Week 8 Power Rankings: Clippers soaring

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Week 8 Power Rankings: Clippers soaring

By Tony Andracki & Mark Strotman

Each Monday throughout the regular season, Mark Strotman and Tony Andracki will rank all 30 NBA teams. Below are Week 7 Power Rankings. Think we're way off? Agree with our picks? Hit us up on Twitter at@BullsTalkCSNwith comments or criticisms.
Past rankings:PreseasonWeek 1Week 2Week 3 Week 4 Week 5 Week 6 Week 7

Tony
MarkComments1
Tony:Hey, they finally lost!
Mark: Best team in the NBA, and they are coached by Vinny del Negro.
2
Tony: Hey, they still haven't lost since November!
Mark: Win streak is over, but OKC-Miami will be lots of fun tomorrow.
3
Tony: Parker and Co. spoiled TheReturn: Dirk Edition.
Mark: LeBron went 250 minutes without committing a foul? Wow.
4
Tony: Need to get LeBron some help.
Mark: Kawhi Leonard making a big impact after his return from injury.
5
Tony: Can't handle Bulls, Rockets.
Mark: Nasty week, but Carmelo is still playing out of his mind.
6
Tony: What happens if 31-year-old Randolph gets hurt?
Mark: Recent struggles, but still just 1 game behind the Spurs for the division.7
Tony: Not much star power, but very solid all-around squad.
Mark: Marc Jackson continues to successfully coach easily the biggest surprise in the NBA.8
Tony: Curry should be getting some MVP votes. He's been phenomenal.
Mark: Good for them to get a big win over Chicago last week.9
Tony: Not quite consistent enough yet, but rounding into form.
Mark: If they replicate this success until Rose returns, Bulls will fight for East supremacy.
10
Tony: Just won't let Bulls run away with the division.
Mark: Interested to see how Omer Asik responds to Joakim Noah's comments.
11
Tony: At least they have the Knicks' number, ya know?
Mark: Deepest team in league finding stride, beating Memphis and San Antonio last 2 weeks.
12
Tony: If McGee can stay under control, he's a solid, efficient role player.
Mark: Nash coming back, but will it make a difference for West's No. 11 seed?
13
Tony: So now Humphries is getting benched? Too much drama in Brooklyn.
Mark: Same as Bulls, patiently waiting until their superstar (Granger) returns.
14
Tony: Ellis can just take over games sometimes.
Mark: Jennings trade talks heating up, and they will be until the deadline.
15
Tony: Kevin Love just needs to stay on the court.
Mark: Rubio beginning to ramp up minutes can only mean good things for Minnesota.16
Tony: On outside of playoff race if season ended today.
Mark: Struggled against fierce competition, as expected by most.
17
Tony: Can still be exploited inside by most teams.
Mark:Bynum thinks he can still contribute this season; I'll say he doesn't.
18
Tony: J.J. Hickson is actually playing pretty well.
Mark: What did Avery Johnson do to Deron Williams' field goal percentage?
19
Tony: Fading fast, and even with Holiday back and playing at high level again.
Mark: Pierce is on fire lately, but his teammates aren't matching the effort.
20
Tony: On a four-game win streak, but they've had to fight and claw for every victory.
Mark: Wes Matthews needs to get healthy, as the playoffs are a possibility in diluted West.
21
Tony: To say Dirk's return could've gone better is an understatement.
Mark: So what will Dwight Howard say if the Magic make the playoffs and he doesn't?
22
Tony: Still just kinda hangin' around.
Mark: Fading fast, need some shakeups.
23
Tony: I just don't get Alvin Gentry's rotation. At all.
Mark: 12-16 Mavs must love having Dirk back.
24
Tony: They're on a five-game win streak and they're still only 9-19? Ouch.
Mark: Two straight wins after losing six in a row, eight of nine.
25
Tony: Andre Drummond looking like a solid future piece.
Mark: 5 straight wins, but Houston the only opponent of note.
26
Tony: The DeMarcus Cousins situation has just become laughable.
Mark:Cavs probably need to deal Varejao and continue rebuilding.
27
Tony: Ridiculous that a six-win team is 27th.
Mark:With Evans, Cousins out, Kings score 105 points. Go figure.
28
Tony: It's like a race with Nawlins for worst record in NBA. They may never win again.
Mark: Would love to see Anthony Davis, Austin Rivers and Eric Gordon together soon.
29
Tony: Seriously? 11 straight losses? At least Davis has grown another half-inch in NO.
Mark: 15 losses in a row. It's last year all over again.
30
Tony:Amazing that a seven-game losing streak is far from worst in league.
Mark: Bradley Beal and Jordan Crawford will work well when John Wall returns.

ESPN's Stephen A. Smith defends himself against Jake Arrieta

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ESPN's Stephen A. Smith defends himself against Jake Arrieta

Jake Arrieta vs. Stephen A. Smith: Round II?

Not quite, but the ESPN personality still felt the need to defend himself from the Cubs ace on air Thursday after Arrieta created a stir by Tweeting at Smith Wednesday.

Smith initially took a strong stance against Arrieta and the possibility of the 2015 NL Cy Young winner taking performance-enhancing drugs, but then immediately backed down when confronted on Twitter. 

On Thursday's "First Take," Smith apparently felt like he had to keep the drama going and responded to Arrieta:

"I can appreciate Jake Arrieta defending himself," Smith said. "If it were me, I certainly would. I take no offense whatsoever at anything he said towards me or that he Tweeted at me. 

"But I do think he needs to understand my perspective. Skip Bayless - we didn't walk on this show saying, 'We've been watching Jake Arrieta pitch. Let's talk about it because this seems suspicious.' No, it was an article in USATODAY with fans and contemporaries quietly saying, 'Something doesn't seem right here.' So we pointed out the level of excellence, what he did in the second half of last season."

Smith then delved into how many others in the game of baseball have denied using PEDs - like Alex Rodriguez and Ryan Braun - and how we can't take anybody's word for it nowadays.

Apparently that means that Smith can accuse (without technically accusing) somebody of taking PEDs or claiming they handled the aftermath wrong by laughing it off?

To be fair, that's basically what "First Take" is: discussing hot-button sports issues with vague language - it's basically a bunch of hot takes communicated with lawyerspeak - so the Arrieta comments Wednesday weren't all that newsworthy until the Cubs pitcher decided to respond on Twitter.

"I don't know anything about Jake Arreita," Smith continued. "All I know is this man is nothing short of sensational, deserving of the Cy Young Award because of his performance in the second half of the season and - by the way - happened to lose to the Mets in the postseason. That's all I know about him."

Cheers to the (hopeful) end to this saga.

Jenny McCarthy, Donnie Wahlberg are wicked awesome Boston and Chicago sports fans

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Jenny McCarthy, Donnie Wahlberg are wicked awesome Boston and Chicago sports fans

For the second straight year, the NFL Draft is in Chicago.

For Jenny McCarthy, she's obviously rocking Bears attire — being in her hometown. But her husband, well, he's sporting gear from his hometown team: the New England Patriots.

You'd think that McCarthy and Donnie Wahlberg would have some conflicts rooting for different teams in two of the biggest sports markets.

Surprisingly, the only tension between the couple came in the Blackhawks-Bruins Stanley Cup Final in 2013, but they were in the early stages of their relationship. Aside from that, they've stayed in their own lanes with their respective teams.

McCarthy said that when Chicago teams aren't facing Boston, she doesn't mind siding with Wahlberg's team. Donnie though has a different opinion.

"I can't really ever root for the Bears, just because of 1985 — the 46-10 (win over the Patriots in Super Bowl XX), but I have come to respect that team," Wahlberg said.

"I love Mike Ditka, even Buddy Ryan," he added. "They were great coaches. You can't hate on those guys. That team was incredible. When a team is great, you gotta respect it.

"The Bears in '85 — as much as it killed me as a young kid to see my team get decimated in the Super Bowl — I mean looking back on it, what a team. This is one of the greatest teams — probably maybe the greatest single season team ever."

Donnie's brother, Mark, is a huge fan of Jimmy Butler and has a close friendship with the Bulls guard. But is Donnie a fan, too?

"I'm sorry, does he play for the Celtics?" Wahlberg joked. "He's a great player, he's a great player. If I had to pick someone on the Bulls, I'd pick D-Rose if he can get healthy again. I'm a Celtics guy. It doesn't mean I can't be friends with other players — I know a lot of players too and I'm friends with them. 

"Jimmy Butler is a great guy most importantly. If he comes to the Celtics, I'll be a fan of his."

The Cubs and White Sox are off to hot starts in the 2016 campaign, both leading their divisions. Since McCarthy was born in Chicago, it raises the popular baseball question: Cubs or White Sox?

"I realized this when I moved to Los Angeles for 20 years, I came to appreciate both teams because you just miss Chicago so much," she said. "Now that I've moved back, I have to go back to my south side Chicago girl. I'm White Sox. Even though I love the Cubs, I'm a White Sox south side girl all the way."

Well there ya have it.

Check out McCarthy's Dirty Sexy Funny radio show live on Monday-Friday at 9-11 a.m. CT on SiriusXM channel 109.

See what else McCarthy and Wahlberg had to say at the NFL Draft in the video above.

Saturday on CSN: Fire in need of a win vs. D.C. United

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Saturday on CSN: Fire in need of a win vs. D.C. United

The seventh match of the season is a bit early to be thinking about must-win games, but a look at the Chicago Fire's early results and schedule shows why there should be a bit more desperation.

The Fire host D.C. United on Saturday (4 p.m. on CSN; coverage begins at 3:30 p.m. with Fire Pregame Live) and need three points to avoid putting themselves in an early hole in the playoff race in the Eastern Conference.

After playing four of the first six matches at home against all against Eastern Conference teams, the Fire (1-2-3, 6 points) have just one win. On top of that, the next three games are all on the road in an eight-day period. Getting points during that stretch will be difficult. That's why Saturday's game against D.C. (2-3-3, 9 points) is about as important as a late-April game can be.

"The team we have a good feeling," Fire midfielder John Goossens said. "We are waiting on the results. We are working hard for it. Last week was really hard sessions. We trained really hard and we have to show it on the weekend.”

On the other side, D.C. has two shutout victories in its last three matches after going winless through five. The veteran team is crushed with injuries at the moment.

Standout goalkeeper Bill Hamid has been out all season and his replacement Andrew Dykstra, a former Fire keeper, has been out since starting the opener. Charlie Horton, who was acquired due to the absence of Hamid, is also out injured. Second-year player Travis Worra has started each match since.

Forward Fabian Espindola, who has three goals so far, picked up a hamstring injury last weekend and is out. He will likely be replaced by Alvaro Sabario at forward, who will pair with former Fire forward Chris Rolfe up top. Midfielder Marcelo Sarvas is suspended due to yellow card accumulation.

In addition to Rolfe, Saturday marks the return of longtime Fire player Patrick Nyarko. Nyarko was traded by the Fire in the offseason after playing eight seasons for the Chicago club. Nyarko has made seven starts for United.

“I think they have good individual quality," Fire coach Veljko Paunovic said of D.C. "They have also experienced players, many of them have played a long time together so that’s a great advantage for their team. I think they are very good on the counter also and very good on set pieces so we will work on that to prepare as much as we can... We have to be smart and don’t concede fouls and corners and set pieces in our half.”

On the Fire injury front, David Accam is still out with a knee injury. Rookie Alex Morrell, who has come on as a sub in each of the last two matches, is also listed as out in the injury report due to a calf strain.

Chicago Fire vs. D.C. United

When: Coverage begins at 3:30 p.m. with Fire Pregame Live

TV: CSN Chicago (simulcast in Spanish on CSN+)

Where: Toyota Park; Bridgeview, Ill.