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.

No need for Cubs to overreact when best years should be in front of Kris Bryant and Addison Russell

No need for Cubs to overreact when best years should be in front of Kris Bryant and Addison Russell

There’s no need to overreact when the injuries pile up and the Cubs lose 6-of-7 games in June, because Kris Bryant and Addison Russell are still possibly years away from their best seasons in an organization loaded with young talent.
 
Bryant and Russell have been such integral parts since debuting in April 2015 that it's hard to remember they're still around three-to-five years away from their prime. They're also in a perfect situation to keep developing, not having to worry about carrying the weight of the franchise on their shoulders, the way Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro used to feel those responsibilities.
 
The pressure is spread out among a young core, a battle-tested group of veterans and a manager that loves the spotlight. All of that can help explain why each player has avoided the dreaded "sophomore slump" that sometimes plagues second-year players in the big leagues.
 
"Last year, I thought both of them fought through some really different moments their first year up," Joe Maddon said. "And that's what it's really all about. The sophomore slump, for me, is where the league adjusts to you, and then you adjust back to the league. That's the definition."
 
Bryant currently has an OPS that’s 19 points higher than his 2015 numbers, while Russell's OPS is 23 points higher entering play Monday, and both second-year players have seen major improvement in important areas.
 
Bryant led the league with 199 strikeouts last season, but has seen his strikeout percentage drop from 30.6 percent to 23 percent this season. He's on track for about 162 strikeouts in 2016.
 
Russell, meanwhile, has experienced just an incremental decrease in strikeout percentage (from 28.5 to 27.2 percent), but he has seen a nice jump in walk rate (from 8 percent in 2015 to 11.2 percent this season). Despite drawing only one free pass in his last eight games, Russell is on track for 68 walks, which would've ranked 12th in the National League overall last season and first among shortstops. 
 
"The guys that don't adjust back quickly enough really have an extended period of negative moments," Maddon said. "I think they learned a lot last year. They made a lot of adjustments. Both of them made swing adjustments last year. And that, I think, is permitting their success this year.
 
"Addison's propensity to get big hits is unbelievable, and now he's using the whole field. He's not chasing balls out of the strike zone. Those are the adjustments he had to learn how to do last year when he was going badly, and now he's doing them.
 
"They're both going to hit a bad stretch, there's no question. But I think they're better able to handle that based on their experience from last year."
 
Bryant has settled in as one of the premier offensive threats in the game by following up his 2015 campaign (26 homers, 99 RBI) with a pace for 39 homers and 112 RBI.
 
In spring training, he said he considered 2016 an extension of his rookie season, just with a three-month break off in between. But as the regular season hit, he took that sort of thinking to another gear.
 
"I feel a lot more focused this whole year," Bryant said. "I don't know why. I don't know if it's a whole other level or just extra determination or the fact that I know we have a good team and we really want to win.
 
"I just feel really good up there. I feel like I'm having some quality at-bats. I'm doing all I can to help. I'm in a good spot."
 
Russell, meanwhile, has developed a reputation as a clutch hitter, posting a .429 average, 1.237 OPS and 23 RBI in 54 plate appearances in high-leverage situations. 
 
He's taken his game to another level at the biggest moments, not something often said about a 22-year-old with only 210 big-league games under his belt.
 
"Just a slow heart beat," Maddon said. "If you talk to the kid any time, he's always 'suavecito.' There's nothing really hurried about him. He's just got a great way about him.
 
"Again, he's going to keep getting better. Everybody's liking it when he's doing good. I'm here to tell you: He's going to get better."
 
However, Russell also just went through one of those bad stretches at the end of May/beginning of June where he hit .161 with a .569 OPS through 18 games, striking out 23 times. He felt he had gotten too passive during that span.
 
When the St. Louis Cardinals swept the Cubs at Wrigley Field last week, Russell stared at strike three right down the middle during his first trip to the plate. He instantly made a mental adjustment to be more aggressive and responded with three straight hits to close out that first game.
 
"I've been feeling good," he said. "I've been seeing the ball well. Just taking an opportunity of swinging the bat at the right moment. I felt like early on in that game, watching two balls go by that I would normally do some damage with, I kind of took it hard and realized maybe I'm letting these pitches go too frequently. 
 
"I still feel more comfortable [overall this season]. It's just a daily grind, man. You're going to go through these funks. You're going to hit balls day-to-day that don't tend to fall. You normally don't want to change anything, so my approach is just to stay the same, and I want to take my walks as well."
 
The Cubs understand this is a long season filled with adversity, injuries and losing streaks. But if Bryant and Russell cannot be considered sophomores anymore, would their maturity and advanced approaches put them at a junior level?
 
"I think so. Favorite year in high school, by far," Maddon said. "You're totally free your junior year. SATs don't matter. PSATs are OK. I got my license, among other things. It was a really good time."

Cubs ace Jake Arrieta nominated for two ESPY Awards

Cubs ace Jake Arrieta nominated for two ESPY Awards

Jake Arrieta had a 2015 season for the ages, and was rewarded for it by winning the National League Cy Young Award, becoming the fifth player in Cubs history to accomplish that feat.

He's also been nominated for a pair of ESPY awards because of it: best breakthrough athlete and best MLB player.

After struggling to find his groove in four seasons with the Baltimore Orioles (20-25, 5.46 ERA), Arrieta turned it around in Chicago, particularly in 2015 when he erupted for a 22-6 record with a 1.77 ERA. 

The Cubs ace followed that up in 2016 by jumping out to a 9-0 start, and went nearly a calendar year without a loss.

He's also one of 26 pitchers in MLB history to have thrown more than one no-hitter, and did so 11 starts apart from each other.

The voting ends at 7 p.m. CT on July 13, when the ESPY Awards will take place. Cast your vote here.

Report: Pau Gasol tells Bulls he has declined option, becoming a free agent

Report: Pau Gasol tells Bulls he has declined option, becoming a free agent

It shouldn't be a surprise to anyone, but Pau Gasol is hitting the market.

Gasol told the Bulls that he has declined his option for the 2016-17 season and will become a free agent, according to ESPN's Marc Stein.

The 35-year-old signed a three-year, $22.3 million deal with the Bulls in the summer of 2014.

In two seasons with the Bulls, he averaged 17.6 points per game and 11.4 rebounds and made an All-Star appearance.