Bulls

Weather could have major effect on Fall Classic

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Weather could have major effect on Fall Classic

From Comcast SportsNet
ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Nolan Ryan kept tracking the storm, aware the radar showed green blobs moving closer and closer to Rangers Ballpark. Explaining the threat of rain, Big Tex sounded totally in his element. "There's a disturbance out in West Texas," the Rangers president pointed out before a recent playoff game. "I'm not a meteorologist, but they're talking about the south-to-north line." "So does it lose some of its energy?" he said. "I think there's going to be some heat build-up showers, popup showers." Playfully, someone asked Ryan whether he could do that well in front of a map. Kind of like a real-live weatherman. "You know, if this job doesn't work out," the CEO, president and part-owner of the Texas Rangers said, "maybe they could use somebody." With Texas and St. Louis starting up the World Series this week, Major League Baseball might take the help. The forecast for Game 1 Wednesday night at Busch Stadium was daunting: Temperatures dropping through the 40s, a decent chance of rain, a lot of wind. Play or Ppd? Talk about October pressure -- the barometric kind, that is. After a season that included more than 50 rainouts, MLB's highest total since 1997, bad weather intruded in the playoffs. A game at Yankee Stadium was stopped in the second inning and suspended until the following day. A game at Texas was postponed because rain was lingering -- too bad for the teams and fans, those showers never came. Getting it exactly right isn't easy, Paul Gross said. He's a meteorologist with WDIV-TV in Detroit and has been helping the Tigers with their forecasts since the days when Sparky Anderson was their manager. "There is a tremendous amount of weather information on the Internet these days. Everyone has access to it, everyone can try to be a weatherman," he said. "But the average person, without any formal training in meteorology, doesn't understand that things can change very dramatically." "We have a joke in this business: 'Don't try this at home,'" he said. No matter, check the stands at any ballpark when the skies turn dark. Fans whip out their cell phones, put the maps in motion and make their own predictions. Players, too, turn into amateur weathermen. Boston slugger David Ortiz has been known to dial up the radar and study the multicolored blobs and bands that show precipitation. In Michigan, Gross said, the breezes off the Great Lakes can cause sudden shifts. The challenge is trying to plot them, seeing if those oft-invoked "windows" will show up. During the 2006 World Series, Gross found himself in a room with MLB officials and managers Tony La Russa of the Cardinals and Jim Leyland of the Tigers. Rain was dotting the area and everyone wanted to know whether it would dampen Comerica Park. "People often ask about scattered showers, whether it will rain on them," he said. "I tell them it's like I'm holding a handful of coins in the living room. If I toss them in the air, I know that they'll definitely come down on the rug. I just can't be sure where." Keeping people safe at the stadium is the main goal, Gross said. Lightning can pose a particular danger -- "remember, you have electronics on the field for pregame festivities," Gross said. The Cardinals and Rangers, like many other teams, consult with local meteorologists for forecasts. MLB checks the computer, relying on WeatherBug.com. "It also looks at other services, too," said Katy Feeney, senior vice president in the commissioner's office. "They'll also talk to the ground crew, who'll look at their radar. But the meteorologist Major League Baseball uses is WeatherBug." When it comes to decide whether to postpone or suspend a postseason game, a lot of people are in the room. Club executives, umpires, television officials and MLB representatives can all express opinions -- ultimately, baseball makes the call. Texas starter C.J. Wilson was set to pitch at Busch Stadium for the first time in Game 1. "Well, Texas and St. Louis have similar summer climates. It's humid, it's hot," he said. "I haven't really pitched in cold weather too often, but you wear sleeves and put on a jacket in the dugout and that's pretty much all you can do." Chris Carpenter was ready to start the opener for the Cardinals. "You deal with weather like this in the beginning of the season. It's no different. Go out and pitch," he said. "I'm going to be nice and warm anyways because I'll be all warmed up doing my thing, and I'm not concerned about what the weather is doing, unless it's raining and we don't get to play. That's no fun. Hopefully, it doesn't do that."

Zach LaVine's conditioning at '70 percent' but still on schedule

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USA TODAY

Zach LaVine's conditioning at '70 percent' but still on schedule

Everybody saw the play, that awkward instance where Zach LaVine looked ready for his second dunk of the season but was fouled from behind by Atlanta’s Taurean Prince.

It looked as if LaVine was ready for liftoff but one of his jets misfired, sparking at least the thought of his recovery from his ACL injury being a bit off—but he laughed at the thought.

“I don’t know why everybody keeps talking about it,” LaVine said Sunday at New Orleans’ Smoothie King Center, where the Bulls held practice. “The dude stepped on the back of my foot, so I couldn’t get off the ground. Everybody’s wondering if I’m okay, yeah. I just missed a fouled layup.”

The adrenaline from his first two games have worn off a bit, and he missed his first four shots from the field Saturday before hitting a couple in the start of the third quarter in the Bulls’ 113-97 win over the Hawks.

He looked winded a few times during his stint and admitted his conditioning isn’t where it should be—as expected given he’s missed 11 months of real basketball. He said his conditioning is at about “70 percent”, and you can certainly see it in his jump shot not being as fluid as it was last season in Minnesota.

“It was feeling good in practice but in games it’s seventy,” LaVine said. “Playing defense, getting back, running the break, just getting used to it.”

Add to it, the Bulls cover the most halfcourt ground of any team in the NBA with their set offense and Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg has long said he’s not slowing down his offense while LaVine is in.

The shooting guard will have to catch up to the pace, and it’ll probably be better for him in the long run.

“I think it’s just ‘okay’ and rightfully so,” said Hoiberg about LaVine’s conditioning. “It’s impossible to simulate game action in practices when you’re doing individual workouts. Every time he plays that conditioning will ramp up. As he plays, it’ll get better and better. And he’s such a good and natural athlete, it’ll come back quickly.”

Hoiberg isn’t concerned about the variances in LaVine’s performances. He came out the gate with such force and adrenaline in his debut against Detroit and two days later against Miami, but it’s tailed off against Golden State and then Atlanta.

“I think Zach’s doing great,” Hoiberg said. “You look around the league where players have come back from significant injuries, he’s gonna be up and down. His first two games he’s been unbelievable. A couple games he hasn’t shot the ball great. He played unselfish basketball last night.”

LaVine’s minutes has been extended to 24 from 20, and he’ll still practice in the off-days as the Bulls want to keep his rehab on schedule as opposed to having him play heavy minutes initially.

He’ll be re-evaluated after Wednesday’s game in Philadelphia and could see his minutes rise before the Bulls host the Lakers Friday at the United Center.

“I should just get used to it,” LaVine said. “Just getting used to the swing of things. It takes a second for your body to get adjusted to it.”

Three Things to Watch: Bulls visit Pelicans

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Three Things to Watch: Bulls visit Pelicans

Here are Three Things to Watch when the Bulls take on the New Orleans Pelicans tonight on NBC Sports Chicago and streaming live on the NBC Sports app. Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. with Pregame Live.

1. Anthony Davis

The five-time All-Star just continues to improve. While he's not averaging career-highs in any major category, no one's going to scoff at his 26.7 points, 10.5 rebounds, 1.1 steals and 2.1 blocks in 36 minutes per game. He's shooting nearly 56 percent from the field and is on pace for a career-best in 3-pointers made, which is a pretty impressive statistic. Lauri Markkanen will have his hands full, and it may be in the Bulls' best interest to get Nikola Mirotic some early minutes to try and get physical with Davis. There's no real way to slow him down.

2. DeMarcus Cousins

And if the Bulls should so happen to get lucky and slow down Davis, there's another All-Star starter waiting alongside him. Boogie Cousins has been every bit as good as Davis this season, averaging 25.3 points, 12.7 rebounds and 5.1 assists in 36 minutes. He's certainly not as efficient as Davis (47 percent from the field, 5.0 turnovers) but is deadly inside. He's shooting a career-best 52.8 percent on 2-pointers this season, and his 1.6 steals and 1.6 blocks make him a serviceable defender (although the Bulls could certainly stretch their offense to make him work more).

3. Rajon Rondo

Rondo hasn't been great in his first season with the Pellies, but perhaps he's turning things around. Beginning with his absurd 25-assist game just after Christmas, Rondo is averaging 7.4 points, 8.2 assists and 1.0 steal per game. He's allowed Jrue Holiday to play more off the ball, and while his defense is nothing to write home about he's logging solid minutes for a Pelicans team woefully short in the backcourt.