One NBA team has lost 16 games in a row

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One NBA team has lost 16 games in a row

From Comcast SportsNetCHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -- LeBron James grew up watching wrestling.So when Ric "The Nature Boy" Flair walked into the arena on Wednesday night, one of the NBA's best entertainers knew it was time to put on his own show.James did just that.The reigning MVP had 27 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists as the Heat handed the Charlotte Bobcats their 16th straight loss, 105-92 on Wednesday night.Dwyane Wade added 29 points and nine rebounds, and Mario Chalmers had 17 points as the Heat opened a four-game trip with a win."When I was a kid, I loved wrestling," James said. "He was one of the guys I loved, too. I think he's one of the creators of what we call swag these days with the Rolexes and the stretch limos and all the girls and all that stuff. He's one of the creators of swag."James showed some swag of his own early with four dunks in the first five minutes to get the Heat off to a quick start en route to their sixth straight win.Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said before the game his team respected the Bobcats. However, Spoelstra hinted he was a little worried about the energy Miami expended in a win over Oklahoma city and whether they would be able to get up for the struggling Bobcats.Spoelstra talked to his players before the game, and his words seemed to work.Miami quickly opened a 9-0 lead behind a 3-pointer by Chalmers and three straight dunks -- two by James and another by Chris Bosh, who had 14 points. James was the catalyst in the first quarter with 11 points -- eight on fast-break dunks -- with four steals and four rebounds."I thought we came in with the right mindset and disposition," Spoelstra said. "We were a little more inconsistent in the second half, but we found a way. That Charlotte team continues to claw and scratch and plays hard regardless of the tough road they've had. They just keep on coming at you."It looked as though Miami was on its way to a blowout win. That wasn't the case.While the Heat never trailed and led by as many as 19, they couldn't deliver the knockout punch to the Bobcats, who were playing without starting center Byron Mullens, guard Ben Gordon, and forward Tyrus Thomas due to injuries.Down by 17 at halftime, the Bobcats whittled the lead down to 84-82 with 7:16 left when Gerald Henderson completed a three-point play.But James knocked down a 3-pointer, Wade hit jumpers from 17 and 19 feet, and Shane Battier added a 3-pointer from the right corner to complete an 11-3 run that pushed the lead to 10.Miami wasn't challenged again."That is what we're going to face on the road," Wade said. "The home team is not going to go away. We understand that. We have been through that over the last three years here so we're comfortable and confident in those situations. It's about making the right plays on both ends of the floor."James called it a bunker mentality."We understand that we haven't played great basketball on the road so far," James said. "But, we were able to take care of business tonight. For the most part over the last few weeks we've been playing some great basketball."Wade drew boos from the crowd after he delivered a knee to the groin of Ramon Sessions in the second half. But Sessions, who believed that Wade intentionally struck him, was actually called for a foul.Kemba Walker had 27 points, and Sessions added 19 points for the Bobcats (7-21), who haven't won since Nov. 24.Hakim Warrick, making his first start for the Bobcats in place of Mullens, had 18 points and nine rebounds. Sessions provided a big lift in a reserve role by hitting 7 of 12 shots, most coming off drives to the basket against an outmatched Mike Miller.Despite the loss, Walker said taking the defending champions to the wire was a needed boost of confidence for a young team like the Bobcats."I thought we played well in the second half," Walker said. "We really got after it and played hard and played up and down. We played like we did early in the season. If we keep that up, we'll be fine."NOTES:Heat guard Ray Allen missed the game because of a sore right shoulder. Allen was injured while setting a screen on Kendrick Perkins in the second half of Tuesday night's win over Oklahoma City. ... Charlotte's Gana Diop has four blocked shots in each of the last two games. He had one on James at the end of the first quarter.

Preview: Cubs-Giants Thursday on CSN+

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Preview: Cubs-Giants Thursday on CSN+

The Cubs take on the San Francisco Giants on Thursday, and you can catch all the action on CSN+. Coverage begins with Cubs Pregame Live at 6:30 p.m. Then catch first pitch with Len Kasper and Jim Deshaies. Be sure to stick around after the final out to get analysis and player reaction on Cubs Postgame Live.

Thursday’s starting pitching matchup: Mike Montgomery vs. Jeff Samardzija

Click here for a game preview to make sure you’re ready for the action.  

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— Channel finder: Make sure you know where to watch.

— Latest on the Cubs: All of the most recent news and notes.

— See what fans are talking about before, during and after the game with Cubs Pulse.

Eloy Jimenez and Ian Happ headline Cubs prospects ticketed for Arizona Fall League

Eloy Jimenez and Ian Happ headline Cubs prospects ticketed for Arizona Fall League

Eloy Jimenez and Ian Happ will headline the group of seven Cubs prospects ticketed for the Arizona Fall League.

As the Cubs project their next wave of talent, Jimenez is thought to be close to untouchable after a breakout performance at the All-Star Futures Game and a Midwest League MVP season at Class-A South Bend.

Jimenez – who originally signed out of the Dominican Republic and got a $2.8 million bonus in the summer of 2013 – is hitting .331 with 14 homers and 81 RBI through 111 games with the South Bend Cubs. At the age of 19, the dynamic outfielder reminds the Cubs a little bit of Kris Bryant during his freshman year at the University of San Diego with that 6-foot-4, 205-pound frame and powerful right-handed swing.

Happ – the ninth overall pick in the 2015 draft out of the University of Cincinnati – is a switch-hitter (.717 OPS at Double-A Tennessee) who has tried to increase his versatility by moving between second base and the outfield and become a Joe Maddon-type player.

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The Mesa Solar Sox roster unveiled Wednesday also includes Victor Caratini, an advanced defensive catcher who drew interest around the trade deadline and could be packaged in a bigger deal for pitching if Willson Contreras continues to develop behind the plate and Kyle Schwarber comes back healthy next season.

Cubs officials trying to build a pitching pipeline for Wrigley Field will also get a look at right-handers James Farris, Ryan McNeil, Stephen Perakslis and Duane Underwood Jr. in the showcase league.

Jason Hammel helps Cubs sweep Pirates out of Wrigley

Jason Hammel helps Cubs sweep Pirates out of Wrigley

Another quick hook left Jason Hammel seething over the weekend at Dodger Stadium, bringing back uncomfortable questions about how much manager Joe Maddon trusts him, and whether or not the Cubs would find a spot for him on a playoff roster.  

Four days later, Pearl Jam’s “Alive” blasted from the Wrigley Field sound system as Hammel warmed up before facing the Pittsburgh Pirates – with no guarantees about October or next season.     

Hammel responded with another quality start in Wednesday’s 6-5 win, completing a three-game sweep that left the Pirates staggering in the wild-card race and helped the Cubs cut their magic number to win the division down to 16.   

Outside of a few extreme lows that distorted the perception of his overall season – 10-run outings against the New York Mets and at Coors Field and the 39 pitches he called a side day at Dodger Stadium – Hammel has been an integral part of the elite rotation that pushed the Cubs to an 85-47 record and such a huge lead in the National League Central (now 15 games up on the St. Louis Cardinals). 

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Hammel (14-7, 3.14 ERA) shut down the Pirates for six innings, allowing only one run on three hits and showing the confidence that made him an All-Star-level performer in the first half. With the bases loaded, Hammel screamed and flexed his muscles after striking out Andrew McCutchen swinging to end the fifth inning.       

On a night when the crowd chanted “MVP,” Kris Bryant launched his 36th homer (in the first inning off Ryan Vogelsong) and made Gold Glove-caliber plays at third base to back Hammel, diving to his left to catch a Sean Rodriguez line drive and prevent a run at the end of the second inning, and leaning over the wall and into the stands to catch a Josh Bell pop-up at the beginning of the fourth inning.        

This could become the next awkward conversation: If John Lackey (shoulder) returns to full strength – and the rest of the rotation doesn’t experience any setbacks down the stretch – what are the chances of Hammel making a playoff start?

“Stay healthy and we’ll see what happens,” Maddon said. “I don’t bet on the come. Let’s get to the playoffs first, make sure everybody’s well, and at that point then you look at the group you have. And then maybe at that point you look at the group you may be playing. And then you try to formulate the best plan of attack from your personnel versus their personnel. 

“I’ve not even thought about a playoff moment once.”