Cubs

Knicks star hurts hand in postgame incident

750472.jpg

Knicks star hurts hand in postgame incident

From Comcast SportsNet
MIAMI (AP) -- Amare Stoudemire draped a towel over his left hand as he walked into the privacy of the New York Knicks' training room an hour after the game, needing a sanctuary from prying eyes. The specifics of what Stoudemire did immediately after Game 2 were unclear. Only this was certain: His hand was cut so severely that doctors and paramedics were summoned, drops of blood stained the carpet, a piece of glass in the door to a fire-extinguisher case needed to be replaced, and a bad night for the Knicks on the court got much worse when Stoudemire walked off it. Stoudemire's availability -- and New York's hopes -- for the rest of this Eastern Conference first-round series against the Miami Heat look bleak at best, first because the Knicks were beaten 104-94 on Monday night to fall into a 2-0 hole in the best-of-seven matchup, then because of whatever emotions boiled over near the locker room afterward. "I am so mad at myself right now, I want to apologize to the fans and my team, not proud of my actions, headed home for a new start," Stoudemire wrote on Twitter about two hours after the game. Game 3 is Thursday. Before the Knicks left the arena for the flight to New York, a team official said the extent of the injury is unknown. But in the locker room, Knicks center Tyson Chandler said he did not expect Stoudemire to be able to play when the series returns to Madison Square Garden. "I'm not going to comment until I see or hear what's going on with it," Knicks coach Mike Woodson said. Moments later, Woodson said he had seen the cut, then stopped short of saying anything else about what took place. "I'm not going to go there," Woodson said. So on their trip to Miami, the Knicks lost two games and two starters. Guard Iman Shumpert was lost for 6 to 8 months after tearing a knee ligament in Game 1, a freak play after a misstep. Stoudemire now appears gone as well, because of a mistake. "You never want to hear anyone gets hurt," said Miami guard Dwyane Wade, who led the Heat with 25 points. "Hopefully he gets better. We want all their guns on the court." Chris Bosh added 21 points and LeBron James finished with 19 points, nine assists and seven rebounds for the Heat, but their night was completely overshadowed by whatever went on with Stoudemire in the hallway that's just a few steps from the edge of the court. "I really don't know what's the situation with that," said Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony, who said he was "on the court" when whatever happened with Stoudemire occurred. Everything the Heat did seemed like old news quickly after the game, when all anyone really wanted to talk about was what was going on in the Knicks locker room. Miami-Dade paramedics -- who staff every game -- were summoned while reporters were kept outside much longer than the typical 10-minute cooling-off period. "We're all frustrated," Chandler said. Stoudemire declined to say anything when he walked out of the shower area in the locker room, one towel around his waist, another shielding his left hand. Almost forgotten: Miami had just sent New York to its NBA-record-tying 12th straight postseason loss. "This is a series," Chandler said. "We've got to go home win the next two and turn it into a best-of-three after that." Anthony scored 30 points on 12-for-26 shooting for New York, which got 18 points from Stoudemire and 13 apiece from Chandler and J.R. Smith. The only other team to lose 12 straight playoff games is the Memphis Grizzlies, who dropped their first dozen postseason contests from 2004 through 2006. New York's last postseason win came April 29, 2001. Mario Chalmers scored 13 points and Mike Miller and Shane Battier each shot 3 for 5 from 3-point range on their way to 11-point games for the defending East champion Heat, who shot 52 percent. "Every game we try to find our shooters, get them comfortable in the offense and once they catch them, they can let it fly," James said. "It was concerted effort tonight to get them the ball and move the ball from one side to the other." Baron Davis, who sat most of the first half and has been battling back issues, finished with 12 points for the Knicks. The Heat came into the game saying they expected Anthony to be much more aggressive. They were right. Anthony opened with an 11-shot quarter -- the last time someone took more in the first 12 minutes of a playoff game was May 15, 2006, when Richard Hamilton got 12 shots off for Detroit against Cleveland. Anthony missed all seven of the jumpers he took in Game 1 when guarded by James, then got his first one to fall on the game's first possession Monday. By halftime, Anthony was up to 21 points on 9-for-18 shooting, the Knicks needing all that and more. Wade, James and Bosh combined for 41 points in the first two quarters, helping Miami take a 53-47 lead. Unlike Game 1, it wasn't over by halftime. And play was heated, just not overheated. Well, until postgame, anyway. For nearly three quarters, whenever Miami was on the cusp of pulling away, New York had answers. Consecutive baskets by James midway through the third quarter, the second of those good enough for him to merit it worthy of a chest-bump and long look at the Knicks bench, put Miami up 67-56 -- then its biggest lead. Four minutes later, the Knicks were within four, a dunk by Chandler making it 72-68 with 1:37 left in the period. Miami's margin was back to nine after a flurry ended the third. James drove right and got just about every Knick to shift with him, leaving Battier all alone for a 3-pointer, and James' three-point play as the shot clock was running down had him laughing and the Heat up 78-69 going into the fourth. The Knicks never got any closer, and the Heat wound up holding serve at home. "We did what we're supposed to do," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "It's not anything more than that. We're already trying to leave this game behind." By then, word was just seeping out of what happened in the Knicks locker room. "Amare is a huge piece of this team," Chandler said. "And, you know, without him, it's going to make it more difficult." Notes: Knicks G Mike Bibby came out of one of his shoes during play early in the second quarter, then was miffed after Wade picked up the sneaker and tossed it out of his reach as New York took the ball into the offensive end. "I don't think many people have done that before," Wade said. ... Heat F Udonis Haslem bought tickets for relatives of Trayvon Martin, the Florida teen who was killed by a neighborhood watch volunteer in Sanford, Fla. on Feb. 26. ... Shumpert watched from the locker room. ... It's the first time the Heat have held a 2-0 series lead over the Knicks. All four previous matchups were split after the opening two games.

Why Cubs say 'nothing's going to faze us now' after historic 12-3 start

Why Cubs say 'nothing's going to faze us now' after historic 12-3 start

Throughout his career, Jon Lester has called the typical baseball season a roller coaster.

“I think we’re on the Six Flags roller coaster right now,” the Cubs’ veteran pitcher said. “We’re not on the kiddie side of anything.”

Three-month shutdown. Deadly pandemic. Surgical masks. Empty stadiums. Every-other-day testing for COVID-19.

“That being said, I think everybody’s just glad to be doing it,” he said.

As strange as that sounds, maybe that explains it. Maybe the Cubs are just glad to be here.

Click to download the MyTeams App for the latest Cubs news and analysis.

Anthony Rizzo, the most tenured player in the clubhouse, said that much in February — said how much he intended to enjoy every day of this season because the nine players left from the 2016 championship were on borrowed time as a group, likely to be ripped apart at the trade deadline with a poor start.

Whatever it is that has brought them to this point, get a load of the Cubs five months after the coronavirus pandemic shut down spring training.

After the Cardinals’ COVID-19 outbreak wiped out the Cubs’ series in St. Louis and sidelined them for four days, the Cubs responded by outscoring Cleveland 15-3 to sweep a two-game series — albeit, after that team put two of its best pitchers on the restricted list for violating safety protocols.

The Cubs return home with a 12-3 record that ties its best through 15 games since it went 13-2 in 1907 on the way to a World Series championship. (Of course, the other time it went 12-3 was 1970, when the rest of the season was not so good).

The biggest difference this year, of course, is that 15 games already represents one-fourth of the season, assuming Major League Baseball can pull off this nine-week, 30-team long shot.

So it would be like starting 32-8 in a 162-game season.

Or maybe not a lot different than starting 25-6 — which is what the Cubs did in 2016 on the way to 103 victories and a World Series championship that finished in the same place they just knocked around the best team they’ve played so far this season. (The Cubs were 11-4 through 15 games in 2016.)

“It’s kind of cool,” Lester said of the short season. “It’s kind of cool to have this pressure on you from Day 1. I think sometimes we can all get into the, 'It’s the first month; hey, we’ve got a long way to go.’

“Obviously, we can’t say that. I feel like guys are grinding a little bit more early on. I think it shows in our at-bats. I think it shows in our approach on the mound.”

As they open a 10-game homestand Thursday against the Brewers, the Cubs’ starting rotation is 11-3 with a 2.65 ERA. After a shaky first week, the bullpen has generally performed well. The fielding is among the best in baseball.

And the lineup just scored seven runs each of the last two nights against a pitching staff that hadn’t allowed more than four in a game — after an unexpected layoff.

“There have been so many things going on this whole year I think that nothing’s going to faze us now,” said Kyle Hendricks (3-1), who pitched six strong innings to win Wednesday.

Talk about a push-button operation for a first-year manager.

“Yeah, you haven’t sat in this seat,” manager David Ross said with a laugh when it was suggested he had nothing to complain about 15 games into the season.

“We’ve got good players. That’s what it is,” he said. “There’s nothing to complain about because the talent’s there. The character’s there. The commitment, the focus, the energy, the work — all those things that seem easy to bring every day; it’s not. It’s not easy. Especially in this environment we’re dealing with now.

“It’s all about the players, man.”

Maybe adding a designated hitter is a difference maker for a National League team that had the luxury of good developing and platoon hitters on its bench.

“I can’t really remember a time playing for this team where it was really like that, where 1 through 9 there was damage all through the order,” former MVP Kris Bryant said. “I think it shows in our record and the baseball that we’re playing right now, too.”

“It’s everything right now. Everything’s clicking.”

Maybe some of it’s the right new manager at the right time, like the front office has suggested? Maybe some of it’s the growth of Rizzo as a leader and tone-setter in the clubhouse, like Ross suggested?

Maybe it’s the kind of urgency and focus the front office talked about last year — but that a 60-game sprint through a COVID-19 minefield demands.

“If I had to compare the mindset this season, it’s been more of a playoff scenario,” Lester said, “where every day you show up you pay a little bit more attention to detail, a little bit more attention to that scouting report and what you’re trying to do.

“You don’t have that window to make a mistake. The big thing for us is energy, and I think when we [bring] that, when we show up with energy every day, you see a good product on the field, whether we win or lose.”

SUBSCRIBE TO THE CUBS TALK PODCAST FOR FREE.

Cubs quick takes: Cubs head home with 12-3 start after sweep in Cleveland

Cubs quick takes: Cubs head home with 12-3 start after sweep in Cleveland

Whether Zach Plesac's and Mike Clevinger's Mistake by the Lake deflated hot-starting Cleveland, the Cubs looked anything but deflated during a decisive two-game sweep of the team that looked like the best team on their schedule so far.

After Clevinger was scratched from Tuesday's start because he and Plesac violated COVID-19 protocols and left their hotel over the weekend, the Cubs scored seven runs in each game against a team that hadn't allowed more than four in a game until then.

"The guys are as locked in as I've ever seen," said Wednesday's winning pitcher, Kyle Hendricks, of a lineup that produced home runs by Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant, and another two RBIs by Jason Heyward during the 7-2 win.

Heyward drove in five runs during the sweep, in which the Cubs outscored Cleveland 15-3.

Click to download the MyTeams App for the latest Cubs news and analysis.

Quick takes from the victory that sends the Cubs home with the best record in the majors: 

Happy return

Starters Jon Lester and Hendricks pitched with a combined seven extra days of rest, but both were impressive in earning victories in the sweep.

"The starters keep doing their thing," manager David Ross said, adding of Hendricks' mix and location: "It's a clinic."

One night after Lester allowed one run in six innings, Hendricks (3-1) made his first start in Cleveland since Game 7 of the 2016 World Series and matched Lester’s performance.

Hendricks, the Cubs’ Opening Day starter, who struck out five without a walk, lowered his ERA to 3.08 through four starts.

The only run he allowed came after Cleveland successfully challenged what appeared to be a diving catch by Bryant in left field for the second out of the fifth. Instead, it was ruled a catch, loading the bases, and José Ramírez followed with a sacrifice fly.

"I thought I caught it," Bryant said. "Apparently, I didn't. Whatever."

Who needs the DH?

Not the Cubs, apparently.

Ross likes using his second, good-hitting catcher, Victor Caratini, as the designated hitter, when Willson Contreras starts behind the plate.

So what if something happens to the starting catcher if No. 2 is the DH? We found out in the fifth, when Contreras got ticked off at a check-swing, third-strike call, argued, slammed his bat and got ejected.

Rather than go to the third catcher, Josh Phegley, Ross instead surrendered the DH and put Caratini behind the plate, with the Cubs leading 4-0 at the time.

Ross used his bench to pinch hit for Contreras’ spot in the order the rest of the game.

Schwarb-less

Left fielder Kyle Schwarber was scratched from the lineup because of lingering soreness in his right knee after being hit by a pitch in Tuesday night’s sixth inning.

Schwarber, whose status is considered day-to-day, was replaced in left by Bryant (moving from third base) and in the lineup David Bote (playing third). Schwarber pinch hit in the ninth inning, striking out.

Snare scare

Bryant appeared to jam his left wrist making a diving attempt at César Hernández’ shallow fly to left in the fifth. He grimaced in pain on the play, and it appeared to bother him the rest of the inning.

By the top of the sixth he seemed fine, driving a deep home run to left field. He was replaced in the ninth, but for defense, Ross said.

"I'm OK," Bryant said after the game. "It doesn't feel great."

Where they stand

The Cubs reached the quarter mark of their 60-game schedule at 12-3, the best record in the majors.

On deck

The Cubs return home to open a four-game series Thursday night against the Brewers.

SUBSCRIBE TO THE CUBS TALK PODCAST FOR FREE.