Red-hot Clippers match a franchise record

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Red-hot Clippers match a franchise record

From Comcast SportsNetLOS ANGELES (AP) -- The Los Angeles Clippers' franchise record-tying 11th consecutive victory had owner Donald Sterling leading a "hip, hip hooray" chant in the locker room.Sterling grabbed the hand of coach Vinny Del Negro and held it up, exhorting his team, "Let's hear it for the coach." Then he told Del Negro, "Vinny, give me a hug" and the two men embraced."Eleven in a row. Not bad, is it?" Sterling said.Blake Griffin scored 18 points and Jamal Crawford added 17 in the Clippers' 93-77 win over the New Orleans Hornets on Wednesday night that tied the franchise mark set by the 1974-75 Buffalo Braves."That's pretty special, especially to do it at home," said Chris Paul, who had 10 points and 12 assists, giving him 5,003 in his career."The food tastes better, the music sounds better, you sleep a little better," Paul said. "Everything seems better when you're winning."DeAndre Jordan added 12 points for the Clippers, whose 19-6 record is tied with New York for second-best in the NBA.Robin Lopez scored 14 of his 22 points in the first quarter and rookie Anthony Davis added 16 for the Hornets. They lost their ninth in a row and 11th in 12 games while falling to 2-10 on the road. They were the last team to beat the Clippers on Nov. 26."We knew they were going to come out with a lot of energy. They made shots that they didn't make the last time we played them, and they got a lot of easy buckets," Davis said. "They've got a great team. They're all capable of scoring the ball, from the starters to the bench."Four of the Clippers' five starters took the fourth quarter off, with only Willie Green coming back in after having helped build a 19-point lead to start the final period. But the Hornets couldn't get anything going against the second unit that has played a significant role in the Clippers' current run."We've been getting off to good starts and not putting so much pressure on our bench," Paul said.The Hornets staged a brief rally to open the third. Davis scored five in a row in their 12-9 run that drew them within seven. The Clippers took over from there, outscoring New Orleans 18-6 to end the third leading 75-56. They made 8 of 10 free throws, while Paul's fast-break dunk highlighted the spurt. Griffin grabbed his teammate as Paul swung wildly from the basket."Oh, did I dunk tonight?'" said Paul, the least likely to dunk on a Clippers team nicknamed "Lob City."Blake drew laughs when he said, "You saw I had to help him down.""They really feed off their fast break," Ryan Anderson said. "They're a team that runs, and when they get turnovers they break out and find open guys at the other end. They did that the whole second half and they took advantage of our mistakes."Paul fed Griffin for a layup late in the second quarter to notch his 5,000th assist, triggering a standing ovation. Griffin got fouled on the play and made the free throw. It came during an 11-0 run that provided the Clippers' largest lead to that point, 46-30. Paul's alley-oop pass to Griffin led to a fast-break dunk for the Clippers' final basket of the half, with them leading 48-38."I didn't know what everyone was cheering for," Paul said.Griffin said, "It's cool to be part of that. It's definitely not the last. I'm looking forward to 10,000."The Hornets kept it close in the opening quarter, when they trailed 22-16 after Lopez scored 14 points. He was scoreless in the second quarter when he picked up his third foul.NOTES:Del Negro said Jordan turned his ankle during the game. ... At 27 years, 228 days, Paul is the third-youngest player in NBA history to reach 5,000 assists, trailing Magic Johnson and Isiah Thomas. He is the fifth-fastest to reach the milestone, needing 510 games. ... New Orleans hasn't won since Dec. 3 against Milwaukee. ... Hornets G Eric Gordon missed the game against his former team because of a sore right knee. He smiled when Clippers fans chanted his name in the final 2 minutes. ... Returning home from a four-game trip, the Clippers had a moment of silence for the victims of last week's school shootings in Connecticut.

Fire players to appear at Nando's Peri-Peri in South Loop on July 30

Fire players to appear at Nando's Peri-Peri in South Loop on July 30

Nando's Peri-Peri just launched a seventh Chicago-area restaurant and the Chicago Fire are helping to promote the new location in the name of the Chicago Fire Foundation.

Fire players and general manager Nelson Rodriguez will pay a visit to the Nando's at 1005 S. Delano Court on July 30.

Nando's will donate all sales, excluding alcohol, on that date to the Chicago Fire Foundation. That Nando's location opened on July 24.

Players Matt Lampson, Patrick McLain, Patrick Doody, Drew Conner, Matt Polster, Michael Stephens, Joey Calistri and Alex Morrell and Rodriguez will be at the Nando's. Fire players will be at the restaurant from 1:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Check out the Fire's release on the event for more information.

Notre Dame unit preview: Is Alize Jones primed for a breakout at tight end?

Notre Dame unit preview: Is Alize Jones primed for a breakout at tight end?

With the start of Notre Dame preseason camp approaching fast, we’re looking at what to expect from each unit that’ll take the field in primetime Sept. 4 against Texas at Darrell K. Royal Stadium. 

Depth Chart

1A. Durham Smythe (Redshirt junior)
1B. Alize Jones (Sophomore)
2A. Tyler Luatua (Junior)
2B. Nic Weishar (Redshirt sophomore)
3. Jacob Matuska (Redshirt junior)

Smythe’s Week 2 injury against Virginia thinned this group quite a bit last year. As a group, Notre Dame’s tight ends only totaled 20 receptions for 233 yards and one touchdown (which came when Smythe scored on a fake field goal against Virginia). 

But with Smythe healthy, Jones feeling more comfortable and a dearth of experience at receiver, Scott Booker’s group should be relied on more in Notre Dame’s passing game this fall. The return of Luatua, who was welcomed back to the team this summer after initially deciding to transfer prior to spring practice, will help Notre Dame’s running efforts behind the physical 255-pound California native. 

Weishar could develop into a factor, too, as he enters his third year in the program. The Marist alum has solid receiving skills that could play well this fall, especially in the red zone. 

Biggest question: Is Alize Jones ready to break out? 

Jones accounted for most of Notre Dame’s tight end production last year (13 catches and 190 yards) but wasn’t satisfied with his first year on campus. It was an eye-opening experience for him: “I didn’t take enough time and I don’t think I took it too serious last year,” Jones said during spring practice. 

But even through some of that first-year turbulence, Jones showed glimpses of the outstanding athleticism and receiving skills that made him a sought-after recruit out of Bishop Gorman High School in Las Vegas. His 45-yard catch in the fourth quarter against Temple set up DeShone Kizer’s game-winning toss to Will Fuller, and he also had a 37-yard reception against UMass an a 35-yarder against USC. 

Whether Jones stays at tight end is another question. Notre Dame tried him out at its “W” receiver position this spring, and if he winds up sticking there, he could follow the Devin Funchess-like career arc plenty of Notre Dame fans prophesied when he signed with the Irish in February of 2015. But however the 6-foot-4, 240 pound Jones is used, he’s primed to develop into a key part of Notre Dame’s offense this fall. 

Youthful impact

Notre Dame didn’t sign a tight end in its 2016 recruiting class, but has two highly-touted players verbally committed to its class of 2017. Both Brock Wright (Cypress, Texas) and Cole Kmet (Arlington Heights, Ill.) are rated by Rivals as four-star recruits. 

They said it

“I know what it’s like to play Clemson and Ohio State and teams like that, playing against elite guys. Now going into my sophomore year, I’ve already done it. It’s just getting comfortable with everything, which I am. So I really feel like all the pieces are coming together.” — Alize Jones

White Sox like short- and long-term payoff from Tim Anderson's battle with Jake Arrieta

White Sox like short- and long-term payoff from Tim Anderson's battle with Jake Arrieta

What arguably was the best at-bat of Tim Anderson’s nascent major league career ended with a strikeout. 

Anderson led off the sixth inning of the White Sox 5-4 win over the Cubs on Monday with a 10-pitch at-bat against reigning National League Cy Young winner Jake Arrieta. He fouled off four consecutive pitches, three of which came on a 3-2 count, before taking a sinker on the black for strike three. 

What happened after Anderson’s at-bat was where the payoff from it came: Melky Cabrera drew a walk and Jose Abreu lined a single to right. After Justin Morneau struck out looking on a high curveball — the pitch was out of the strike zone, according to BrooksBaseball.net — Todd Frazier launched a three-run home run.

 

[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

“I kind of felt like that got us some momentum, even though I did strike out,” Anderson said.” It kind of got him (Arrieta) flustered a little bit, got him off rhythm and we were able to capitalize on that.”

The 23-year-old Anderson hasn’t made a living on patient, lengthy at-bats since being promoted to the majors in early June. Anderson entered Tuesday’s Crosstown date with the Cubs seeing an average of 3.56 pitches per plate appearance, ranking 278th out of 310 players with at least 150 plate appearances this season (former White Sox and current Atlanta Braves catcher A.J. Pierzynski is last with 3.09 P/PA, while the Cleveland Indians’ Mike Napoli leads the majors with 4.59 P/PA). 

Anderson also has the lowest walk rate (1.2 percent) of any player with 150 plate appearances, which would explain why he only has a .281 on-base percentage despite hitting a relatively healthy .273. 

It’s relatively rare for a player to have a walk rate as low as Anderson’s and have an above-average season at the plate. The lowest walk rates for players with a wRC+ over 100 (100 being average) over the last three years: Adam Jones (3.6 percent walk rate, 119 wRC+ in 2013), Dee Gordon (3.8 percent walk rate, 113 wRC+ in 2014) and Jones (2.8 percent walk rate, 116 wRC+ in 2015).

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Eventually, Anderson will have to become more patient at the plate to maximize on his outstanding contact skills. The battle he had with Arrieta showed he can fight off plenty of pitches from one of baseball’s best hurlers, which manager Robin Ventura saw as a positive long-term sign. 

It didn’t hurt things in in the short-term view of the sixth inning Monday, either. 

“He’s getting a taste of some good pitchers,” Ventura said. “I think that’s part of his process going through the league, seeing these guys. He doesn’t back down, he’s a very confident kid. You learn something as well as be productive. You like to see a kid fight like that at the plate.”