Durant, Iguodala shine while Paul sits with injury


Durant, Iguodala shine while Paul sits with injury

LAS VEGAS With a day to ruminate on Thursday nights proceedings, here are some random thoughts on Team USA following its slaughter of the Dominican Republic in its exhibition opener:
LAS VEGAS With a day to ruminate on Thursday nights proceedings, here are some random thoughts on Team USA following its slaughter of the Dominican Republic in its exhibition opener:
While the game wasn't competitive in terms of the Americans' hopes in London, obviously forward Blake Griffins knee injury, which will sideline the All-Star throughout the Olympics (he will reportedly be back for Clippers training camp) put a damper on things, even if it happened at the previous day's practice. However, the naming of Anthony Davis as Griffins replacement eases some of the worries about the squads big-man depth. The strong performance of the No. 1 overall pick Thursday doesnt hurt either.
While Davis isnt the uniquely explosive athlete Griffin is (who is?), Davis length, shot-blocking ability and perimeter skills should come in handy, as he displayed the ability to step out and knock down long-range shots.
Although it certainly wasnt as serious as Griffins situation, starting point guard Chris Paul -- ironically, Griffins teammate -- was held out of the second half of the game due to a minor thumb injury suffered earlier in training camp.
When asked about it, Paul took a humorous approach, saying, Coach K was tripping, to tell you the truth. I wanted to play, but he wouldnt let me. It is what it is. Weve got a lot of games left.
As formidable as the teams starting unit -- Paul with Kobe Bryant in the backcourt, LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony at the forwards and NBA Defensive Player of the Year Tyson Chandler at center -- the evenings best player was clearly three-time league scoring champion Kevin Durant. The Thunder small forward put on a ridiculous shooting clinic and while his offensive firepower coming off the bench is a luxury, how long will it be until he replaces Anthony, a team captain, in the starting lineup?
But as well as Durant played, 76ers swingman Andre Iguodala was awarded the games MVP. With his combination of stifling defense and surprising outside marksmanship Thursday, the Springfield, Ill., native proved that he was worthy of being on the team. One of Team USAs final additions, Iguodalas selflessness is invaluable and hes one of the few players on the squad that doesn't need the ball to be effective.
No one will confuse this team with past U.S. powerhouse squads, simply because of its lack of size (the Dominicans, led by Hawks star Al Horford, often had a size advantage) but the teams versatility and ability to press defensively makes it a scary foe for future opponents.
Our pressure is ridiculous. The amount of ball pressure we can put on guys with me, D-Will Deron Williams and Russ Russell Westbrook, then Kobe and all those guys, said Paul. Were so versatile. We have shooters, we have athletes, we have defenders. Weve just got to go out there and make sure we play the game the right way, and as long as we do that, well get all the shots we want. Our biggest thing is going to be to defend.
Team USAs debut wasnt flawless, if one wants to nitpick. Of all players, Bryant seemed a bit out of sync offensively. He took multiple high degree-of-difficulty shots as if he were at the Staples Center instead of UNLVs campus, where the Vegas crowd seemingly egged him on. Also, while its intriguing to see the versatile James line up at center on occasion. One has to wonder how that lineup would fare against massive teams such as Spain, which features the Gasol brothers -- the Lakers Pau and the Thunders Marc, both 7-footers -- and Oklahoma Citys Serge Ibaka, the leagues leading shot-blocker. And of course, the Dominicans led at one point in the early going, 4-2, something the original Dream Team never let happen back in 1992.
Aside from Horford, the player on the John Calipari-coached Dominican republic team with the most professional potential may have been Karl Towns, Jr. Towns, a 6-foot-10 forward from New Jersey, entered the contest late and showed off his scary skills with a three-pointer, not an uncommon occurrence for the big man. A smart move by Calipari to add the youngster for future recruiting purposes; Towns just completed his freshman year of high school, where he won a state title at the alma mater of Lakers center Andrew Bynum and former Bulls guard Jason Williams.
For a debut performance, it was a strong showing and fans likely can look forward to even better play as the team continues to gain chemistry.
Practice is always one thing. The game is always the best indication of how youre going to feel, Pau said. That first couple of minutes, everybody was winded out there, too. I think it has something to do with everybody being so anxious and playing so hard and once everybody got that second wind, it wasnt too bad.

Blackhawks make it official: Corey Crawford is back

Blackhawks make it official: Corey Crawford is back

He’s back.

Corey Crawford will start in goal for the first time since Dec. 23, 2017 when the Blackhawks host the Arizona Coyotes, coach Joel Quenneville confirmed after morning skate on Thursday morning.

"It’s exciting," Quenneville said. "I’m sure he’s looking forward to it and we’re all excited about it as well. It’ll be a fun situation for the guys, seeing him back in the net as well. So we’re looking for everyone to be excited about tonight’s game."

The two-time Stanley Cup champion was medically cleared to practice from his concussion on Oct. 1, but the Blackhawks wanted to give Crawford as much time as he needed to get his conditioning and puck-tracking skills up to game speed before putting him into game action.

"It feels good to be back to myself," Crawford said on Wednesday. "I'm feeling good, I'm feeling clear. It was a pretty long process. ... Practices have been great, been getting timing a little bit more and getting up to speed and reading shots and all that, so it'll be nice to finally get in one."

To make room for Crawford on the 23-man roster, the Blackhawks will assign forward Luke Johnson to the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League. Brandon Saad, who wore a white healthy scratch jersey all week at practice, will take his spot in the lineup.

For now, the Blackhawks will hang on to Anton Forsberg and carry three goaltenders as insurance as they get ready to start a seven-games-in-11-days stretch.

Crawford was 16-9-2 with a 2.27 goals against average, .929 save percentage and two shutouts in 28 games last season. The Blackhawks were 17-30-8 without him and finished last in the Central Division.

The amount of money you'll need to get into Bears-Patriots will make your head hurt

The amount of money you'll need to get into Bears-Patriots will make your head hurt

It costs a lot of money to see the GOAT, apparently. 

According to TickPick, a secondary-market ticket site, the get-in price for Sunday's Bears-Patriots matchup is currently sitting at a nice, plump $356. 

That price is, according to this article in the Chicago Sun-Times, more expensive than a ticket to No. 3 Clemson vs. No. 16 North Carolina State ($161) and No. 5 LSU vs. No. 22 Mississippi State (39$??) combined. It's also over 100 percent (116, to be precise) higher than the Bears' following game against the New York Jets. 

This is on top of what is, according to CNBC, already the most expensive gameday experience in the NFL. Soldier's average beer costs $9.50, coming in as the 2nd-most expensive cup of Bud Light Foam, behind only San Fransisco. 

Honestly though, it's not even that cold yet. Who needs heat/electricity when you can have nosebleed seats and *one* beer instead!