Bears

'Linsanity' continues in heroic fashion

665638.jpg

'Linsanity' continues in heroic fashion

From Comcast SportsNet
TORONTO (AP) -- Already writing the NBA's best story, Jeremy Lin has now scripted a thrilling finish. Nothing about the kid from Harvard should be a surprise anymore. When he launched a 3-pointer in a tie game with a half-second left in Toronto on Tuesday night, the result seemed obvious. "I knew it was going in," Knicks guard Iman Shumpert said. Who would doubt it at this point? Lin's 3-pointer capped his finishing flurry of six straight points to close the game as the Knicks rallied for a 90-87 victory over the Raptors, extending their winning streak to six. Their season sputtering just two weeks ago, before Lin escaped the bench, the Knicks (14-15) can get back to .500 with a victory over Sacramento on Wednesday. And with Lin running their show, that's exactly what they expect. "He continues to impress every night," New York's Jared Jeffries said. "Every game he plays better, he does more and more to help us win basketball games. You can't ask any more of a kid coming into this situation." Huge in New York, Linsanity was even bigger in Toronto, whose international community couldn't wait for a look at the NBA's first American-born player of Chinese or Taiwanese descent. A season-high crowd of 20,092 was only the Raptors' second sellout of the season, and some 75 reporters and 16 cameras packed a Tuesday morning press conference to hear Lin speak. "Are we in the playoffs now?" coach Mike D'Antoni joked as he made his way to the front of the room. Not yet, but they sure have a shot now with Lin. The reigning Eastern Conference player of the week scored 27 points and added a career-high 11 assists, shaking off a sloppy first half to carry the Knicks down the stretch. Toronto led 87-82 with less than two minutes to go when Shumpert stole the ball from Jose Calderon and drove in for an uncontested dunk. After a missed shot, Lin completed a three-point play, tying it at 87 with 1:05 left. Leandro Barbosa missed a 3 for Toronto and, at the other end, Shumpert missed a jumper but Tyson Chandler grabbed the rebound. Lin took the ball near midcourt and let the clock run down to 5 seconds before driving and pulling up against Calderon to bury the decisive shot. "You just watch and you're in awe," D'Antoni said. "He held it until five-tenths of a second left. He was pretty confident that was going in, no rebounds, no nothing. That ball was being buried." Lin, cut by both Golden State and Houston in December, struggled early. He didn't score for the first eight minutes of the game, then turned the ball over on three straight possessions early in the second quarter and Toronto took advantage with a 6-0 run, widening its lead to 13 points. That was long forgotten by the end. "When he hit that shot it was simply amazing, we were hugging at midcourt like we'd won a championship," said Amare Stoudemire, who scored 21 points after missing four games following the death of an older brother in a Florida car crash. Scouts and general managers may have missed Lin when he went undrafted two years ago, but people all over the NBA are watching him now. The reaction to his winner on Twitter was similar to one of LeBron James' or Blake Griffin's huge dunks. "It's crazy!" Phoenix guard Steve Nash wrote. "I'm watching Linsanity hoping every shot goes in. Hope I never grow up." But Lin deflects the praise to his teammates, even though they were going nowhere until he started getting real minutes on Feb. 4. "It's not because of me, it's because we're coming together as a team," Lin said. "We started making these steps earlier but we were still losing close games and so obviously it wasn't fun. But when you win, that solves a lot of problems. We've been winning and we've been playing together."

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

usatsi_10349127.jpg
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?

Dry humping and second-guessing: Joe Maddon defends his Game 2 bullpen decisions

Dry humping and second-guessing: Joe Maddon defends his Game 2 bullpen decisions

Joe Maddon has no easy decisions.

With the way his tattered bullpen has pitched this postseason, there's a very real possibility that any guy he calls on to pitch is the "wrong" guy or the right guy in the "wrong" spot.

For everybody wanting Maddon to ride Wade Davis as a workhorse this fall — something the Cubs skipper has already done just to get to this NLCS — remember how much flak he took for overusing Aroldis Chapman a year ago at this time.

Davis also hasn't been superhuman this postseason, allowing a pair of runs (including a homer) and seven baserunners in 4.1 playoff innings, good for a 4.15 ERA and 1.62 WHIP.

So when Maddon sat in the dugout late Sunday evening watching helplessly as John Lackey served up a walk-off homer to Tormund Giantsbane Justin Turner, the "Madd Scientist" immediately found himself in the crosshairs of Cubs fans and the media.

The first question he fielded in his postgame press conference was about not using Davis and there were several follow-ups. That and the offensive futility is about all anybody wanted to talk about after the Cubs fell down 0-2 in the NLCS.

Maddon explained Davis was available only in a save situation due to workload issues — the Cubs closer was in uncharted territory Thursday night/Friday morning, throwing the most pitches (44) and innings (2.1) he's thrown since Aug. 24, 2013 when he was still working as a starter. That's a span of 1,511 days.

"Wade knew that going into the game, it was going to be with the say," Maddon said. "We caught the lead, he's in the game. So whatever the narrative was, it's really a false narrative. He was not coming into that game until we grabbed the lead. He was not going to pitch more than three outs. That's it."

How does Maddon respond to his second-guessers?

"Doesn't matter," Maddon said. "First of all, social media, the moment I start worrying about that, I really need to retire. Second of all, that was all predetermined [Sunday] night again."

Davis also has a recent history of arm troubles (he was on the disabled list twice in 2016 for a forearm issue) and also saw his workload jump in September just to help the Cubs get to the postseason. In the final month of the regular season, Davis threw 237 pitches, 42 more than he threw in any other month of 2017. The last time he topped 200 pitches in any month was May 2015.

TV cameras showed Davis throwing in the Cubs bullpen alongside Lackey at one point in the ninth inning, leading to surprise by a huge faction of the (*looks around and whispers*) social media fanbase when the game broadcast resumed after commercials and the pitching change was to bring Lackey — not Davis — into the game.

"Wade was not warming up to come in that game," Maddon said. "Wade was probably just testing his arm at that point. We had talked about it before the game — up and in. 

"For those that aren't involved in Major League Baseball and professional baseball in general, when a guy's throwing too much, it's very important to not dry hump him, as the saying goes. Get him up and put him back down and bring him back in later. So I wasn't going to do that."

(Wow, really was not expecting to hear or write the phrase "dry hump" regarding this story.)

Maddon insists health is not the problem with Davis.

"Yes [he's healthy]. Oh yeah," Maddon said. "Listen, this guy just did yeoman kind of work — I love that word — in Washington and was not prepared to go more than three outs. I don't understand why that's difficult to understand.

"And furthermore, you have to also understand it wasn't the last game of the year or the second to last game. It was about winning eight more games. All these things are factors."

Maddon has a point. This isn't a Buck Showalter case where the Baltimore Orioles manager failed to use his best reliever — Zach Britton — in a non-save situation in a winner-take-all American League wild card game because he wanted the closer to be ready for a save.

The Cubs went down in a game that was tied 1-1 with their best reliever failing to get in the game even though he hadn't pitched in the last two days. 

But Davis can't cover every inning in relief, especially when the Cubs' two starters (Jose Quintana and Jon Lester) lasted just 9.2 innings against the Dodgers, leaving the Cubs bullpen to account for the other 8+ innings somehow.

The rest of the Cubs bullpen has to step up, too, which they did before the ninth inning of Game 2.

Still, Maddon couldn't resist getting one more defensive shot in before putting the matter to bed:

"I really hope you all understand that social media doesn't count at all," he said. "Twitter doesn't count at all. And really, as sportswriters, you should do a better job than relying on Twitter to write a story, quite frankly."

Well then.