Knicks star hurts hand in postgame incident

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Knicks star hurts hand in postgame incident

From Comcast SportsNet
MIAMI (AP) -- Amare Stoudemire draped a towel over his left hand as he walked into the privacy of the New York Knicks' training room an hour after the game, needing a sanctuary from prying eyes. The specifics of what Stoudemire did immediately after Game 2 were unclear. Only this was certain: His hand was cut so severely that doctors and paramedics were summoned, drops of blood stained the carpet, a piece of glass in the door to a fire-extinguisher case needed to be replaced, and a bad night for the Knicks on the court got much worse when Stoudemire walked off it. Stoudemire's availability -- and New York's hopes -- for the rest of this Eastern Conference first-round series against the Miami Heat look bleak at best, first because the Knicks were beaten 104-94 on Monday night to fall into a 2-0 hole in the best-of-seven matchup, then because of whatever emotions boiled over near the locker room afterward. "I am so mad at myself right now, I want to apologize to the fans and my team, not proud of my actions, headed home for a new start," Stoudemire wrote on Twitter about two hours after the game. Game 3 is Thursday. Before the Knicks left the arena for the flight to New York, a team official said the extent of the injury is unknown. But in the locker room, Knicks center Tyson Chandler said he did not expect Stoudemire to be able to play when the series returns to Madison Square Garden. "I'm not going to comment until I see or hear what's going on with it," Knicks coach Mike Woodson said. Moments later, Woodson said he had seen the cut, then stopped short of saying anything else about what took place. "I'm not going to go there," Woodson said. So on their trip to Miami, the Knicks lost two games and two starters. Guard Iman Shumpert was lost for 6 to 8 months after tearing a knee ligament in Game 1, a freak play after a misstep. Stoudemire now appears gone as well, because of a mistake. "You never want to hear anyone gets hurt," said Miami guard Dwyane Wade, who led the Heat with 25 points. "Hopefully he gets better. We want all their guns on the court." Chris Bosh added 21 points and LeBron James finished with 19 points, nine assists and seven rebounds for the Heat, but their night was completely overshadowed by whatever went on with Stoudemire in the hallway that's just a few steps from the edge of the court. "I really don't know what's the situation with that," said Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony, who said he was "on the court" when whatever happened with Stoudemire occurred. Everything the Heat did seemed like old news quickly after the game, when all anyone really wanted to talk about was what was going on in the Knicks locker room. Miami-Dade paramedics -- who staff every game -- were summoned while reporters were kept outside much longer than the typical 10-minute cooling-off period. "We're all frustrated," Chandler said. Stoudemire declined to say anything when he walked out of the shower area in the locker room, one towel around his waist, another shielding his left hand. Almost forgotten: Miami had just sent New York to its NBA-record-tying 12th straight postseason loss. "This is a series," Chandler said. "We've got to go home win the next two and turn it into a best-of-three after that." Anthony scored 30 points on 12-for-26 shooting for New York, which got 18 points from Stoudemire and 13 apiece from Chandler and J.R. Smith. The only other team to lose 12 straight playoff games is the Memphis Grizzlies, who dropped their first dozen postseason contests from 2004 through 2006. New York's last postseason win came April 29, 2001. Mario Chalmers scored 13 points and Mike Miller and Shane Battier each shot 3 for 5 from 3-point range on their way to 11-point games for the defending East champion Heat, who shot 52 percent. "Every game we try to find our shooters, get them comfortable in the offense and once they catch them, they can let it fly," James said. "It was concerted effort tonight to get them the ball and move the ball from one side to the other." Baron Davis, who sat most of the first half and has been battling back issues, finished with 12 points for the Knicks. The Heat came into the game saying they expected Anthony to be much more aggressive. They were right. Anthony opened with an 11-shot quarter -- the last time someone took more in the first 12 minutes of a playoff game was May 15, 2006, when Richard Hamilton got 12 shots off for Detroit against Cleveland. Anthony missed all seven of the jumpers he took in Game 1 when guarded by James, then got his first one to fall on the game's first possession Monday. By halftime, Anthony was up to 21 points on 9-for-18 shooting, the Knicks needing all that and more. Wade, James and Bosh combined for 41 points in the first two quarters, helping Miami take a 53-47 lead. Unlike Game 1, it wasn't over by halftime. And play was heated, just not overheated. Well, until postgame, anyway. For nearly three quarters, whenever Miami was on the cusp of pulling away, New York had answers. Consecutive baskets by James midway through the third quarter, the second of those good enough for him to merit it worthy of a chest-bump and long look at the Knicks bench, put Miami up 67-56 -- then its biggest lead. Four minutes later, the Knicks were within four, a dunk by Chandler making it 72-68 with 1:37 left in the period. Miami's margin was back to nine after a flurry ended the third. James drove right and got just about every Knick to shift with him, leaving Battier all alone for a 3-pointer, and James' three-point play as the shot clock was running down had him laughing and the Heat up 78-69 going into the fourth. The Knicks never got any closer, and the Heat wound up holding serve at home. "We did what we're supposed to do," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "It's not anything more than that. We're already trying to leave this game behind." By then, word was just seeping out of what happened in the Knicks locker room. "Amare is a huge piece of this team," Chandler said. "And, you know, without him, it's going to make it more difficult." Notes: Knicks G Mike Bibby came out of one of his shoes during play early in the second quarter, then was miffed after Wade picked up the sneaker and tossed it out of his reach as New York took the ball into the offensive end. "I don't think many people have done that before," Wade said. ... Heat F Udonis Haslem bought tickets for relatives of Trayvon Martin, the Florida teen who was killed by a neighborhood watch volunteer in Sanford, Fla. on Feb. 26. ... Shumpert watched from the locker room. ... It's the first time the Heat have held a 2-0 series lead over the Knicks. All four previous matchups were split after the opening two games.

Cubs invest in bullpen and sign Pedro Strop to contract extension

Cubs invest in bullpen and sign Pedro Strop to contract extension

MESA, Ariz. — The Cubs invested in their bullpen and clubhouse on Friday, finalizing an extension with Pedro Strop before the start of Cactus League games.

The Cubs and Strop's camp kept negotiating after avoiding an arbitration hearing with a $5.5 million settlement for 2017 before camp opened in Arizona.

Strop — one of the National League's best setup guys and most popular players in the clubhouse — will earn $5.85 million in 2018 instead of testing the free-agent market. The Cubs now hold a $6.25 million club option for 2019 (or a $500,000 buyout).

Nick Schmaltz gaining confidence, effectiveness with Blackhawks

Nick Schmaltz gaining confidence, effectiveness with Blackhawks

Nick Schmaltz's game has made tremendous strides since he came back from Rockford. He's has the puck more. He's playing with more confidence. He's recognizing when to hold onto the puck and when to give it up. 

Now to improve in one other category.

"I've been telling myself that for years now to shoot the puck and I still don't do it enough," Schmaltz said with a little smile. "Definitely shoot more and just play my game."

That, like everything else, will come with confidence more play but there's no doubt Schmaltz is making a bigger impact these past few weeks. Schmaltz celebrated his 21st birthday on Thursday with another multi-point night, this time a goal and an assist in the Blackhawks' 6-3 victory over the Arizona Coyotes. The rookie is brimming with confidence as part of the Blackhawks' surging top line with Jonathan Toews and Richard Panik and has nine points over his last seven games.

For Schmaltz, every lessoned learned this season, including the ones from Rockford, has been put to good use the past few weeks.

"We're just having the puck more. That's my game. I like to have the puck, hold onto it and make plays," Schmaltz said. "I'm making more plays off the rush, in the zone. I'm definitely more accustomed to playing this style and hopefully we can keep it going because I know that's how the Blackhawks have played in the past. And it only helps our team game when every line is playing well."

The Blackhawks have developed a better four-line rotation and a big part of that is the chemistry Schmaltz, Toews and Panik have formed on that top line. Panik said he's seen the change in Schmaltz lately.

"I think he just holds onto the puck more," Panik said. "He doesn't give it up quickly and that's what he's good at, just possession with the puck and making a space for him and he finds me or Toews."

[RELATED: Nick Schmaltz shines on 21st birthday]

Coach Joel Quenneville was particularly complimentary of Schmaltz's game in Minnesota, which featured a "spectacular" pass to Toews on what was the captain's second goal of the night. 

"The one thing we want him to do is play with the puck, play to his strengths and have it. Now he wants it," Quenneville said. "He had the puck a lot [on Thursday], like he did in Minnesota. I just think he's improved his pace and his strength in the puck area is coming along. For young guys, that's always an area where you get better over your first few years. But the quickness and confidence with the puck is definitely more noticeable."

Sure, Schmaltz should shoot more. In his time with the Blackhawks Schmaltz has had two or fewer shots in all but one game (Nov. 23 vs. the San Jose Sharks). When he has shot lately it's led to good results. Sometimes the decision to shoot is easy — please see the 2-on-1 with him and Toews to start Thursday's game — but the Blackhawks want to see him take a few more chances.

"You're a young guy and sometimes you feel the need to move the puck a little bit but he rolled that half wall early in the Minnesota game and we kept saying, ‘Shoot the puck, think shot, think shot,'" Quenneville said. "I think that will open up his other options and all of a sudden they're going to have to respect him coming out of those tight areas with a quick snap shot in that area. He can work and get better in that area knowing, get a little more comfortable with it, snapping it."

The Blackhawks have shown steady improvement this season. The same goes for Schmaltz. The start of the season was a little rough and not surprisingly so; the transition from college to pro isn't easy. But Schmaltz is now looking like he belongs here, and he wants to keep building.

"I feel I'm playing at a high level, where I need to be. But I can't get happy or complacent in my game," Schmaltz said. "I have to keep working and keep that level as high as possible."