Bulls

Cowboys-Steelers ends in thrilling fashion...

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Cowboys-Steelers ends in thrilling fashion...

From Comcast SportsNetARLINGTON, Texas (AP) -- Brandon Carr found a way to silence thousands of Terrible Towel-waving Pittsburgh fans at Cowboys Stadium and send the Dallas crowd home happy.The Cowboys cornerback intercepted a Ben Roethlisberger pass in overtime, returned it 36 yards to the 1, and Dan Bailey kicked a 21-yard field goal for a 27-24 win over the Steelers on Sunday.Bailey's kick -- 1:24 into OT -- won a game for the second straight week since Dallas practice squad linebacker Jerry Brown was killed in a one-car accident that led to manslaughter charges against teammate Josh Brent.The win pulled the Cowboys (8-6) into a three-way tie for first place in the NFC East with the Giants and Redskins with two games left in the season. Dallas has won five of its last six."Those are the plays you dream about in the backyard, making the game-winning interception or touchdown," Carr said.Carr, who said he was anticipating Roethlisberger's throw to Mike Wallace because Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley was his coach in Kansas City, made a diving catch and jumped up along the Pittsburgh sideline. Legions of black-and-gold clad fans on that side of the stadium watched as Carr ran it back and was stopped inches short of the goal line.The winning kick came after Tony Romo, who broke the 25,000-yard passing milestone earlier in the game, took a knee to put Bailey in better position.Bailey beat Cincinnati 20-19 last week with a 40-yarder as time expired, just a day after the accident that killed Brown.The Steelers (7-7) lost for the fourth time in five games and trail AFC North rival Cincinnati by a game for the second wild card spot. They host the Bengals next week. Roethlisberger is 0-2 since returning from a three-game absence with shoulder and rib injuries."There won't be any quit from us, especially from me," Roethlisberger said. "This one is going to sting real bad. It will hopefully make me and make us better."The defining play came from a Dallas defense playing without six injured starters, the latest being Carr's playing partner on the other side, first-round pick Morris Claiborne. The rookie was sidelined after sustaining a concussion against the Bengals."I really can't explain it. It's something destined about this team," defensive end Jason Hatcher said. "You look back there and you don't know nobody back there behind you."The score was tied 24-all in the final two minutes of regulation. Pittsburgh quickly moved to its 46 after a completion by Roethlisberger and a roughing-the-passer penalty against DeMarcus Ware.But Sean Lissemore and Anthony Spencer sacked Roethlisberger on consecutive plays to give the Cowboys the ball back."Everyone has seen Ben do that in the fourth quarter multiple times," Dallas defensive end Marcus Spears said. "We knew we had to go back there and affect him in the pocket and at least try to get in his way. Fortunately, those turned into some sacks for us."Dallas, playing with Brent watching from the sideline and Brown's No. 53 jersey draped on their bench and his number on a helmet decal, couldn't do anything in the final minute.The drive stalled at the Steelers 43, and Bailey lined up for a 61-yard field goal attempt with 32 seconds left. But the Cowboys called timeout and punted instead. Roethlisberger took a knee, sending the game to overtime.Roethlisberger was sacked four times and finished 24 of 40 for 339 yards with two touchdowns and an interception."We're still in the same situation we started in before we came," said Wallace, who had 95 yards receiving, including a 60-yarder to set up a touchdown. "We know we win these last two games, we're still in the tournament."Earlier in the fourth quarter, Pittsburgh was driving for a go-ahead score when Ware and Spencer sacked Roethlisberger at the Dallas 40, forcing a punt with three minutes left. The Cowboys opted to punt at the two-minute warning after a third-down pass to Dwayne Harris was less than a yard short of the first down.Roethlisberger put the Steelers ahead 24-17 with a 7-yard scoring pass to Antonio Brown, and Brown was about to put Pittsburgh in control with a long punt return.But Brown fumbled when Victor Butler reached out and knocked the ball loose at the end of a 22-yard return. DeMarco Murray, who had 81 yards on 14 carries, then went in on a 3-yard run."There was about five or six guys, all in black and yellow," Butler said. "And I see the punter and me and the long snapper and I figure I am probably the best tackler out of the three. It was time to make a play."Dez Bryant extended his touchdown streak to six games while playing with a broken left index finger, a 24-yard score that put Romo over 25,000 yards for his career and gave Dallas a 10-0 lead.Roethlisberger pulled the Steelers even at 10 before halftime. He stepped away from pressure and used a couple of pump fakes to keep pass rushers away before finding Heath Miller wide open along the sideline on a 30-yard score."We still have a chance to right our wrongs here with two games left," Miller said. "We're just going to keep chipping away at it."NOTES:The first Dallas touchdown was the first scoring connection from Romo to Jason Witten this season. ... Steelers CB DeMarcus Van Dyke injured a shoulder on Pittsburgh's first punt less than two minutes into the game and didn't return. ... Dallas rookie TE James Hanna had two career catches for two key grabs on the Cowboys' first touchdown drive. ... The Grambling State band spelled out "JB" in honor of Brown at halftime. ... Cowboys LB Ernie Sims sustained a concussion in the first half and didn't return. ... Attendance was 95,595, a season high at Cowboys Stadium.

With revamped roster, Bulls begin quest for playoffs on road vs. Hornets

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USA Today

With revamped roster, Bulls begin quest for playoffs on road vs. Hornets

CHARLOTTE, N.C. --- On April 28, 2017, the Celtics ended the Bulls’ lone season of what Rajon Rondo brilliantly called “The Three Alphas,” closing out the first-round playoff series in six games.

As the Bulls begin their 54th season in franchise history Wednesday in Charlotte, N.C., only Denzel Valentine and Cristiano Felicio remain from that roster.

When John Paxson first succeeded Jerry Krause in April 2003, he took two years to similarly flip the roster, keeping only Tyson Chandler and Eddy Curry.

This makeover was Paxson’s doing, beginning with the June 2017 trade of Jimmy Butler to the Timberwolves. His last complete overhaul produced 10 playoff appearances in 11 seasons, albeit with only five series victories in that span.

Wednesday night begins the quest for sustained success.

“We have revamped this roster in a big way and a way in that we can look at this team and we see real talent,” Paxson said back on the team’s media day in late September. “We see a versatile roster. We see depth on this roster. We see some leadership on this roster which we haven’t had.

“And because of that our goals this year are really simple. First and foremost, we want to compete at a high, high level. And when you compete at a high level, you have an ability to be a playoff-caliber team. And we set that as a goal. (Coach) Jim (Boylen) talks about it. He’s not afraid of it. And our guys through their work have shown us that they want to make that commitment. So we feel good about that.”

There’s plenty to feel good about during a preseason. That’s when each team’s regular-season record is unblemished. The tests start for real against the Hornets, followed by Friday’s visit to Memphis.

Four of the Bulls’ first five games are on the road but all are against teams that didn’t qualify for the playoffs last season. Saturday’s home opener is against the defending NBA champion Raptors, who defeated the Pelicans in overtime Tuesday night in their first game since Kawhi Leonard left for the Clippers.

Plenty has to go right for the Bulls to make the jump from 22 victories to the playoffs. Zach LaVine and Lauri Markkanen need to step towards stardom. Tomas Satoransky and Thad Young need to continue being the low-maintenance complementary pieces they've shown to be during their careers. Otto Porter Jr. and Wendell Carter Jr. need to stay healthy. Coby White and Kris Dunn need to contribute off the bench.

Still, the bottom portion of the Eastern Conference playoff picture is wide open. The Bulls know this. It’s why Boylen indeed gave voice to the goal on that same September media day.

“Our goals for the season are to make the playoffs,” Boylen said then. “And every day to prepare like we’re a playoff team. Every day to work like we’re a playoff-bound team. I’m excited for that. I think that’s the only way to do it. There’s no way that we were going to stand up here and say, ‘Hey, I hope we can win 10 more games or we hope we can be better.’ We want to get to the mountain top.’’

The games count for real starting Wednesday. It’s time to start climbing.

Source: Cubs set to hire David Ross as new manager

Source: Cubs set to hire David Ross as new manager

According to David Kaplan, the Cubs have made their decision on a new manager. And to no surprise, they've landed on David Ross.

Ross was widely speculated as the heir apparent to Joe Maddon and that's exactly how the situation has played out. The team also interviewed current bench coach Mark Loretta, first-base coach Will Venable and former Cubs player and Yankees manager Joe Girardi.

Ross retired after the 2016 season and has spent the last three seasons working in a special assistant role in Theo Epstein's front office while also serving as an MLB analyst/broadcaster for ESPN. He has not coached or managed at any level. 

During his two years as a player with the Cubs, Ross was an integral part of changing the culture inside the clubhouse and is revered as a legendary leader to all the young players that came up and helped end the 108-year championship drought. Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant affectionately dubbed him "Grandpa Rossy" and he rode that popularity on the shoulders of his teammates in a Rudy-esque celebration after Game 7 and then a stint on "Dancing with the Stars." Every time he is shown on the video board at Wrigley Field, it elicits a deafening cheer from Cubs fans.

Even three years since he last donned the uniform, Ross' impact remains and the Cubs have been searching for the type of clubhouse leadership he provided. Earlier this season, Javy Baez brought up Ross unprompted, mentioning advice from his former teammate that he still thinks about on a daily basis.

The question was never really if and more about when Ross was going to get a chance to manage the Cubs in the future. Just last fall, he was brought up as a potential option to replace Brandon Hyde as Maddon's bench coach, but Ross still wanted to spend time with family in retirement and wasn't yet ready to commit to the grind of a long season. 

Still, Epstein mentioned at the GM Meetings last November that he and the front office were pushing Ross to be around the team more in 2019. GM Jed Hoyer followed that up at the Winter Meetings in December talking about how much of an impact Ross has on these players and the level of trust that's already inherent within this group.

Apparently, Ross is now willing and able to put in the 7-to-8 month time commitment to step in as the Cubs' new manager. When it was officially announced Maddon would not be returning, Ross was on ESPN's Baseball Tonight and expressed interest in the job and Epstein confirmed the next day Ross was on the team's list of managerial candidates.

Epstein mentioned he would prefer hiring a manager with big-league experience and the main theme of his end-of-season press conference was all about change, not hanging their hats on 2016 and climbing out of the "winner's trap." But they still opted for Ross as the organization's new field general.

"I always have greater comfort level hiring for roles in which the person has done the role before, especially with manager," Epstein said on the final day of September. "I think there are ways for that to be overcome. There’s a lot of different ways to get experience in this game. Beliefs, skills, personal attributes, those can outweigh a lack of experience, but experience certainly helps.

“David Ross has a lot of great things going for him, I would say. His connection to the players on this team, and especially his connection to the 2016 team, are not necessarily assets that distinguish him. Those are not necessarily things that are gonna be important to us.

“I think Rossy is a really attractive candidate, and he’s gonna be evaluated on the merits, what he can bring to the table as a major league manager given his skills, given his experiences, given his world-view, given what he knows about winning, all those things.”

We now know how that evaluation process has played out.

The question now becomes — how would the Cubs players handle Ross as a manager, moving from friend and teammate to boss? 

We'll find out in the coming months.