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Maholm brilliant as Cubs top Pirates again

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Maholm brilliant as Cubs top Pirates again

PITTSBURGH (AP) Paul Maholm pitched eight strong innings Tuesday night to win his fifth straight start and lead the Chicago Cubs over the Pittsburgh Pirates 5-1.

Moments after the final out, the contending Pirates announced they had acquired pitcher Wandy Rodriguez in a trade with Houston.

Maholm gave up one run and four hits in handing the Pittsburgh its first back-to-back home losses since May 22-23. He struck out seven and walked one.

Maholm has allowed just four earned runs in 38 1-3 innings during his winning streak. The left-hander spent his first seven seasons with the Pirates before signing with the Cubs as a free agent last winter.

Starlin Castro and Alfonso Soriano each homered off James McDonald (10-4), who had his career-high five games winning streak snapped.

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Allen Robinson: 'I feel 100 percent. I'm ready to go'

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USA Today

Allen Robinson: 'I feel 100 percent. I'm ready to go'

The good news about Allen Robinson continues to pour in.

This time, it's from Robinson himself, who declared Thursday at Chicago Bears training camp that he's 100 percent healthy and ready to go for practice, which get underway Friday.

"I feel 100 percent. I'm ready to go," he said. "It was all about getting ready for this time right here."

Robinson, who GM Ryan Pace signed to a three-year, $42 million deal in free agency, said his responsibility is to make Mitch Trubisky's job easier.

"I want Mitch [Trubisky] to go out there and play free and it's my job to make his easy."

Robinson certainly made Blake Bortles' job easy in 2015 when he went off for 1,400 yards and 14 touchdowns. It's that kind of elite production that has Trubisky very excited about what the duo can do in Chicago. If Robinson can have that much success with a player like Bortles, who isn't exactly known for his accuracy, he should thrive with Trubisky whose throws hit the mark more often than not.

Coach Matt Nagy said the Bears are starting training camp healthy and that no players are expected on the PUP list. That's great news all around, but mostly for Robinson, whose long road to recovery finally appears behind him.

Jabari Parker channels his inner Uncle Drew: This game is about getting buckets

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USA TODAY

Jabari Parker channels his inner Uncle Drew: This game is about getting buckets

The Bulls gave Jabari Parker a two-year, $40 million deal for good reason.

One, the Bulls had the salary cap space to get the deal done and had just about filled out their roster. The money wasn't going to be used elsewhere. Also, the second year of the deal is a team option which gives the Bulls some security should Parker not be able to stay healthy or play up to the standards such a salary commands.

Parker was given that money for multiple reasons. One of those reasons was not for his defense.

But, according to Parker, no one gets paid for their defense.

Speaking on 670 The Score on Wednesday, Parker was asked about whether he felt he had the ability and effort to defend in the NBA, something he hasn't done particularly well in four seasons.

"I just stick to my strengths. Look at everybody in the league. They don’t pay players to play defense," Parker said. "There’s only two people historically that play defense. I’m not going to say I won’t, but to say that’s a weakness is like saying that’s everybody’s weakness. Because I’ve scored 30 and 20 on a lot of guys that say they play defense.

"If you know the game, you also know that everyone’s a pro, right? And you know that certain guys have an average. No matter what you do, they still get that average. They pay people to score the ball, and I would hope that somebody scores the ball on me if they pay them that much. So, I’m not saying that to cop out or nothing. It’s the NBA. We’re professionals. Everybody scores. It’s just about limiting them as much as you can, trying to contain them."

Parker's right in one sense, that players are usually paid for their offensive output. There are also more tangible, easily read statistics on the offensive end than there are defensively. Heck, the Bulls gave $80 million to Zach LaVine and he was the team's worst defender last season.

But then again, defense matters. A whole lot, especially at a time when offenses are better than ever (thus making defenders more valuable). The final four teams in last year's playoffs were ranked 1st, 6th, 9th and LeBron James (29th) in defensive efficiency.

A day after Parker's comments the Celtics gave Marcus Smart a four-year, $52 million contract. He's a career 37 percent shooter and has made 29 percenet of his 3-pointers in four seasons.

So while Parker, a below-average defender, might not be entirely accurate, at least he's owning who he is. And if he scores like he did in Year 3, averaging 20 points before re-tearing his ACL, no one will care how he defends.