White Sox

Devils confidence continues to grow after Game 5 victory

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Devils confidence continues to grow after Game 5 victory

NEWARK, N.J. Why not us?

New Jersey Devils coach Peter DeBoer posed that question heading into Game 5. Why shouldnt his Devils come back to win this series, come back and make history? But down 3-1 at the time there was more of a suggestion than a possibility.

Well, with another victory, that potential grows.

Bryce Salvadors seeing-eye shot proved to be the game-winner, and Martin Brodeur was stellar again as the Devils beat the Los Angeles Kings 2-1 in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Finals on Saturday night. The Devils have clawed their way back and now trail 3-2 in the best-of-seven series; and the possibility of them joining the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs in overcoming a 3-0 deficit to win a Cup is not just a passing thought anymore.

Stressful? Nail-biting? Anxiety-ridden? These last two contests have been all that and more. But the results are a great incentive.

Its a difficult thing to get ready for games like that, now two in a row. It drains you a lot, takes a lot out of you. But its worth it, Brodeur said. Everyones constantly getting themselves ready and leaving it all out there. Its exciting, to do what were doing. Were having a great deal of fun. But we havent done anything yet. Thats why its important to keep it on the low key, keep grinding it out and well be just fine.

And the why-not-us mentality keeps increasing in the Devils locker room.

Its growing with every period, every goal we score, Devils defenseman Mark Fayne said. Were just working hard and its paying off.

That, and theyre getting those coveted breaks and bounces. Jonathan Quick semi-whiffed when he tried to clear the puck on a Devils power play, and Zach Parise was there to turn the turnover into a 1-0 lead. And Salvadors game-winning shot went off Slava Voynov, the second time this series a puck has deflected off the Kings defenseman and past Quick.

And just like that, the team that was so close to being knocked out is right back in it.

One thing about our group is that, you know, they believe that we can win. They believe we can win every game we play if we play the right way, DeBoer said It's just a matter of stringing together a couple more here.

Yes, theres still a climb awaiting the Devils. It took until Saturday night for the Kings to suffer their first road loss this postseason. The 10-0 mark finally has a blemish. But theyre still, nonetheless, just one win away from capturing their first Cup in franchise history. Back on their home ice, the Kings are going to be looking to snuff out the Devils once and for all.

But theres no doubt the Devils have more momentum now. They have the players who are experienced at this Cup thing Brodeur, Patrik Elias, Petr Sykora to name a few. And they know L.A. has to be getting a little antsy about the lack of closure.

Its a matter of us going into a tough environment in LA and trying to ruin the party again, Brodeur said. Theyre so close to winning the Cup. Im sure its getting to them a little bit, to have all these chances and not capitalize on them. Were just looking to stay alive, to win one more game.

Why believe the Devils have a chance to win four in a row and make history?

Why not?

White Sox Talk Podcast: A.J. Pierzynski rips Manny Machado

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AP

White Sox Talk Podcast: A.J. Pierzynski rips Manny Machado

Former White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski comes on the podcast and tells Chuck Garfien why he’d sign Nolan Arenado over Manny Machado (6:15).

Pierzynski criticizes Machado for saying that he doesn’t play hard everyday (7:08). Would he make Machado the face of the White Sox franchise? (12:30)

He also talks about how bullpenning cost the Milwaukee Brewers a spot in the World Series (14:45).

He reveals the former White Sox player who had a gift for recognizing players who tipped their pitches (21:00).  Pierzynski tells behind the scenes stories about former teammates Nick Swisher, Bartolo Colon, Gavin Floyd and more (28:00).

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below:

It's time for the Bulls to spin the point guard roulette wheel

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USA TODAY

It's time for the Bulls to spin the point guard roulette wheel

Over the last couple seasons we've had some fun on our Bulls Pregame Live shows with the ever-changing cast of characters at the point guard position. We even brought the point guard roulette wheel to the show a couple years ago when Rajon Rondo, Isaiah Canaan, Jerian Grant and Cameron Payne all saw significant time at the position.

Grant began last season as the starter, followed by Kris Dunn and Payne with a little Ryan Arcidiacono mixed in.

But this season was supposed to be different. Dunn showed enough in his 52 game stint (13.4 points, 6 assists per game) in 2017-18 that he entered training camp as the unquestioned starter, with Payne and Arcidiacono as backups. The front office and coaching staff expected the 3rd year guard out of Providence to establish himself as a quality starter with elite skills at the defensive end.

Now, after playing just one regular season game, Dunn has been sidelined again, this time with a sprained left MCL suffered in his debut at Dallas Monday night. He's expected to miss 4-6 weeks of action, which should get him back on the court sometime in early December, right about the same time Lauri Markkanen is expected to return from his elbow injury.

So, what does Fred Hoiberg do now? Initially, you can expect Payne to replace Dunn in the starting lineup, with newly signed Shaq Harrison getting a look in the backup role. In case you don't know much about Harrison, he's an undrafted four-year player out of Tulsa, who spent most of the last two seasons in the NBA G-League. Like Dunn, Harrison is a physical 6'4" defense-first player who should be able to pressure some of the elite point guards the Bulls will face in the coming weeks. The front office showed their level of interest in Harrison's potential by signing him to a two-year NBA contract which includes a guaranteed salary for this season.

The Bulls also signed former Marian Catholic H.S. star Tyler Ulis to a two-way contract after he was released by Golden State in the final cutdown. Ulis started 58 games for Phoenix over the last two seasons, and is lightning quick in the open court. Problem is, he's generously listed at 5'10" which could create some serious issues at the defensive end.

And then there's always Arcidiacono, a Hoiberg favorite who's fundamentally sound, a solid defender and a decent outside shooter. Arcidiacono didn't play in Dallas Monday with Dunn back as the starter and it will be interesting to see how he's used with the coaching staff searching for answers at the position.

From my perspective, the Bulls' best option might be not going with a point guard at all in the starting lineup. Zach LaVine is on the hottest offensive streak of his young career, and he's most effective with the ball in his hands. LaVine played a lot of point guard during his rookie season in Minnesota, and he's more than capable of pushing the ball in transition.

Yes, I know having LaVine defend some of the high-scoring point guards around the league is not an ideal formula for success. The Bulls could move Justin Holiday to the shooting guard position, and see if he can match up defensively against opposing point guards. Again, not ideal.

The Bulls will be facing the likes of Kemba Walker, Trae Young, Steph Curry and Chris Paul over the next week and a half, and going without a true point guard might create defensive issues that are impossible to overcome. That's why you should expect to see Harrison take on a significant role in the upcoming games, since he's the only point guard currently available on the roster that has the physical skills to replicate in some fashion what Dunn brings on the defensive end.

Any way you look at it, the Bulls will be in survival mode over the next six weeks, trying to scratch out as many wins as they can until Markkanen and Dunn are healthy enough to get back on the court.