-half comeback, helping Los Angeles beat New York and extend its winning streak to five.Bryant scored 34 points in his NBA-record 15th Christmas Day game, and Metta World Peace added 20 points and seven rebounds while defending Carmelo Anthony, whose 34 points led the Knicks. Bryant, the league's leading scorer, has topped 30 in nine straight games.The Lakers improved to 14-14 -- 9-9 under new coach Mike D'Antoni -- and upped their holiday record to 21-18, including 13-9 at home.The Knicks controlled most of the game behind Anthony and J.R. Smith, who had 24 points. But they struggled offensively in the fourth, when Anthony was limited to seven points, and Smith had five.Smith's 3-pointer pulled New York to 96-94. After Pau Gasol made one of two free throws, Smith missed another 3 that would have tied the game with 32 seconds left.Steve Nash had 16 points, 11 assists and six rebounds in his second game in nearly two months. He missed 24 games while recovering from a small fracture in his lower left leg. Dwight Howard had 14 points and 12 rebounds, and Gasol had 13 points and eight rebounds.Celtics 93, Nets 76NEW YORK (AP) -- Rajon Rondo scored 19 points in his first full game against Brooklyn this season, and Boston beat the Nets in another game with heated moments between the division rivals.Rondo, sidelined in the first meeting and thrown out of the second after shoving Nets forward Kris Humphries into the courtside seats, outplayed counterpart Deron Williams and helped the Celtics take control early.Rookie Jared Sullinger tied a career high with 16 points, and Jeff Green had 15 for the Celtics (14-13), who avoided falling under .500 with their second victory in six games.Gerald Wallace and Brook Lopez each scored 15 for the Nets, who have lost four of five.The Celtics took control with a 23-5 run in the second quarter. They had 11 assists on 13 baskets and outscored the Nets 34-18 in the period.A month after the teams scuffled in Boston, there was another skirmish in the fourth quarter that resulted in four technical fouls.Williams had only 10 points on 3-of-7 shooting, and Joe Johnson, his partner in a high-priced backcourt, shot 4 of 14 for his 12 points.Boston's Kevin Garnett had eight points and 10 rebounds on the day he tied Charles Oakley for 15th place on the NBA's career list with his 1,282nd game.Rockets 120, Bulls 97CHICAGO (AP) -- James Harden scored 26 points and Jeremy Lin added 20 points and 11 assists to lead Houston over Chicago. Omer Asik had 20 points and 18 rebounds in his first trip back to Chicago since signing with the Rockets in the offseason.Every Rockets starter scored in double figures. Chandler Parsons added 23 points and Marcus Morris had 10 for Houston, which has won six of seven.The Rockets had been 3-7 on the road, but a strong second quarter turned the holiday matchup into a blowout. The Rockets outscored the Bulls 31-19 in the period to break the game open.Lin capped a 14-2 run midway through the quarter with a drive and a layup to make it 55-34. He scored 12 in the second quarter and Harden had 13.Houston led 58-41 at halftime.Nate Robinson led the Bulls with 27 points, and Marco Belinelli scored 15. The points allowed and margin of defeat were season-worsts for Chicago.
The two fastballs that soared to the backstop on Wednesday night should give you a strong indication that Carlos Rodon was far from perfect.
But in making his first start of the 2017 season, the White Sox pitcher also offered his team plenty of signals that his health isn’t going to be an issue.
Rodon returned to the mound for the first time since last September and brought the goods that made him one of baseball’s top pitching prospects several years ago. Given he’d missed three months with bursitis in the left shoulder and the potential value he offers to a franchise only half a season into its first rebuild in 20 years, that was plenty for the White Sox to overlook the rust Rodon showed in a 12-3 White Sox loss to the New York Yankees at Guaranteed Rate Field.
“He started a little rough early obviously, got some high pitch counts,” manager Rick Renteria said. “And then he kind of settled down.
“Having him back in the rotation and getting him back out there on the big league field, coming out of there feeling good, healthy. I'm sure he will continue to get better as he continues to get out there and move forward.”
Renteria said he wasn’t surprised that Rodon struggled with his command as much as he did against the Yankees. The issues the pitcher displayed in uncorking a pair of wild pitches, walking six batters and throwing strikes on only 41 of 94 pitches were also present during Rodon’s four rehab starts in the minors.
But as long as the stuff was there, the White Sox would be OK with any issues that accompanied the performance. Rodon began to alleviate those concerns immediately when he earned a called strike on the game’s first pitch with a 93-mph fastball to Brett Gardner. Featuring a four-seamer with an absurd amount of movement and a nasty slider he struggled to control, Rodon checked all the boxes the White Sox hoped for from a pitcher they believe will be a frontline starter for years to come. Rodon also was pleased by how he felt before, during and after the contest.
“I was pretty excited,” Rodon said. “I was going a little fast in the first. But it was good to be out there. Next time out, it’ll hopefully be a little better. Arm feels good, body feels good, all you can ask for.”
Well, it’s not ALL you can ask for, but it’s pretty damn good out of the gate given how slow Rodon’s return took. His four-seam fastball averaged 94.9 mph according to BrooksBaseball.Net and touched 97 mph. His two-seamer averaged 94.4 mph and touched 95. And his slider, though he couldn’t control it, nor locate it for a strike, averaged 86 mph.
“You could see (Omar Narvaez) going over to try to catch some balls that were having tremendous run,” Renteria said. “That's (Rodon). He's got some tremendous life, he's just trying to harness it the best that he can and being able to execute where he wants to get as many strikes as possible.”
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The strikes were about the only thing Rodon didn’t bring with him. He walked Gardner to start the game and issued two more free passes after a Tim Anderson error allowed a run to score and extended the first inning. Rodon threw 37 pitches in the first, only 15 for strikes.
He also reached a full count to each of the batters he faced in the second inning. Rodon walked two more with two outs in the third inning after he’d retired six batters in a row.
And there were those pesky first-inning wild pitches that resembled something out of ‘Bull Durham.’
But all in all, Rodon and the White Sox ultimately saw enough in the first outing to be pleased.
“Great stuff, great life, but the goal is to put it in the zone and let them swing it to get guys out early,” Rodon said. “That’s not what happened. I’ll get back to that.”
“It’s a tough loss, but it’s better to be with the guys out on the field grinding than sitting on the couch and watching, for sure.”