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 no-hitter drama lasted about two minutes on Thursday afternoon at Wrigley Field. Milwaukee Brewers leadoff guy Jonathan Villar made contact with Jake Arrieta’s fifth pitch (95 mph) and knocked it into left field for a soft broken-bat single. The Cubs wouldn’t have any Johnny Vander Meer flashbacks.
Arrieta still continued to press his case to be a repeat Cy Young Award winner, a Game 1 starter in the playoffs and the recipient of a seven-year megadeal worth somewhere north of $200 million. But so much can happen between now and the end of the 2017 season, which means the Cubs have to maximize this two-year window to win a World Series with Arrieta.
Speaking in full paragraphs at his locker for almost 15 minutes on Tuesday, Arrieta had already answered and dismissed the questions about performance-enhancing drugs and his metamorphosis into one of the game’s best pitchers.
The muted clubhouse TVs showing ESPN and MLB Network still had the talking heads running with that chemistry debate for the next two days. To be honest, on some level it felt like Arrieta enjoyed the attention and wanted to get this off his chest.
One week after no-hitting the Cincinnati Reds, Arrieta responded with a low-stress 7-2 victory over the Brewers. This felt like a total mismatch, Arrieta vs. a rebuilding Milwaukee team that is so much closer to the beginning of a five-year rebuilding plan than the end. Ryan Braun – an admitted PED user – got the boos before his at-bats at Wrigley Field.
The Cubs only needed Arrieta (5-0, 1.00 ERA) to throw 92 pitches and pulled him for pinch-hitter Jorge Soler with a four-run lead and runners on the corners in the fifth inning, trying to play the long game.
The front office and coaching staff obviously won’t root against a no-hitter, but that 16-0 victory over the Cincinnati Reds was exactly the kind of situation the Cubs outlined in spring training, how they didn’t need to ride Arrieta so hard and could keep him fresh for October after throwing almost 250 innings last year.
Arrieta – who gave up one run across five innings – saw the end of his consecutive quality-starts streak (24) and scoreless-innings run at Wrigley Field (52.2). The Cubs have still won his last 18 regular-season starts and don’t expect anything to throw their ace off his game.
Arrieta got ready for the biggest start of his life – last year’s National League wild-card game – by trolling Pittsburgh Pirates fans on Twitter and telling them the blackout atmosphere at PNC Park “doesn’t matter.”
Arrieta has become a fashion model, signing endorsement deals with SAXX underwear and the Mizzen+Main clothing line. He says he finds the PED accusations to be “flattering.”
If the Cubs keep up this best-in-baseball pace (16-5), Jake will become a legend in Chicago.
“I haven’t seen him change a bit,” said manager Joe Maddon, who last year compared Arrieta to a male Jane Fonda. “He really handles those particular moments when he’s confronted really well, because he’s very matter of fact.
“He’s very self-confident. He knows who he is. So when he answers the questions, he can answer them in a genuine manner and feel really good about himself.
“Wouldn’t we all like to be like that? It’s a pretty good way to live. And I think he’s got it down. He takes care of everything about himself. So I’m all about Jake. We all are. We support everything he does and says.”
John Goossens endured a hectic March.
On top of signing a new contract with a new team in a new country and league, the Chicago Fire midfielder had to travel back to his home country, The Netherlands, to get his visa. The long transatlantic trip forced Goossens to miss the season opener.
In the next match in Orlando, Goossens started and earned an assist on a long clearance that David Accam ran onto and scored for the Fire's only goal in a 1-1 draw. He went 73 minutes in that match, still his longest appearance of the season.
In Goossens' first home match against Columbus, a hamstring injury forced him to leave the match at halftime. The injury didn't cause Goossens to miss any games, but it did hamper his fitness and limited his minutes. He was already catching up after joining the team in the middle of the preseason and then missed the opener.
“It was a tough month for me," Goossens said. "I had some traveling back home for my visa and it was hard. I had some problems. I was in Orlando, I start feeling the hamstring and then in the game against Columbus at home after 45 minutes it was better to stop because I had too much problems with it."
After the Columbus match on March 19, an off weekend due to an international window gave Goossens time to recover, but he came off the bench the next two matches. He started the match against Montreal on April 16, his first start since the injury, and played 58 minutes. Despite coming off early, Goossens said he felt fully fit.
The midfielder drew some attention after a spectacular long-distance volley goal in a preseason scrimmage against the University of Portland. He finished with two goals and an assist in five preseason matches and appeared to be a solid candidate to replace Harry Shipp as an attacking midfielder for the Fire.
However, he hasn't had the influence on matches that he would like to so far.
“I can do way better,” Goossens said. “I think it’s for the whole team. We are not happy with the results. We are working really hard for it. You just need wins to be satisfied. For me personally I have to do better and I’m working on it everyday. In my opinion if you work hard everyday the good moments will come to you so we will see.”
Goossens said he has had little trouble settling in with the team and to the league, but admitted the long travel is something that takes getting used to. In the Dutch Eredivisie, where Goossens started his career, the only long flights would be for European competition, which Goossens has never played in. In May the Fire will have road trips to Vancouver, New York Red Bulls and New England in a span of eight days and the team will stay on the road for the duration of the trip.
“I have to get used to it, the flights and things like that," Goossens said. "It’s hard, but since the day I came here you know about it and you have to prepare yourself for it. Until now I feel fine. It’s going to be a really long season. Somewhere in the summer, August or September, there will be a point that you start to get tired, but it’s mentally. It’s our job, we have to take care of it. You have to take care of yourself and your body.
"For me it feels like a big adventure. It’s going to be hard, but it’s going to be fine. I really enjoy and I’m having fun, that’s the most important thing.”
Hey, Clark the Cub is wearing pants!
That was my first reaction when I saw the get-up for the Cubs mascot Thursday. OK, technically a onesie isn't "pants," but it's close enough.
As Arrieta took the mound for the Cubs in his first start since his second career no-hitter, Clark showed his support with the same onesie:
BEARrieta - Get it?
For reference, here's Jake's onesie from Los Angeles last August:
We're not even going to get into the beard or why a bear with fur covering its face would need - or even have - a beard.
This has been your pointless Chicago sports news of the day. Back to regularly scheduled programming.