Cubs

Bulls battle East-leading Knicks tonight on CSN

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Bulls battle East-leading Knicks tonight on CSN

The Knicks will be at full strength and back at home, where they have been nearly unbeatable, when they clash again with the Bulls tonight at 6:30 on Comcast SportsNet. Coverage begins at 6 p.m. with Bulls Pregame Live.

Before Mondays loss to the Houston Rockets when former overnight celebrity Jeremy Lin returned to score 23 points and dish out eight assists on his former team the New York Knicks had been a perfect 10-0 at Madison Square Garden. In fact, dating back to last season Mike Woodsons group had lost one time, to the Miami Heat in April, in its last 21 outings in the Big Apple.

The Knicks still boast a league-best 11-1 record at home, but theyll need to get back on track quick against a Bulls team playing solid basketball on the road. Tom Thibodeaus group had a streak of four straight road wins broken on Monday in Memphis, so one team will begin a new streak tonight at Madison Square Garden.

The Bulls were successful in their first meeting against New York this season, taking down a Carmelo Anthony-less group 83-85 at the United Center. And while not having to face their team MVP -- and perhaps the league MVP through two months made life easier for Chicago, its worth noting that two nights earlier the Knicks, without Anthony, had defeated the Miami Heat in Miami, giving credibility to the Bulls win against the deep New York team.

Anthony will be back in the lineup tonight and will look to continue his career year going as he leads the Knicks above the top of the Eastern Conference standings. Anthonys 28.0 point-per-game-average and 47.6 percent mark from the field are not career-bests, but when put together show the former No. 3 overall pick is playing the most efficient basketball of his nine-year career. He has missed four games including the loss to Houston with a sprained ankle but returned Wednesday to score 31 points in a 100-86 home win against in-state rival Brooklyn. Outside of guarding LeBron James, Anthony will be the toughest test Luol Deng sees all season.

RELATED: Gibson plans to play vs. Knicks

Just as the Bulls had a busy offseason moving and bringing in key pieces, the Knicks did the same. After losing Lin to the Rockets, veteran point guards Raymond Felton and Jason Kidd were brought in to fill the void. Those two have been every bit as good as advertised, with Kidd playing more of a shooting guard role next to the point guard Felton, while still providing his patented defense on the other end. Former Bull Ronnie Brewer is one of three Knicks to start all 25 games this season, but will look to improve on his 0-of-5 performance the first time these two teams squared off.

As Joakim Noahs dream season continues, hell once again be tested in the middle by a rejuvenated Tyson Chandler, who of course spent the first five years of his career in Chicago. After helping the Mavericks to an NBA title in 2011, Chandler was named Defensive Player of the Year in 2011-12 and is now enjoying the best offensive season of his 11-year career. In a matchup of the Eastern Conferences two best active centers Andrew Bynum, when healthy, may take that crown Noah vs. Chandler could determine the outcome of tonights game.

The Bulls will try and become the first team to take down the Eastern Conferences best team twice tonight when they take the court in the Worlds Most Famous Arena. Make sure to check out the action live, and dont miss pre- and post-game analysis with Mark Schanowski and Kendall Gill, only on Comcast SportsNet.

Breaking down where Cubs can turn NLCS around and beat L.A.

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USA TODAY

Breaking down where Cubs can turn NLCS around and beat L.A.

“Sometimes, you got to lay your marbles out there,” Jon Lester said Sunday night inside Dodger Stadium’s visiting clubhouse, before the Cubs flew home from Los Angeles down 0-2 in the National League Championship Series. “And you get beat.”

It will be extremely difficult for the Cubs to win four of the next five games against the Dodgers, starting Tuesday night at Wrigley Field. But the Cubs had the, uh, marbles to win last year’s World Series and have developed the muscle memory from winning six playoff rounds and playing in 33 postseason games since October 2015.

There is a cross section left of the 2015 team that beat the Pittsburgh Pirates and silenced PNC Park’s blackout crowd in a sudden-death wild-card game. While 2016 is seen in hindsight as a year of destiny, those Cubs still had to kill the myths about the even-year San Francisco Giants, survive a 21-inning scoreless streak against the Dodgers and win Games 5, 6, 7 against the Cleveland Indians under enormous stress.

There is at least a baseline of experience to draw from and the sense that the Cubs won’t panic and beat themselves, the way the Washington Nationals broke down in the NL Division Series.

· Remember the Cubs pointed to how their rotation set up as soon as Cleveland took a 3-1 lead in last year’s World Series: Lester, Jake Arrieta and Kyle Hendricks would each give them a chance to win that night. The Dodgers will now have to deal with last year’s major-league ERA leader (Hendricks) in Game 3 and a Cy Young Award winner (Arrieta) on Wednesday night in Game 4.

“Obviously, we know we need to get wins at this point,” Hendricks said. “But approaching it as a must-win is a little extreme. We've just got to go out there and play our brand of baseball.

“Since we accomplished that, we know we just have to take it game by game. Even being down 3-1 (in the World Series), we worry about the next game. In that situation, we didn’t think we had to win three in a row or anything like that. We just came to the ballpark the next day and worried about what we had to do that day.”

· The history lessons only go so far when the Dodgers can line up Yu Darvish as their Game 3 starter instead of, say, Josh Tomlin. There is also a huge difference between facing a worn-down Cleveland staff in late October/early November and a rested Dodger team that clinched a division title on Sept. 22 and swept the Arizona Diamondbacks in the first round. Joe Blanton and Pedro Baez aren’t walking through that bullpen door, either.

“We’ve done it before. We’ve been there before,” shortstop Addison Russell said. “But this year’s a new year. That’s a different ballclub. We’re definitely going to have to bring it.”

· Outside of Kenley Jansen, can you name anyone else in the Los Angeles bullpen off the top of your head? No doubt, the Dodger relievers have been awesome in Games 1 and 2 combined: Eight scoreless innings, zero hits, zero walks and Anthony Rizzo the only one out of 25 batters to reach base when Jansen hit him with a 93.7-mph pitch.

But the Dodgers are going to make mistakes, and the Cubs will have to capitalize. Unless this is the same kind of synthesis from the 2015 NLCS, when the New York Mets used exhaustive scouting reports, power pitching and pinpoint execution to sweep a Cubs team that had already hit the wall.

“Their bullpen is a lot stronger than it was last year,” Kris Bryant said. “They’re really good at throwing high fastballs in the zone. A lot of other teams try to, and they might hit it one out of every four. But this team, it seems like they really can hammer the top of the zone. And they have guys that throw in the upper 90s, so when you mix those two, it’s tough to catch up.”

· Bryant is not having a good October (5-for-28 with 13 strikeouts) and both Lester and Jose Quintana have more hits (one each) than Javier Baez (0-for-19 with eight strikeouts) during the playoffs. But we are still talking about the reigning NL MVP and last year’s NLCS co-MVP.

Ben Zobrist is clearly diminished and no longer the switch-hitting force who became last year’s World Series MVP. Kyle Schwarber doesn’t have the same intimidation factor or playoff aura right now. But one well-timed bunt from Zobrist or a “Schwarbomb” onto the video board could change the entire direction of this series and put the pressure on a Dodger team that knows this year is World Series or bust.

“We need to hit a couple balls hard consecutively,” manager Joe Maddon said. “Once we’re able to do that, we’ll gain our offensive mojo back. That's all that’s going on.

“I inherited something from my dad, and that was patience. So you’ve got to be patient right now. You’ve got to keep putting the boys back out there. You keep believing in them, and eventually it comes back to you.”

· Maddon is a 63-year-old man who opened Monday’s stadium club press conference at Wrigley Field by talking about dry-humping, clearly annoyed by all the second-guessers on Twitter and know-it-all sports writers who couldn’t believe All-Star closer Wade Davis got stranded in the bullpen, watching the ninth inning of Sunday’s 1-1 game turn into a 4-1 walk-off loss.

By the time a potential save situation develops on Tuesday night, roughly 120 hours will have passed since Davis threw his 44th and final pitch at Nationals Park, striking out Bryce Harper to end an instant classic. Just guessing that Maddon will be in the mood to unleash Davis.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Should the Bears let Mitch Trubisky throw more?

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Should the Bears let Mitch Trubisky throw more?

Adam Jahns (Chicago Sun-Times), Ben Finfer (ESPN 1000) and Jordan Cornette (The U/ESPN 1000) join Kap on the panel. Justin Turner hits a walk-off 3-run HR off of John Lackey to give the Dodgers a 2-0 lead in the NLCS. So why was Lackey even in the game? How much blame should Joe Maddon get for the loss?

The Bears run the ball over and over and over again to beat the Ravens in overtime, but should they have let Mitch Trubisky throw the ball more?