Bulls

Yankees have big problems with their rotation

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Yankees have big problems with their rotation

From Comcast SportsNet
NEW YORK (AP) -- That healthy lead the New York Yankees built up in the first half of the season is about to get tested. The Bronx Bombers put CC Sabathia on the disabled list before their game on Wednesday, and are set to make the same move with fellow starting pitcher Andy Pettitte after he fractured a bone in his left leg when he was hit by a batted ball in the Yankees' 5-4 win over the Cleveland Indians. On one of the most unfortunate days of this season for a team that has had some seriously lousy pitching luck, manager Joe Girardi appeared optimistic. He had some reason to be: His team was still up by 4 1-2 games on Baltimore in the AL East before the Orioles played later Wednesday night. "If we have to score some runs, we'll score some runs," Girardi said. They are probably going to have to score some runs. Right-hander Adam Warren is set to be called up from Triple-A on Thursday to make the start on Friday in Sabathia's place. Freddy Garcia is slated to go Monday in Pettitte's spot, and the Yankees are getting David Phelps to pitch deeper into games in the minors with an eye toward bringing him back to the big club as a starter. Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said he didn't want to make a trade to replace Pettitte in the rotation. Garcia has improved his velocity and command recently, and has been an effective starter most of his career. That includes a start in a playoff game he made for New York last season. "Phelps is a guy, who, if he were stretched out, would be our prime candidate," Cashman said. "We'll just have to figure it out. I would prefer not to go outside." Pettitte will be gone for much longer than Sabathia, who is only expected to miss two starts while on the 15-day DL because he strained his groin. Pettitte could even be placed on the 60-day DL, though the team estimated his earliest return after six weeks. The Yankees say they expect the break to heal without surgery. Casey Kotchman's low line drive hit Pettitte near his left ankle, the one the left-hander pushes off with. Pettitte took a step toward the ball near the third base line before gently dropping to the infield grass. Pettitte tried to stay in the game, but Girardi removed him when Pettitte came up limping after throwing one live pitch. Pettitte, who spoke to reporters after the game on crutches -- while clutching a tiny plastic bag with a few white pills in it -- said it hurt too much to push off properly when he was facing a batter. "I've been hit in the shin, in that area, so many times and I've never had to come out of a game," Pettitte said. "As soon as I threw that first pitch, I had an awful lot of pain, all the way down to my foot." Pettitte (3-3) retired after the 2010 postseason but returned to the Yankees this spring to shore up New York's pitching rotation, which at the time had already lost Michael Pineda to shoulder surgery. Pettitte, who has a 243-141 career record, is in his 14th season with New York. With Pettitte out, Derek Jeter is now the only Yankee on the field from the club's core four of players who won four World Series titles from 1996-2000. New York closer Mariano Rivera is out because of a season-ending knee injury, and Jorge Posada retired. "No one is going to feel sorry for us," Girardi said. "Guys have to step up." Although Sabathia is the better pitcher, the Yankees may be better able to weather his absence if he misses only two starts. Sabathia felt a twinge in the muscle on the inside of his left leg in the fourth inning of Sunday's win over the New York Mets. He didn't tell anyone about it until he still felt discomfort following a bullpen session Tuesday as he prepared for his next start. "I wanted to go out and pitch Friday, but it's early in the season and I want to be healthy," Sabathia said. Sabathia said he completed his bullpen session, and the injury didn't alter his throwing motion, though "it didn't feel good." Sabathia has been durable throughout his 12 seasons -- this is his third trip to the DL, following two with Cleveland. The most recent one was six years ago, when he missed the first month of the season because of a right oblique strain. He won the AL Cy Young the following year, and the Indians came within one win of taking the AL pennant. They traded Sabathia the following season. He has been healthy for the Yankees until now, and if it had been September or October in the midst of a pennant race, that likely would have been the case. But in June and with the Yankees in first place, Cashman said there is no need for the Yankees to put their ace at risk of aggravating the injury. "It was a one-way conversation," Cashman said. "I did all the talking. I know what he wants to do, but this is what we're going to do." The Yankees have lost enough pitchers to injury this season. Pineda is out for the season after having shoulder surgery -- before he even pitched in a big league game following an offseason trade from Seattle. Rivera tore his ACL and damaged the meniscus when his foot caught near the outfield wall while he was catching fly balls during batting practice before a game in Kansas City. Despite all that, the Yankees have won 15 of 18 games and lead the tough AL East. "We have a pretty experienced club," Girardi said. "We lost the greatest closer of all time, we were able to respond."

Bulls Talk Podcast: Will Kris Dunn build off career night?

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USA TODAY

Bulls Talk Podcast: Will Kris Dunn build off career night?

On this edition of the Bulls Talk podcast, Mark Schanowski, Kendall Gill, and Kevin Anderson react to a breakout game from Kris Dunn against the Hornets Friday night. They’ll discuss his development and how it impacts rookie Lauri Markkanen. Plus just how long will both the Wolves and Bulls be judged on the Jimmy Butler trade? Is Dwight Howard a hall of famer? And a new era in Philly with Simmons and Embiid. That and more on this edition of the Bulls Talk podcast.

Observations from Bulls-Hornets: Kris Dunn, a sigh of relief and hack-a-who?

Observations from Bulls-Hornets: Kris Dunn, a sigh of relief and hack-a-who?

Kris Dunn did it: You can’t play that position without an edge, without some form of “basketball killer” in you. Kris Dunn showed at the very least, he has that in his DNA in his best game as a Bull with a career-high 22 points, seven assists and five rebounds.

Leave it to Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg to point out a forgotten stat: one turnover in 26 minutes.

“That’s the biggest thing I’m proud of,” Dunn said. “Everyone knows I’ve had a lot of careless turnovers in the season. It’s one thing I’ll take credit for.”

Dunn scored 13 with six assists in the fourth quarter alone as the Bulls outscored the Hornets 40-28 for the comeback victory. More than anything, it was his competitive spirit and aggressiveness that stood out. Kemba Walker stood across the way and gave Dunn—and the Bulls—every bit of 47 points.

“He tested my conditioning, for sure,” Dunn admitted. “He’s a great player. He’s been in the league for so long. It was good to go out there and compete with him.”

It could’ve went a different way had Walker not been bothered by Lauri Markkanen’s challenge at the rim, blowing a layup that would’ve given the Hornets the lead back with seconds remaining but he missed it and the narrative changed at least for a night.

And when teams are talking about learning experiences, it’s good to have them in a win every now and again. Markkanen’s challenge at the rim followed by his closing free throws right after, along with a quietly effective 16 points and seven rebounds, proved huge on this night.

Dunn finally having a confidence booster was imperative.

Dunn scored but it wasn’t an easy 20 or a smooth 20. It was an attacking 20, a necessary 20. He did hit some elbow jumpers, especially in the fourth as the defense laid off him.

But his biggest basket was a slithering drive to the rim for a layup with 2:24 left, because he attacked and was under control.

“That’s huge growth for Kris,” Hoiberg said. “He made the right play darn near every time he had the ball in his hands. Rose up with confidence, knocked down huge shots. Defensively got them going, got steals.”

What a relief: Nobody wanted to say it, but it bore out on the floor, the sheer desperation the Bulls played with.

Coming in with a five-game losing streak and headed out west to for four games in the next week, they were staring in the face of a possible double-digit losing streak to end November.

Confidence was sparse after three bad losses, and it’s a dangerous time for a team that will struggle to win games all season.

The United Center crowd got into it, particularly late when the Bulls began climbing back into contention to start the fourth quarter. The fans wanted this win too, even with the eyes being on a larger prize coming in mid-2018.

The relief was written all over Hoiberg’s usually-stress ridden face and he even cracked a couple jokes that weren’t aimed in his direction, as self-deprecation is normally his escape of choice.

“It is important but I asked the guys: is it hard to play with that type of effort? When you play with that type of energy and effort and swagger, it’s fun,” Hoiberg said. “When you play low energy and hang your head, it’s a drag. It’s hard to play at this level with that mentality.”

Starting change: Justin Holiday returned after his quick leave with his wife delivering a baby girl recently and his game-high 27 points showed he missed the Bulls as much as they missed his shooting, hitting four triples and going 10 for 15 from the field.

“Guys were serious about getting their jobs done,” Holiday said. “It was a lot of energy, a lot of energy, competitiveness. That’s how we have to play every night for our team to do well.”

Denzel Valentine, although he didn’t want to say it, wants to be a starter. Hoiberg chose Quincy Pondexter over him recently and then made the change Friday to insert Valentine for more scoring.

Valentine scored 18 with six assists and five rebounds in 32 minutes of run—and with those two starting as scoring options, the Bulls surpassed that seven-point first-quarter mark really early and scored 26 overall.

He hit a big triple in the fourth with 2:49 left to give the Bulls a 110-109 lead on a set play the Bulls actually executed between Valentine, Dunn as a setup man and Robin Lopez as a screen to pop Valentine open.

If he continues to hit 3-pointers at a 40 percent clip, especially with the way the Bulls have struggled to start games, he’ll have the right to feel he belongs in the first five.

“It’s definitely more confidence,” Valentine said. “You feel you’re an NBA starter, you get to go in and feel it out for a second and bring some energy to start the game.”

He didn’t mince words about starting, with a little honesty saying, “I think it’s huge being a starter.”

When asked if he felt validated by his performance and the result being a high-scoring win, it was just as telling.

“I think I deserve…I think I deserved a starting role,” Valentine said. “At the same time it’s different combinations, different people that need to be on the floor at certain times, so if he feels like I don’t need to start, I won’t start. But I feel very comfortable starting as well.”

Hack-a-Dwight: It could be Hack-a-Dwight, hack-a-Drummond, hack-a-Wilt or Shaq or Charles Shackleford.

The Bulls went to it and Howard went two of four from the line but it took a little rhythm from the Hornets and probably slowed Kemba Walker down just enough before he got cooking in the last 90 seconds and almost pulled a win out of his keister.

But…

I hate it. Get it out of the game completely.