Cubs

Fire look to put a stop to Sporting Kansas City

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Fire look to put a stop to Sporting Kansas City

Saturday, March 26, 2011
CSNChicago.comAssociated Press

For several years, trips to Chicago often meant certain doom for Sporting Kansas City. That isnt the case anymore.

Kansas City seeks its third victory in four games at Toyota Park on Saturday in the Fires home opener.

Playing its first game with a new name after being known for more than a decade as the Kansas City Wizards, Sporting Kansas City opened this season with a 3-2 win over Chivas USA last Saturday.

The Sporting KC era got off to an encouraging start as C.J. Sapong scored just two minutes into the game, recording the fastest goal for a rookie in MLS history.

It was definitely surreal scoring, said the former James Madison star. It shows for me all the hard work has paid off, but at the same time its a motivating tool to keep it up.

Omar Bravo also enjoyed a memorable debut with Kansas City. The striker, signed in February after an illustrious tenure with Chivas Guadalajara, scored the teams other two goals.

I think there were so many things that (Bravo) wanted to prove, Sporting KC coach Peter Vermes said. Once he calmed down, thats when he started playing his game. And thats why hes here, because of the way he played.

Kansas City now looks to open 2-0 for the third time in four seasons, and win back-to-back games in Chicago for the first time in franchise history.

The Fire went 13-1-1 in their first 15 home meetings between these clubs, but Kansas City has recently found some success at Toyota Park, going 2-0-1 there since 2008.

Kansas City won 2-0 in Chicago on Oct. 12 behind scores from captain Davy Arnaud and Teal Bunbury. The teams played to a 2-all tie in Kansas City on May 15 with Kei Kamara scoring both goals for the Wizards.

The Fire opened this season with a 1-1 tie against FC Dallas last Saturday.

Chicagos Diego Chaves, making his MLS debut, scored in the 17th minute to put the Fire up 1-0 but FC Dallas answered with a goal one minute later. Chicago had several chances late after Dallas defender Brek Shea was ejected in the 55th minute but couldnt take advantage.

I think it is a little bit disappointing that we were up a man for about 30 minutes and didnt win but we need to keep it in perspective, captain Logan Pause told MLS official website. Coming here and getting a point is fantastic. The guys showed a level of commitment that Im proud of and excited to be a part of. I think were on the right track.

The Fire, who will visit Kansas City on June 9 for the opening of the new Livestrong Sporting Park, lost to San Jose in their first game at Toyota Park last season, snapping a three-game winning streak in home openers.

Potential Kris Bryant trade market becomes clearer after Anthony Rendon lands with Angels

Potential Kris Bryant trade market becomes clearer after Anthony Rendon lands with Angels

The first domino of this offseason’s third base market has fallen.

According to ESPN’s Jeff Passan, free agent Anthony Rendon is set to sign a seven-year, $245 million deal with the Los Angeles Angels.

The Texas Rangers were also linked to Rendon in recent days, but they’ll now have to shift their focus elsewhere. Texas’ attention is now on the other superstar free agent third baseman — Josh Donaldson — as MLB.com’s TR Sullivan reported. The same can be said about Rendon’s former team, the Washington Nationals.

This leads us to the Cubs and Kris Bryant. With Rendon off the board and Donaldson soon to follow, a potential trade market for the Cubs third baseman is growing clearer.

Only one of the Rangers and Nationals can sign Donaldson, not to mention his most recent team — the Atlanta Braves. When Donaldson’s domino falls, two of these teams will be left empty-handed in their pursuit of a third baseman.

The Los Angeles Dodgers also were linked to Rendon, though they don’t necessarily need a third baseman with Justin Turner manning the hot corner. Their pursuit of Rendon points to how they’re willing to shift Turner off third base, however. Add them to the list of teams seeking third base help.

Add that all up, and you have four teams in the market for Donaldson. The Cubs aren’t guaranteed to trade Bryant, but they’ll soon find themselves with some leverage. For the three teams that don’t land Donaldson, the most logical move will be to inquire with the Cubs about trading for Bryant. The Nationals have already inquired about Bryant, according to MLB.com's Jon Morosi.

Bryant’s unresolved grievance case will be an issue in any potential negotiations. The difference between two years of control (if he loses) and one (if he wins) is big when it comes to his value. Even though they’ll have leverage over interested teams, the Cubs will yield stronger trade proposals for Bryant if he loses his case.

But, again, a trade is no certainty. What is certain is teams will be inquiring about Bryant in the not-so-distant future, once Donaldson chooses his free agent destination.

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Four observations: Bulls rout Atlanta Hawks in much-needed get-right game

Four observations: Bulls rout Atlanta Hawks in much-needed get-right game

The Bulls picked up a valuable get-right win in a 136-102 blowout of the Atlanta Hawks. Observations from a game the Bulls had to win, and did handily:

The bench provided a spark (again)

Bulls starters not named Zach LaVine got off to a sluggish start in this one. At the 3:14 mark of the first, the Hawks led 29-21 and were shooting a scalding 13-for-18 (72.2%) from the field (3-for-6 from 3-point range). LaVine had 12 of the Bulls’ 21 points.

The hosts ended the period ahead 37-33, buoyed by a 16-4 run by a bench unit of Coby White, Ryan Arcidiacono, Denzel Valentine, Thad Young, and Daniel Gafford. Valentine hit four floaters over that stretch, Gafford had a resounding block, White had a strong and-one take over Alex Len and Thad Young tallied five points, for good measure. 

Bench runs have become commonplace for this Bulls team, even in the midst of a three-game losing streak. This one carried over into the second quarter, which the Bulls won 29-19, holding Atlanta to 6-for-21 (28.6%) shooting, 2-for-10 (20%) from three. They didn't look back from there.

Young finished the first half with nine points, four rebounds, and two assists. White had a flashy night — tallying 19 points. Valentine and Gafford connected on a handful of alley-oops (which has quickly become a tradition).

Zach LaVine bounced back

LaVine — averaging 20 points on 33.3% shooting during the team’s three-game losing streak — was ripe for a breakout, and this Hawks team (29th in the NBA in defensive rating) presented an opportunity to bounce back. He took advantage.

As mentioned, LaVine carried the Bulls offense early: he had 18 first-half points on 7-for-9 shooting. Embedded in that line were a few highlight-reel dunks that awoke the United Center:

He tacked on a cool 17 (!) in the third quarter before coming out with the game out of reach for the Hawks. LaVine finished the night leading all scorers with 35 points and shot a staggering 7-for-7 from 3-point range. When he’s on, it’s too much fun, and he dazzled in this one. 

In a favorable matchup, the defense kept rolling

Coming into this game, we knew the Bulls defense, theoretically, matched up well with Atlanta’s offense plan of attack. For the most part, that bore out, in practice.

Kris Dunn was outstanding in containing Trae Young tonight, hounding him off of every screen (where he was usually aided by a hedge from the big in coverage) and staying attached even in instances when Young was able to penetrate.

Young didn’t score until the 11:07 mark in the second quarter and finished the night with 15 points on 4-for-14 shooting (1-for-6 from three) and seven turnovers. This is the fourth-leading scorer in the NBA we’re talking about here. He did rack up 13 assists (six in the first quarter) — and some were very, very pretty — but most of those came in transition. In the halfcourt, the Bulls’ set defense effectively bottled him up.

The Hawks, as a team, committed 23 turnovers on the night, which the Bulls were able to convert into 15 points. Atlanta is an inferior opponent, yes, but it was a strong showing, nonetheless.

Blowouts are fun

This one was a little too close for comfort early on but ended in a rout. The Bulls simply outclassed the Hawks, winning statistical categories this team has often been overmatched in, from rebounds (42-40) to points in the paint (78-42), to blocks (7-4), to the 3-point battle. Lauri Markkanen even utilized garbage time to turn a fine stat line into a good one: he had 10 points in the fourth quarter, finishing the game with 22 points on 8-for-9 shooting. 

So, you know what? Rest your brain with some of the best clips of the night. You’ve earned it:

 

 

 

 

The Bulls can push questions about fourth-quarter stagnation, cold shooting streaks, and crowded rotations until this weekend. This was a solid overall performance.

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