Cubs

Miami Heat add two veteran sharpshooters

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Miami Heat add two veteran sharpshooters

From Comcast SportsNet
MIAMI (AP) -- Ray Allen's role in Miami is yet to be totally determined. And that clearly doesn't bother the NBA's leading 3-point shooter. Allen and Rashard Lewis signed their free-agent contracts with the Heat on Wednesday, giving the NBA champions a pair of veterans who bring tons of experience and versatility to a lineup already featuring LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. And both wasted no time saying they want to adapt to the Heat way. "Whatever's going to be best for me in this situation is going to figure itself out," Allen said, flanked by Heat President Pat Riley and coach Erik Spoelstra for his introductory news conference. "This team won a championship without me. I'm not going to come in and expect for coach to cater to who I am and what I do. I've got to make that work on the floor with my new teammates." Allen agreed to join the Heat on Friday, deciding to leave Boston after five wildly successful seasons and the 2008 NBA championship. Lewis agreed to terms with Miami on Tuesday. Allen will make just over 3 million this season. Lewis will earn about 1.35 million from the Heat, plus another 13.7 million after getting a buyout from the New Orleans Hornets earlier this offseason. "I'm at a point in my career where I've been on the All-Star team, played for 13, 14 years and I've made a pretty good amount of money over my career," Lewis said. "Everybody sets goals over their career and my next goal is obviously to try to win a championship. The ball can't bounce forever. I'm sure you all see the gray hair on my head." For Lewis, coming to Miami is a new beginning. For Allen, coming to Miami wraps up a month of unexpected twists and turns. The Celtics' season ended in Miami a little over a month ago, with a loss in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals. Allen was unusually emotional after that defeat, then insisted that even after an injury-marred season -- he's recovering from surgery to remove bone spurs from his right ankle -- he has basketball left in his legs. Boston tried to keep him, offering him twice as much as he'll make per year in Miami. Nonetheless, Allen found himself drawn to the Heat. "You come into the summer, and you don't know what potentially can happen," Allen said. "And you take the process a step at a time, try to figure out what's best for you and your family. And here I sit." Allen said that Celtics coach Doc Rivers and general manager Danny Ainge were disappointed by his decision. Allen said he reached out to Kevin Garnett -- he was particularly close with Garnett and Paul Pierce in Boston -- when he began leaning toward Miami, telling Garnett in a text message that the move was likely. Garnett's responded by saying that he was sure Ainge would do whatever it took to keep Allen in Boston. Days later, Allen was signing in Miami. And on Wednesday, Allen downplayed the notion that the move came in part because of a perceived rift with Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo. "I can't say that it factored in my decision," Allen said. "As teammates, we were brothers. ... There's differences. We all have differences. Paul eats corn flakes. I might not like corn flakes. That's just part of kind of who we are as individuals." Lewis has already thought plenty about what it could mean to share the court with James, Wade, Bosh and Allen. In short, he knows defenses could be a bit confounded. "You've got to double-team LeBron. You have to double-team Dwyane Wade. You've got to double-team Chris Bosh. And then you think they're going to leave Ray Allen open?" Lewis said. "They've got to leave somebody open. So I have to go shoot a million jumpers tonight and be ready to knock them down." A few moments later, Lewis posed with Riley and Spoelstra, holding his new No. 9 jersey in Miami colors. "He's played in a great program already. He's been to the finals. He's a winner," Spoelstra said. "We've had some great battles against him." Spoelstra simply raved about Allen as well. "There's only a handful of players, really, in this league that absolutely strike fear into their opponent. And Ray is one of those players," Spoelstra said. Allen and Lewis were Seattle teammates for five seasons, from 2003 through 2007 -- and both figure to fit perfectly into Miami's plan to surround James, Wade and Bosh with even more shooters who can stretch defenses. Allen's 2,718 made 3-pointers are the most in NBA history, and Lewis ranks fifth among active players with 1,690 makes from beyond the arc. Slowed by a bone bruise in his left knee this past season, Lewis averaged 7.8 points in 28 games for Washington. For his career, he's averaged 16.1 points per game with Seattle, Orlando and Washington. "I think it's important, year in and year out, that you continue to try to add quality talent, experience and players who want to make a commitment to winning," Riley said. "And I think we found out the last couple of days how hungry Rashard is."

Cubs rallying behind Jon Lester after another tough outing

Cubs rallying behind Jon Lester after another tough outing

There are three ways to look at the Cubs' 9-3 loss Friday:

1) Jon Lester had another rough outing and the sun is starting to set on his career as a front-of-the-rotation starter.

2) Lester gave up some hard contact, but also had some tough luck and pitched better than his final line indicated.

3) Meh.

To be honest, each of the three perspectives has an element of truth to it, but the third one is probably the main way to look at it as the Cubs tasted defeat for the first time in a week.

No, the team did not play well, but it went far beyond Lester.

The Nationals didn't get into town until the wee hours of Friday morning, yet it was the Cubs who looked sluggish Friday. They managed only two baserunners - a single and a walk - until the ninth inning when they put together a too-little-too-late rally thanks to some shoddy Washington fielding.

But even if the offense did come to play, the game was out of hand by the fifth inning, when Lester and Pedro Strop combined to allow 3 runs, extending Washington's lead to 7-0.

Lester was charged with 6 runs on 9 hits and a walk over 4.1 innings, but 8 of those 9 hits were singles. The only extra-base knock off the Cubs southpaw was Adam Eaton's line drive home run in the first inning that he smacked into the 18 mph wind howling in off the lake.

Of the singles, a couple were hard ground balls knocked down by Cubs infielders and one was a perfectly executed bunt by pitcher Anibal Sanchez with two strikes that the Cubs had no choice but to hope it would roll foul. At that point in the fourth inning, the score was only 3-0, but the Cubs' misfortune seemed to open the door for the Nationals.

"I'm telling you, I don't think he was that bad today," Maddon said. "We were a little bit unlucky with him. ... Outside of that last inning when they squared him up, I thought he actually threw the ball decently.

"I think he's gonna be fine. He will find a way to get himself back into the picture in the right way. There's a lot of time left with the playoffs, etc., so I'm counting on it. I believe in Jon."

Beyond the tough luck, the Nationals hit five balls more than 100 mph off Lester, including a 108.5 mph single on the final batter (Juan Soto) he faced in the fifth inning.

After the game, Lester couldn't do much but shrug and accept responsibility for the loss.

"I feel fine," he said. "Today sucks. Tomorrow, I'll wake up and start a new day and get ready for another start. That doesn't take the sting away from today. Joe's always said, 'you win hard, you lose hard' and losing for me is even harder than that. Sucking as a pitcher is even harder than that.

"It's my job to do better and I'm not. I let a five-game winning streak basically go by the wayside because I didn't throw the ball very well. It's frustrating, but tomorrow starts a new day and move on to the next one."

Friday's game marks the fifth time this season Lester has allowed at least 6 runs in an outing. This was his 25th start of 2019, so that means 20 percent of his appearances have resulted in putting his team in a major hole.

"I think we're getting to the point where you can't isolate [the rough games]," Lester said. "They're happening a little bit too much for myself. I felt pretty good about myself after the last one, just being able to continually execute pitches. I don't feel like stuff was much different than last time, just different results and that's the shitty part about this game and my job - it's results driven and it doesn't matter how I feel or what the gameplan was going in.

"You have to execute and get people out and keep them from scoring runs and I'm just not doing that."

Lester started the five-game winning streak for the Cubs with a performance befitting true "ace" or "stopper" status. After a pair of disheartening bullpen meltdowns, he took the ball last Saturday and shut out the Pirates through 6 innings, battling despite not having his best stuff (5 walks).

But even including that start in Pittsburgh, Lester has now allowed 23 earned runs in 24.1 innings in five starts in August.

For a 35-year-old with three World Series rings and a long track record of pitching well when the lights are the brightest, he isn't where he wants to be as September approaches in a tight playoff race.

"Better than this," he said. "Usually this is the time of year where I pitch a lot better than I have been. For whatever reason, I haven't hit that stride. I usually have ups and downs to every season, but usually more ups than downs.

"Right now, it's just continuing to go down. The old saying - one step forward, two steps back - is kinda what I'm doing right now. The positive is I physically feel fine. Can't blame it on that. Just have to be better. Tomorrow's a new day, prepare for the next one."

Even with the recent struggles, Kyle Schwarber said Lester is still the guy the Cubs would want to give the ball to in Game 1 of a playoff series.

"He'll bounce back," Schwarber said. "He knows how to handle himself really well. He's a leader out there and we always have his back."

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USWNT star Carli Lloyd has received inquiries from NFL teams after hitting 55-yard field goal

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USA TODAY

USWNT star Carli Lloyd has received inquiries from NFL teams after hitting 55-yard field goal

Could Carli Lloyd become the next big multi-sport athlete?

Lloyd, a star soccer player and two-time World Cup champion with the U.S. women's national team, attended Philadelphia Eagles training camp this week. The 37-year-old lined up for a few field goals, drilling a 55-yarder along the way.

NFL teams took notice of Lloyd's kicking prowess. In an interview with Sports Illustrated's Planet Fútbol TV, Lloyd said she's received some inquiries following her kicking demonstration.

“I’ve definitely got some inquiries, I’ve definitely got some people talking," Lloyd said. "Anything is possible but right now, I’m strictly a soccer player and we’ll see what the future holds.”

Lloyd is a legendary soccer player, so one shouldn't be surprised at her kicking prowess. However, her accuracy is extremely impressive, especially considering that she was kicking through skinny/non-NFL regulation uprights.

Following the double doink that ended their 2018 season abruptly, the Bears' offseason has been defined by their kicking vacancy. Even though Lloyd said she's strictly a soccer player, perhaps the Bears should give her a call. Maybe they already have?

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