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Record-setting Thibodeau nonplussed about feat

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Record-setting Thibodeau nonplussed about feat

ORLANDOIf you expected Tom Thibodeau to be elated about becoming the NBA head coach to reach 100 career victories in the shortest amount of time, you clearly havent been paying attention.

Im just glad we won. When you look at stuff like that, it says that you have good players, he said after the Bulls throttled the Magic Monday night. We have great guys, too. Theyre not only good players, but theyre great people. Im very fortunate to be coaching this team.

However, while Thibodeau downplayed the feat, his players showed their appreciation for the workaholic coachs achievement.

Im glad its him because he works so hard. He really deserves it. Ive never seen anyone work as hard as he does. We all believe in him, so as hard as he works, whenever he comes up with a game plan, we all buy into it because we know how much effort he puts into studying every opponent, said Luol Deng.

It says a lot. He didnt even say anything. No one said anything before the game about it. Most of us didnt even know and its just the type of guy he is. He was just focused about tonights game and thats it.

Echoed Joakim Noah: I know hes going to say it doesnt mean anything, but I think its a great accomplishment. Hes the hardest-working guy Ive ever been around and he deserves it.

John Lucas III, whose father Thibodeau coached under during his long career as an NBA assistant coach, discussed the coachs famed work ethic.

I always say when you put the work n, you put the time in, you can be successful at whatever you do and he puts the work in, the time in and it shows. Look at what hes done in the past two years. Hes a guy who loves the game of basketball and hes still a student of the game of basketball. Hes always learning something, always going into other things to make us better and also make himself better as a coach, so when you have a coach like that, hes going to be successful, said the dimuntive point guard.

Its just who he is. Hes humble. He doesnt expect less. He wants us to play our best and I know he wants to his best when hes out there.

Swingman Ronnie Brewer acknowledged that while it made the record more special because it came on a night when the Bulls set a franchise record for fewest points allowed to an opponent in a regular-season game, that wouldnt matter to the single-minded coach.

He doesnt care. It goes in the record books, but thats not going be in the record books like he wants. He wants to win the championship, I think thats what everyone wants to do and were going to keep working until were playing championship-caliber basketball, he said. If a team gets a bucket at the end, hell come and let us hear it in the locker room, like Yo! You all didnt play 48 minutes! You let them scorethey scored 61, 63 pointshes like, Yo! Youve got to play to the end. We played great D, but thats the kind of coach Thibs is.

Added Carlos Boozer: Toms been great since we all got together last year, putting us in a great system that well continue to improve and get better at, but well-deserving. He puts so much work in with film. You guys see him. He almost looks exhausted every day, just watching film. But hes one of the most detailed people Ive been around and its been a fun ride, but knowing that, at the same time, none of us is satisfied. We want a whole lot more and it starts with him. He wants a whole lot more, too.

Hes not about himself. Hes about the team and that trickles down to everybody, from Coach Thibs to D-Rose, to the rest of us, everybodys about the team. Nobody talks about themselves, really.

Sports Talk Live Podcast: How much will Trubisky improve in his 2nd preseason game?

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USA TODAY

Sports Talk Live Podcast: How much will Trubisky improve in his 2nd preseason game?

Mark Carman, Scott Merkin and Chris Bleck join Kap on the panel. Jon Lester looks to get back on track against the Pirates? Should he still be the Cubs Game 1 starter in the playoffs?  Len Kasper joins Kap to discuss.

 

How much will Mitch Trubisky improve in his 2nd preseason game? And will Carlos Rodon end up being the White Sox’ best starter?

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below:

A stellar Jon Lester outing gives the Cubs more than just a win

A stellar Jon Lester outing gives the Cubs more than just a win

It's been a tale of two halves for the Cubs veteran Jon Lester, who after a sparkling first half of baseball that saw him win 12 games with a 2.58 ERA, has looked nothing like a 2018 All-Star. Prior to Thursday's start, Lester had posted a 10.32 ERA, allowed 4 or more runs in 4 of his 5 most recent starts, and had yet to win a game in the second of the season. 

The 34-year-old veteran flipped the script Thursday night, throwing 6-shutout innings while striking out 8 Pirate batters in the Cubs 1-0 win in Pittsburgh. Lester surrendered only 5 hits and baffled the Pirates all-night, finally busting out of his slump and giving the Cubs his 2nd quality start since the All-Star break. 

Lester attacked the bottom portion of the strike zone all night with his fastball, which topped out at 93 mph, generating 4 whiffs with his heater. Over the last month, Lester has said he's felt he can't quite execute his "out" pitches, explaining that when he has a hitter set up for a strikeout he hasn't been able to throw the ball effectively in those moments. 

And while Lester walked off the mound after the 6th inning amassing 8 punch outs, the veteran starter never looked like he was trying to strike out batters. He just continued to dot the corners, occasionally raise the eye-level of the batter with an elevated heater, and threw his secondary pitches just enough to keep the Pittsburgh batters uncomfortable at the plate. 

The Cubs offense once again struggled, facing Ivan Nova who has won four his last five starts against the Cubs, but Ian Happ's solo shot in the 4th inning was enough run support for Lester to push the Cubs to 20 games over .500. But the biggest takeaway from Thursday night's win isn't that the Cubs came out on top, it's that Jon Lester returning to form gives this Chicago rotation something they've lacked seemingly this entire season. 

Stability at the front of the rotation. 

With Cole Hamels impressive three starts in a Cub uniform and Kyle Hendricks finally figuring out his issues on the mound, if Jon Lester can replicate Thursday's performance throughout the rest of the season, the Cubs rotation may finally turn into the strength many thought it could be before the season started. At the very least, Lester showed that whatever he's been working through over the last month of baseball is fixable. 

It's only one start in a string of poor outings for Lester, and while The Athletic's Sahadev Sharma did find some positives in his starts prior to Thursday's big win, Lester will have to show he can maintain this level of pitching through the remainder of this season. But I think our own Tony Andracki put it best tonight on Twitter. 

With the Cubs pitchers finally starting to perform to their expected level, and the return of Yu Darvish looking closer each day, it could be the Cubs starting pitching that carries through the rest of the season.