Thunder's Maynor, back from ACL injury, has advice for Rose

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Thunder's Maynor, back from ACL injury, has advice for Rose

Another Bulls preseason game, another young point guard that, like Derrick Rose, is recovering from an ACL surgery. Actually, Oklahoma City backup Eric Maynora starter in place of All-Star Russell Westbrook in Tuesdays contest; Westbrook and NBA scoring champion Kevin Durant each logged a DNP-CD, so Thunder head coach Scott Brooks could evaluate the rest of his rosteris technically recovered from his knee injury after missing almost all of last season.

Maynor, who was quietly regarded as one of the leagues top second-stringers at his position, suffered his torn ligament on Jan. 7 of last season against the Houston Rockets in the Thunders ninth game of the campaign. He became a forgotten man to many, as Oklahoma City made it to the NBA Finals, with veteran Derek Fisher filling in for him, but although he wasnt playing, Maynor was never out of the loop.

It was tough from the start of it because Ive never been hurt before, but I carried on and started getting better, day by day. I had to push myself every day to get back to where I wanted to be, explained Maynor, who is probably best known for hitting a dramatic shot to upset Duke when he played at pre-Final Four VCU. It was tough at first, getting back out there, even working out. Just not knowing if I could get the step back that I had and all the moves, the quickness.

I was away from the team for a little bit, then I couldnt stand it because I was at home, not doing anything, so then I started traveling with the team and I traveled for the rest of the year, he continued. That was really better because sometimes youll be at home and youre sitting there by yourself, just bored and thinking too much. When I got with my teammates, they were able to push me every day, whether we were at home or on the road.

Chimed in Brooks: Well, we kept him involved quite a bit. As soon as he was able to travel, he was traveling with us. He was at every shootaround, every meeting, every film session, and I had myself and the assistant coaches always talk to him.

I always had him tell me about the game, give me kind of like a verbal scouting report of what he thought of the game, what he thought of the players, what he thought we could have done better and I also had him give me a few plays to draw up. I used a few of them; they didnt work too well, but he would come back the next game and try to give me some more, he added. Hes a thinking mans player. Hes a point guard that loves the game, hes cerebral. Thats how he has success in this league. Hes not going to blow by you and dunk over you. What hes going to do is hes going to outsmart you and hes done a great job with that.

While Maynor is a different player than Rose, he has advice from his own experience that could apply to the Bulls superstar.

With me, it took time and everybody that Ive talked to that had the injury, you could say this and say that, but its different when you get out there and start going up and down, especially against the best players in the world. I think its different with me because I was never speed, speed, speed, speed. Its like Im back to where I was, but D-Rose, hes fast all the time, so hes going to have to work to get that back, but I know hes going to keep working and hell be straight, said Maynor, who added that he hasnt been in contact with either Rose or Minnesota point guard Ricky Rubio, another young floor general working through the same injury. Theres going to be good days, theres going to be bad days, but you just have to keep working throughout all of it.

Thats the thing: You dont want to rush anything, so I would advise both of those guys to make sure youre ready to come back, he went on to say. Now I feel good playing.

Brooks said that only last month was he positive that Maynor was back to his old self, but since then, hes been just as confident in the savvy point guard as he was in the past,

Hes done a great job with his rehab, with our medical team and hes put the time in. I knew he was back in September, when he started to play pickup games, he explained. The next step was to play five-on-five. Once I saw that, I knew that it was just getting some of the rust off his game and thats moving along pretty good.

You have to fight through every day. You cant take days off, you cant get down on yourself or down on the situation. You have to continue to fight with a good, positive attitude and thats what Eric has done, and from what I understand, thats what Derrick is doing also. It comes back. Eric hasnt lost any of his quickness or strength. I never had an ACL injury, but thats probably one of the things as an athlete, you fear youre not going to be the same. But you will be the same with the work that you put in, with the type of care that players have. You will be the same, if not better.

Durant, friends with Rose since they won a gold medal in the 2010 FIBA World Championships, also shared his opinion.

I havent talked to him, but people that I know him, I just told them that I know hes going to get back stronger and better. Ive been praying for him, of course. Ive been watching the videos online, so Im sure hes going to have a really nice comeback year for the Bulls and be at full strength, he said. I think hell be better with all that weight training hes been doing to strengthen his body and his core. Hes doing everything that he needs to do.

Thunder reserve DeAndre Ligginsa Chicago native who attended Washington High School and lost to Rose in the 2007 city title gameexpressed a similar sentiment.

I know hes a competitive guy and hes trying to get back as quickly as he can. Hes a humble dude and a great ballplayer. I just hope he gets back well and continues to be great in the NBA, he told CSNChicago.com. Derricks going to be back pretty quickly because I know how hard hes trying to get back and I know his rehab is very aggressive, so I know hes a competitive guy and he wants to get back to prove himself again.

Cubs remember Dallas Green's impact on Wrigley Field

Cubs remember Dallas Green's impact on Wrigley Field

MESA, Ariz. — Dallas Green pictured what the Cubs have now become, striking gold in the draft, swinging big deals and pushing to modernize Wrigley Field. The Plan, The Foundation for Sustained Success, all those buzzwords had parallels to the 1980s franchise built in Green's image.

Green — a larger-than-life presence in some of baseball's most intense markets — died Wednesday at the age of 82 after a colorful career and a battle with kidney disease.

Green spent 46 years with the Philadelphia Phillies, guiding them to the 1980 World Series title and working at virtually every level of the organization. Green also pitched eight seasons in the big leagues and managed both the New York Mets and Yankees. But Green clearly raised expectations in Chicago, where he drew up the rough blueprint the Theo Epstein regime would follow 30 years later.

"Absolutely, there's no question," bench coach Dave Martinez said. "He had a vision. He was trying to build an organization from within."

Green took over baseball operations on the North Side and made a franchise-altering trade in 1982, using his Philadelphia connections to steal future Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg and Larry Bowa for Ivan de Jesus.

Green's scouting department would draft Greg Maddux, Rafael Palmeiro, Mark Grace and Shawon Dunston. Trading for Rick Sutcliffe in the middle of the 1984 season led to the club's first playoff appearance since the 1945 World Series. Signing Andre Dawson to the blank-check contract helped fuel a 93-win season in 1989.

[CUBS TICKETS: Get your seats right here]

Green had already been fired after repeated clashes with Tribune Co. bosses and a last-place finish in 1987. The force of Green's personality also helped the Cubs finally install lights at Wrigley Field in 1988.

"What a good baseball man," said Martinez, who got drafted by the Cubs in 1983 and lasted 16 seasons in the big leagues. "He could be hard, at times, but you respected that from him. He gave me and a bunch of other players I came up with the chance to play. And I can honestly say he really loved all of us kids. He thought at one point that we were going to be something special — if we would have stayed together.

"We thought we would be there together for a long time. It didn't work out that way, but he knew talent."

Even before this generation of Cubs executives traded for Jake Arrieta and Addison Russell — and drafted Kris Bryant and Kyle Schwarber — general manager Jed Hoyer understood the challenge Green undertook.

"When we first got to Chicago," Hoyer said, "you look back and think about what other times in the history of the Cubs did people try to do something similar to what we were doing. Really, him taking over in the 80s and building the '84 team is probably the most similar when you look at it. Some of those great trades that he made — those gutsy trades that he made — are pretty similar in a lot of ways.

"Were it not for a couple big breaks, they might have been able to end the curse a lot earlier."

Bulls beat lifeless Pistons

Bulls beat lifeless Pistons

The Pistons looked to the worst possible matchup on the worst night of the season for the Bulls, as they were light at the center position and facing Andre Drummond, a man who has given the Bulls the business during their better days.

But the Pistons seemed to be the best opponent on the second night of a back-to-back, as they seemed dispirited and dead-legged, with the Bulls taking full advantage in their 117-95 win at the United Center Wednesday night.

The win ties the two rivals with 34-38 records, looking on the outside in at the Eastern Conference playoff race with 10 games left.

Both came into the game smarting from road losses the night before, with the Pistons falling to the lowly Brooklyn Nets at the buzzer in Brooklyn and the Bulls losing a 15-point fourth quarter lead to the Raptors, dropping the contest in overtime.

There would be no such suspense on this night, as the Pistons offered little resistance and seemed to be a bit lifeless for most of the evening, despite the prodding from coach Stan Van Gundy.

With Robin Lopez out with a suspension stemming from Tuesday's swing-and-miss exercise with Serge Ibaka and Cristiano Felicio being out with a lower back injury, Drummond was expected to dominate, already having three 20-20 games against the Bulls on his ledger.

He grabbed 17 rebounds but only scored eight points as the Pistons shot 44 percent from the field. The Pistons' only signs of life came from Stanley Johnson (12 points) and Jon Leuer (13 points), who came off the bench in the late first quarter and early second to bring the game to a two-point margin before the half at 55-53.

But the Bulls took the fight from the Pistons early in the second half and made their separation in the third quarter with a decisive 32-20 run, as Nikola Mirotic scored 12 of his season-high 28 points in the period, hitting 12 of 15 shots from the field.

Mirotic, if it carries over, could point to this game as the one that turned his season around at the right time. He was aggressive against Tobias Harris and hit four triples as the Bulls were nine of 20 from long range, proving they didn't have a hangover from their heartbreaker the night before.

Even without their lane cloggers, the Bulls lived in the paint, taking a 21-point lead due to scoring 48 points in the paint and moving the ball to the tune of 28 assists on their first 37 field goals.

Unlike the fourth quarter against the Raptors, the Bulls didn't have to worry about a late surge as the Pistons rested their regulars relatively early, waiving the white flag as the Bulls shot close to 60 percent.

Jimmy Butler was perfect from the field in 34 easy minutes, going six-for-six with 16 points, 12 assists and five rebounds. Rajon Rondo added nine assists of his own as he was the only starter who didn't reach double figures in scoring.

He didn't need to, as the game served as a confidence-builder for Mirotic, Bobby Portis and Joffrey Lauvergne, the man who started in Lopez's stead.

Although giving up plenty in size and skill to Drummond, he pulled him to the perimeter and even found gold inside to score 17 with seven rebounds in his best performance as a Bull since being involved in the trade involving Taj Gibson and Doug McDermott at the deadline.

If the Bulls play like this every night before April 12, they could find their way to the postseason, but if they played like this before tonight, a playoff spot would've already been assured.