From Comcast SportsNetLOS ANGELES (AP) -- Jamal Crawford led a dominant performance by the Los Angeles reserves with 22 points, and the Clippers beat the Denver Nuggets 112-100 on Tuesday night, extending their franchise-record winning streak to 14 games.Matt Barnes added 20 points -- one off his season high -- as the bench outscored the Clippers starters 64-48 in claiming the NBA's best record at 22-6, one win better than Oklahoma City which lost to Miami earlier Tuesday.Kosta Koufos and Jordan Hamilton scored 16 points each for Denver in the finale of a Christmas Day doubleheader at Staples Center. The Lakers, who will play the Nuggets on Wednesday night in Denver, beat the Knicks 100-94 in the first game.Ty Lawson added 15 points for the Nuggets, who fell to 7-13 on the road, where 22 of their first 32 games are being played.Crawford's 3-pointer to open the fourth quarter pushed the Clippers' lead to 20 points and kept the starters on the bench for the final 12 minutes. Crawford scored eight points in the quarter.Chris Paul led Los Angeles starters with 14 points; Blake Griffin had 13; and Willie Green 11.Heat 103, Thunder 97MIAMI (AP) -- LeBron James finished with 29 points, nine assists and eight rebounds, Dwyane Wade scored 21, and Miami survived a frantic finish to beat Oklahoma City in an NBA Finals rematch.Mario Chalmers scored a season-high 20 for the Heat, who matched the franchise's best 25-game start at 19-6. Chris Bosh added 16 for Miami, which has beaten the Thunder five straight times going back to last June's title series.Kevin Durant scored 33 points and Russell Westbrook added 21 for Oklahoma City, but both Thunder stars missed potentially game-tying 3-point attempts in the final seconds. Serge Ibaka and Kevin Martin each added 15 for the Thunder, who have dropped two straight for the first time this season.The Heat went 19 for 19 from the foul line, the second-best effort in franchise history.Lakers 100, Knicks 94LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Kobe Bryant engineered a second-half comeback, helping Los Angeles beat New York and extend its winning streak to five.Bryant scored 34 points in his NBA-record 15th Christmas Day game, and Metta World Peace added 20 points and seven rebounds while defending Carmelo Anthony, whose 34 points led the Knicks. Bryant, the league's leading scorer, has topped 30 in nine straight games.The Lakers improved to 14-14 -- 9-9 under new coach Mike D'Antoni -- and upped their holiday record to 21-18, including 13-9 at home.The Knicks controlled most of the game behind Anthony and J.R. Smith, who had 24 points. But they struggled offensively in the fourth, when Anthony was limited to seven points, and Smith had five.Smith's 3-pointer pulled New York to 96-94. After Pau Gasol made one of two free throws, Smith missed another 3 that would have tied the game with 32 seconds left.Steve Nash had 16 points, 11 assists and six rebounds in his second game in nearly two months. He missed 24 games while recovering from a small fracture in his lower left leg. Dwight Howard had 14 points and 12 rebounds, and Gasol had 13 points and eight rebounds.Celtics 93, Nets 76NEW YORK (AP) -- Rajon Rondo scored 19 points in his first full game against Brooklyn this season, and Boston beat the Nets in another game with heated moments between the division rivals.Rondo, sidelined in the first meeting and thrown out of the second after shoving Nets forward Kris Humphries into the courtside seats, outplayed counterpart Deron Williams and helped the Celtics take control early.Rookie Jared Sullinger tied a career high with 16 points, and Jeff Green had 15 for the Celtics (14-13), who avoided falling under .500 with their second victory in six games.Gerald Wallace and Brook Lopez each scored 15 for the Nets, who have lost four of five.The Celtics took control with a 23-5 run in the second quarter. They had 11 assists on 13 baskets and outscored the Nets 34-18 in the period.A month after the teams scuffled in Boston, there was another skirmish in the fourth quarter that resulted in four technical fouls.Williams had only 10 points on 3-of-7 shooting, and Joe Johnson, his partner in a high-priced backcourt, shot 4 of 14 for his 12 points.Boston's Kevin Garnett had eight points and 10 rebounds on the day he tied Charles Oakley for 15th place on the NBA's career list with his 1,282nd game.Rockets 120, Bulls 97CHICAGO (AP) -- James Harden scored 26 points and Jeremy Lin added 20 points and 11 assists to lead Houston over Chicago. Omer Asik had 20 points and 18 rebounds in his first trip back to Chicago since signing with the Rockets in the offseason.Every Rockets starter scored in double figures. Chandler Parsons added 23 points and Marcus Morris had 10 for Houston, which has won six of seven.The Rockets had been 3-7 on the road, but a strong second quarter turned the holiday matchup into a blowout. The Rockets outscored the Bulls 31-19 in the period to break the game open.Lin capped a 14-2 run midway through the quarter with a drive and a layup to make it 55-34. He scored 12 in the second quarter and Harden had 13.Houston led 58-41 at halftime.Nate Robinson led the Bulls with 27 points, and Marco Belinelli scored 15. The points allowed and margin of defeat were season-worsts for Chicago.
The Bears addressed an open wound at the core of their special teams with the waiver of kicker Connor Barth and signing of former Kansas City Chiefs kicker Cairo Santos.
Not to spend too much time looking in the rearview mirror, but a question still lingers, the kind of inevitable second-guessing that follows any failed personnel decision, because so many of those moves made a lot of sense at the time: What were the Bears thinking when they opted at the end of the 2016 preseason to replace Robbie Gould with Barth?
An easy question to ask at this point, with Barth missing a game-tying field-goal try from 46 yards to leave the final Bears-Lions score at 27-24 on Sunday. It’s also easy to forget that Gould’s exit traced to a missed 36-yarder for a win over San Francisco to reach .500, followed a week later by a 50-yard miss for a tie to reach overtime against Washington. Even though Gould made his final seven field-goal attempts of that season, he missed two PATs during the 2016 preseason, reopening a confidence wound and sealing the deal, because when the head coach loses confidence in a player, that player is gone.
Easiest to forget, particularly right now, is that Barth converted 15 of 16 field-goal attempts in 2014 with the Denver Broncos — coached by John Fox. Barth was successful that year on four of his five attempts from beyond 40 yards, a range at which Sunday’s miss against Detroit left him 6-for-10 as a Bear.
Jettisoning Gould two years into the four-year, $15 million contract he signed in late 2013 wasn’t entirely about money. But it remains head-scratching if only because Gould was successful on 84.6 percent of his field goals in 2015. But in fairness to Fox, general manager Ryan Pace and Bears evaluators, Barth had been successful on 86.5 percent of his field goals (115-for-133) in the five seasons before the Bears signed him.
Jake Arrieta in a Brewers uniform?
That's not a sight Cubs fans would like to see, but the North Siders' I-94 rivals are apparently keen on trying to add Arrieta, the free-agent pitcher who's been one of the National League's top arms for the past several seasons.
Source: #Brewers showing interest in free agent Jake Arrieta. With Jimmy Nelson expected to miss portion of 2018 after shoulder surgery, team is looking for top-of-the-rotation upgrades. @MLB @MLBNetwork— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) November 20, 2017
#Brewers had payrolls in excess of $100 million earlier this decade; at present, commitments are ~ $32 million before arbitration raises, per Spotrac. They drew 2.6 million fans in 2017 and have the capacity to make a major addition. @MLB @MLBNetwork— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) November 20, 2017
The Cubs have their own decision to make on whether or not they're going to pursue re-signing Arrieta, a guy who over the past three seasons has posted a 2.71 ERA and struck out 589 batters, winning 54 games in 94 starts for a team that won the 2016 World Series and has advanced to three consecutive NL Championship Series.
The downside to losing Arrieta is obvious, as the Cubs would lose a huge part of their formidable starting rotation, but there would be an added downside if Arrieta were to remain in the NL Central and repeatedly haunt his former team.
Given Arrieta's track record, adding him would make sense for any team in the majors, but the Brewers in particular could use a front-of-the-line starting pitcher to boost their chances of besting the Cubs for the Central crown. The Brew Crew staged a surprising threat to do just that in 2017, perhaps proving that their rebuilding effort has yielded fruit ahead of schedule.
But there are questions in that rotation, with Jimmy Nelson expected to miss time next season after having shoulder surgery. Chase Anderson was great last season, and Zach Davies was solid, too. Brewers starters posted an ERA of 4.10 on the season, good for fifth in the NL. The four teams ahead of them, including the Cubs, all made the playoffs. Adding an arm as good as Arrieta's could make the difference in jumping past the Cubs in the Central and getting the Crew to the postseason for the first time since 2011.
And it'd be a plus for the Brewers to make it so Arrieta couldn't shut down their hitters anymore. In 15 career starts against the Crew, Arrieta is 8-4 with a 2.74 ERA. However, they'd surely love to have him call Miller Park home. He's never lost there in five starts, boasting a 2.03 ERA with 30 strikeouts.
There's an argument to be made that Arrieta would be able to seek revenge on the Cubs no matter what team he ends up pitching for, be it an NL team facing off against the Cubs in the playoffs or an American League squad meeting the Cubs in the World Series. After all, as Scott Boras put it, signing Arrieta is a ticket to "Playoffville."
But should Arrieta make the short drive to Wisconsin and set up shop in America's Dairyland, turning the Brewers into a legitimate playoff contender and challenger to the Cubs' grip on the NL Central crown? Well, consider the Cubs-Brewers rivalry cranked up to 11.