Cubs

Knicks shoot the lights out in win over Celtics

737342.jpg

Knicks shoot the lights out in win over Celtics

From Comcast SportsNetNEW YORK (AP) -- As the Celtics staggered to the locker room after getting hit by an NBA record-tying 3-point assault, the halftime musical selection perfectly summed up how they must have felt.It was "You Dropped a Bomb on Me" -- and Carmelo Anthony and two sharpshooting subs sure did.Anthony had 35 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists for his second career triple-double, and the New York Knicks made 19 3-pointers to keep alive their Atlantic Division title hopes with a 118-110 victory over Boston on Tuesday night.JR Smith and Steve Novak both scored 25 points for the Knicks, who overcame a season-high 43 points from Paul Pierce and moved into sole possession of seventh place in the Eastern Conference while trimming Boston's division lead to 3 games.Novak hit eight 3s in the highest-scoring game of his career. Smith made all seven of his 3s in the first half, equaling a team record."Our bench was great tonight," Anthony said. "Novak and JR, them guys combined for 50 points off the bench. When they get hot like that, it's hard to deal with."The Celtics would have wrapped up their fifth straight Atlantic title with a victory. Instead, the Knicks stunned them with a record-tying 14 3-pointers in a 72-point first half and equaled their season high by finishing 19 of 32 behind the arc. They improved to 14-5 under interim coach Mike Woodson.Tyson Chandler had 20 points on 9-of-10 shooting for the Knicks, who finished one short of their franchise record for 3s, set last season."We didn't defend the 3 at all tonight," Pierce said. "We dug ourselves a huge hole that we couldn't climb out of."Kevin Garnett scored 20 points for the Celtics, who fell out of a three-way tie for fourth in the East with Atlanta and Orlando. Rajon Rondo had 13 points and 13 assists.The Celtics watched Anthony score 42 points in a losing effort against Miami on Sunday and apparently overreacted to it, trying so hard to get the ball out of his hands that they didn't pay enough attention to his supporting cast."We panicked," Boston coach Doc Rivers said. "We trapped too early. We were doing things that we shouldn't have done. It happens. We talked about it at halftime. I thought we were better at it and then we did it again in the fourth quarter out of nowhere. Good lesson though. I told our guys it was a really good lesson for us: Don't overreact to one great player and I thought we did that."Playing without the injured Ray Allen, the Celtics got a brief scare in the third quarter when Rondo landed hard on his back going for a rebound and remained on the court for a few minutes while being attended to before remaining in the game.Woodson has repeatedly said the division title was his goal, even though the Knicks' 18-24 record when he took over always made that unlikely. Rivers said he's never talked to the Celtics about winning a division title or congratulated them for doing so, but there's no doubt it's worth having this season. Division winners are guaranteed to be seeded no worse than No. 4, avoiding Chicago or Miami until at least the second round.Allen missed his fifth straight game when he felt pain in his right ankle Tuesday morning. He had gone through the morning shootaround and Rivers assumed he was set to play before the pain returned. Neither was sure if Allen would play Wednesday against Orlando.Allen, the NBA's career leader in 3-pointers made, would have fit in perfectly in this game.The Celtics jumped to an 8-2 lead, but the rest of the first half belonged to the Knicks. New York scored the final 10 points of the first quarter, going up 32-26 behind 12 points from Anthony and 63 percent shooting.The Knicks then scored eight straight points to open the second quarter, capping an 18-0 run when Smith's 3-pointer made it 40-26 with 9:16 left. Consecutive 3s by Mike Bibby and Smith later made it 54-35 midway through the second, and the lead reached 20 points when Novak was fouled while making a 25-footer, falling backward out of bounds and into the arms of Woodson -- the only time anyone got near a Knicks shooter in the half.Novak hit two more before halftime, the Knicks taking a 72-53 lead into the locker room. He is shooting an NBA-best 47.2 percent from behind the arc."He's the best 3-point shooter in our league by far. I mean it's not even close," Smith said. "The guy's shooting 50-something percent from 3, so people are starting to catch onto it but not fast enough."Pierce, who was 17 of 18 from the free throw line, had 17 points in the third quarter to get the Celtics back into it, and the Knicks led 96-84 after three.The Celtics finally got within single digits late in the game, with Pierce scoring four straight to cut it to 112-106 with 3:07 left. But Novak hit two 3-pointers around a jumper by Rondo, putting it away at 118-108.Notes: Woodson said Amare Stoudemire could return Friday at Cleveland. He hasn't played since March 24 because of a bulging disk in his back. ... The Celtics played without swingman Mickael Pietrus, who was sent back to Boston with knee pain that Rivers assumed was caused by playing on three straight nights after a lengthy absence with a head injury. ... The Knicks play their next three on the road and have just one home game remaining, next Wednesday against the Los Angeles Clippers. ... The Celtics finished 1-6 this season on the road against division rivals. ... Milwaukee also hit 14 3-pointers in a half in 2006.

It might have been just another dinger in homer-happy All-Star Game, but Willson Contreras will remember it forever

It might have been just another dinger in homer-happy All-Star Game, but Willson Contreras will remember it forever

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Willson Contreras’ third-inning home run might not have ended up standing out too much in an All-Star Game featuring a jaw-dropping and record-shattering 10 dingers.

But, obviously, it will always stand out to the guy who hit it.

“I enjoyed every single second that I spent out there.”

Remarkably, Contreras repeated his feat from two seasons ago, when he hit his first big league homer on the first big league pitch he ever saw. Ditto on Tuesday night at Nationals Park, when he launched the first pitch he saw as an All Star out over the wall in left field.

“When I hit the ball and thought it was gone, I went back to 2016, playing in Chicago. It was the same thing, first pitch for a homer,” Contreras, all smiles, said following the American League’s 8-6 victory. “I’m really blessed with these kinds of situations. Those moments, they’re going to be history and they’re going to be in my mind and my heart.”

Contreras’ long ball was the highlight of the evening for fans watching back home in Chicago. Javy Baez got a hit in his first All-Star at-bat but was outdone by his teammate. White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu was hitless in his two trips to the plate.

And while it will be a highlight on this night for Cubs fans, it will be a highlight forever for Contreras, who enjoyed the heck out of his first All-Star experience.

“‘I did it, I did it,’” he said when asked what was going through his head. “I knew it was something special. And I wasn’t trying to do too much because these guys are nasty, throwing 98 in the first inning. I just tried to get the hit out.”

The nasty guy he went deep against was Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Blake Snell, whose 2.27 ERA on the season made him a very worthy inclusion on the AL roster. But Contreras was more impressed with the guy who started the game for the National League, raving about Washington Nationals ace Max Scherzer after the game.

“He was great, man. Great stuff, he gets so into the game,” Contreras said. “I would like to have him one day on my team or play with him for a few years. That guy is amazing.”

That’s not the current Nationals star Cubs fans are dreaming about, Willy, but point taken.

But it wasn’t Snell or Scherzer or even Baez or Jon Lester, also in the NL dugout, who Contreras was thinking about the most during his home run trot. Instead, Contreras was thinking about his grandfather, Ernesto, who passed away a few years ago.

“My grandpa, he died in 2015,” Contreras said. “I grew up with him.

“He didn’t play ball. But I feel like every time I go out there and step into the box, he’s at my back. It just feels amazing when you hit a homer or do something special, look at the sky and you know that he’s there smiling somewhere.”

It all made for a pretty incredible night for Contreras, who has officially and loudly taken his place among baseball’s best on the game’s biggest stage.

The only thing that was missing? The ball.

Yeah, Contreras didn’t get the ball, not that he really expected to. But if you’ve got it, he wants it.

“I don’t think they’re giving it back,” he said with a grin.

We’ll see. Social media’s a powerful tool. So reach out.

Manny Machado as a Dodger creates a formidable foe out west for the Cubs

Manny Machado as a Dodger creates a formidable foe out west for the Cubs

Well, it's finally happening, or at least it's going to happen. The Athletics' Ken Rosenthal reported during the MLB All-Star game that the Baltimore Orioles had agreed to officially move their franchise player Manny Machado. Neither team has confirmed anything at this time, but the deal has reportedly been as close to a done deal for the last day or so, and it would seem Machado is destined for finish his 2018 campaign in Hollywood. 

Of course, with this addition, the reigning National League champions look primed for another deep postseason run. Though, the club is clinging to a half-game lead in the NL West, with Machado in tow the Dodgers are right with the Cubs and Brewers as the elite squads in the National League. It could be argued the Dodgers didn't necessarily 'need' Machado, with an offense that was already in the top 10 in runs scored, but Machado might be the perfect addition for the Dodgers. 

After losing their young star shortstop Corey Seager for the season with an elbow injury that required Tommy John surgery, the Dodgers were in need of a more permanent solution at shortstop. And despite Machado's defensive metrics showing a steep decline in his glove at shortstop, the Dodgers will welcome his robust slash line of .315/.387/.575 while ignoring any shortcomings on defense. 

But what this means for the Cubs, who are only two games off the 2016 World Series club pace, is the path to another championship will likely require another run-in with the Dodgers. The club's biggest threat has been at this point the Brewers, but it's not hard to envision the Dodgers distancing themselves as the clear favorites in the National League with Machado in the heart of the order.

The good news for the Chicago is at least Machado didn't end up in Milwaukee, but that also could mean the Brewers make a more concerted effort to acquire pitching before the July 30th deadline. The Cubs will also see the return of Yu Darvish, who despite only managing to win one game this season in a Cubs uniform, will be a massive upgrade over the scuffling Tyler Chatwood. If the Cubs pitching can start producing like many expected them to before the start of 2018, and guys like Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant start to hit alongside All-Stars Javier Baez and Willson Contreras, it's not hard to imagine the Cubs separating themselves from the pack in the 2nd half of season. 

The Dodgers are no strangers to blockbuster deadline deals, acquiring Yu Darvish in a similar three-month rental situation, but the Cubs getting a bat like Rizzo right and an arm like Darvish healthy would be better than any deal Theo Epstein could make to improve this team. And if it's not enough, the Cubs have a solid track record of grabbing former Dodger rentals in the off-season. The push for the playoffs starts Thursday for the north-siders.