- Created on 10 January 2013
(AP) — Brandon Jennings stretched out his arms and held his hands just over the ground as he glided toward center court, celebrating another big 3-pointer with one of Nate Robinson's usual moves.
Yup, Jennings was listening to Robinson's trash talk, and he had the perfect response.
The speedy point guard scored 20 of his 35 points in the third quarter, and the Milwaukee Bucks beat the Chicago Bulls 104-96 on Wednesday night for their second consecutive victory under interim coach Jim Boylan.
Robinson scored 13 of his 19 points in the first period, but was unable to stop Jennings once he got going in the third.
"A little trash talking before the second half," Jennings said. "I guess he felt like he had it going, he was getting the best of me. I really don't take trash talking too kindly because I don't really do a lot of trash talking. I warned him, so, hey, it happens."
Mike Dunleavy had 16 points and Monta Ellis finished with 14 for Milwaukee, which made 10 of 22 3-point attempts. Larry Sanders grabbed 12 rebounds and blocked seven shots.
"I think the whole team played well, but obviously Brandon, offensively, really got it going," Boylan said. "I thought our defense got a little more active, coming up with loose balls. Larry's presence around the basket is intimidating. Guys go in there and they're looking for him."
Carlos Boozer had 22 points and 11 rebounds for the Bulls, who have dropped their last two games against Milwaukee at United Center. The Bulls blew a 27-point lead in the third quarter as Milwaukee snapped a nine-game losing streak against Chicago with a 93-92 victory on Nov. 26.
"Just second half, I think they made a lot of tough shots," Boozer said. "Brandon was amazing. We missed some shots we usually make, and that was the game."
Boozer has recorded a double-double in six consecutive games while playing some of his best basketball in three seasons with the Bulls. It's the best such streak for Chicago since Joakim Noah also had a double-double in six straight games in 2009.
The Bucks parted ways with Scott Skiles on Monday in what was called a mutual decision, and turned to his top assistant for at least the rest of the season. Boylan also served as an interim coach in Chicago when Skiles was let go during the 2007-08 season.
"I told the guys that I'm just gonna have fun with this," Boylan said. "Coach as well as I can coach, motivate these guys, and that's what I'm gonna do."
It was a lot of fun against Chicago, especially when Jennings got on a roll in the third. He was 4 for 7 from long range in the period, including two 3s during a quick 8-0 burst that gave the Bucks a 72-64 lead with 4:48 left.
"Teams go in stretches where they score and score and score," Robinson said. "It's like you can't do nothing about it. But tonight we beat ourselves. Brandon Jennings got hot. It happens."
Robinson also downplayed his running conversation with Jennings.
"A couple of dirty plays exchanged, but, you know, nothing to complain about," he said. "It's basketball."
Jennings added a key floater in the fourth as the Bucks won for only the seventh time in their last 27 games against the Bulls.
Luol Deng scored 18 points for Chicago, which was seeking a season-best fourth consecutive victory.
Robinson got the start in place of Kirk Hinrich, who was sidelined with a right elbow injury. It was the fifth start of the season for the streaky guard, who made three 3-pointers in the first quarter to help Chicago grab a 33-23 lead after one.
The Bulls still held a 10-point lead in the final seconds of the first half when Jennings connected from long range, slicing Chicago's advantage to 57-50 at the break.
- Created on 10 January 2013
(AP) — Nobody was happier about the Hall of Fame shutout than the Hall of Famers themselves.
Goose Gossage, Al Kaline, Dennis Eckersley and others are in no rush to open the door to Cooperstown for anyone linked to steroids.
Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa: Keep 'em all out of our club.
"If they let these guys in ever — at any point — it's a big black eye for the Hall and for baseball," Gossage said in a phone interview with The Associated Press. "It's like telling our kids you can cheat, you can do whatever you want, and it's not going to matter."
For only the second time in 42 years, baseball writers failed to elect anyone to the Hall of Fame on Wednesday, sending a firm signal that stars of the Steroids Era will be held to a different standard.
All the awards and accomplishments collected over storied careers by Bonds, Clemens and Sosa — all eligible for the first time — could not offset suspicions those exploits were artificially boosted by performance-enhancing drugs.
"I'm kind of glad that nobody got in this year," Kaline said. "I feel honored to be in the Hall of Fame. And I would've felt a little uneasy sitting up there on the stage, listening to some of these new guys talk about how great they were."
Gossage went even further.
"I think the steroids guys that are under suspicion got too many votes," he said. "I don't know why they're making this such a question and why there's so much debate. To me, they cheated. Are we going to reward these guys?"
Not this year, at least.
Bonds received just 36.2 percent of the vote and Clemens 37.6 in totals announced by the Hall and the Baseball Writers' Association of America, both well short of the 75 percent needed for election — yet still too close for Gossage's taste. Sosa, eighth on the career home run list, got 12.5 percent.
"Wow! Baseball writers make a statement," Eckersley wrote on Twitter. "Feels right."
The results keep the sport's career home run leader (Bonds) and most decorated pitcher (Clemens) out of Cooperstown — for now. Bonds, Clemens and Sosa have up to 14 more years on the writers' ballot to gain baseball's highest honor.
Bonds, baseball's only seven-time MVP, hit 762 home runs — including a record 73 in 2001. He has denied knowingly using performance-enhancing drugs and was convicted of one count of obstruction of justice for giving an evasive answer in 2003 to a grand jury investigating PEDs.
Clemens, the game's lone seven-time Cy Young Award winner, is third in career strikeouts (4,672) and ninth in wins (354). He was acquitted of perjury charges stemming from congressional testimony during which he denied using PEDs.
"If you don't think Roger Clemens cheated, you're burying your head in the sand," Gossage said.
Sosa, who finished with 609 home runs, was among those who tested positive in MLB's 2003 anonymous survey, The New York Times reported in 2009. He told a congressional committee in 2005 that he never took illegal performance-enhancing drugs. He also was caught using a corked bat during his career.
"What really gets me is seeing how some of these players associated with drugs have jumped over many of the greats in our game," Kaline said. "Numbers mean a lot in baseball, maybe more so than in any other sport. And going back to Babe Ruth, and players like Harmon Killebrew and Frank Robinson and Willie Mays, seeing people jump over them with 600, 700 home runs, I don't like to see that.
"I don't know how great some of these players up for election would've been without drugs. But to me, it's cheating," he added. "Numbers are important, but so is integrity and character. Some of these guys might get in someday. But for a year or two, I'm glad they didn't."
Gossage, noting that cyclist Lance Armstrong was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles following allegations that he used performance-enhancing drugs, believes baseball should go just as far. He thinks the record book should be overhauled, taking away the accomplishments of players like Bonds, Sosa, Rafael Palmeiro and Mark McGwire — who has admitted using steroids and human growth hormone during his playing days.
McGwire, 10th on the career home run chart, received 16.9 percent of the vote on his seventh Hall try, down from 19.5 last year.
"I don't know if baseball knows how to deal with this at all," Gossage said. "Why don't they strip these guys of all these numbers? You've got to suffer the consequences. You get caught cheating on a test, you get expelled from school."
Juan Marichal is one Hall of Famer who doesn't see it that way. The former pitcher believes Bonds, Clemens and Sosa belong in Cooperstown.
"I think that they have been unfair to guys who were never found guilty of anything," Marichal said. "Their stats define them as immortals. That's the reality and that cannot be denied."
The BBWAA election rules say "voting shall be based upon the player's record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character, and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played."
While much of the focus this year was on Bonds, Clemens and Sosa, every other player with Cooperstown credentials was denied, too.
Craig Biggio, 20th on the career list with 3,060 hits, came the closest. He was chosen on 68.2 percent of the 569 ballots, 39 shy of election. Among other first-year eligibles, Mike Piazza received 57.8 percent and Curt Schilling 38.8. Jack Morris topped holdovers with 67.7 percent.
None of those players have been publicly linked to PED use, so it's difficult to determine whether they fell short due to suspicion, their stats — or the overall stench of the era they played in.
"What we're witnessing here is innocent people paying for the sinners," Marichal said.
Hall of Fame slugger Mike Schmidt said that comes with the territory.
"It's not news that Bonds, Clemens, Sosa, Palmeiro, and McGwire didn't get in, but that they received hardly any consideration at all. The real news is that Biggio and Piazza were well under the 75 percent needed," Schmidt wrote in an email to the AP.
"Curt Schilling made a good point. Everyone was guilty. Either you used PEDs, or you did nothing to stop their use. This generation got rich. Seems there was a price to pay."
At ceremonies in Cooperstown on July 28, the only inductees will be three men who died more than 70 years ago: Yankees owner Jacob Ruppert, umpire Hank O'Day and barehanded catcher Deacon White. They were chosen last month by the 16-member panel considering individuals from the era before integration in 1947.
AP Baseball Writer Ben Walker, AP Sports Writers Ronald Blum and Dan Gelston, and AP freelance writer Dionisio Soldevila contributed to this report.
- Created on 08 January 2013
(AP) — The Chicago Bulls have been perfect in the New Year, winning all three of their games.
"We had a tough last couple weeks of 2012," Boozer said. "The new year, we've got a couple of resolutions — the biggest one is getting more wins."
The Chicago Bulls are doing just that.
Boozer had 24 points and 11 rebounds to lead the Bulls to a 118-92 rout of the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday night.
It was the third straight game that Boozer has eclipsed 20 points. This time he did it against the team that drafted him in 2002.
"I'm just playing off my teammates," he said. "We work hard together. We're hanging out together - it's like a college team.
"Games like this are fun because everybody played so great. We like moments like this. We wish all the games could be like this."
Joakim Noah added 11 points and 11 rebounds while Luol Deng had 19 points and seven assists for the Bulls, who beat the Cavaliers for an 11th straight time.
Chicago (19-13), which posted a season-high in points, moved to 11-1 when Boozer and Noah have double-doubles.
Dion Waiters led Cleveland (8-28) with 18 points. C.J. Miles and Kyrie Irving had 15 points apiece.
"They come out with a different aggression that our guys have to get used to," Irving said. "They play like a playoff team every single night. That's what you get out of a Bulls team."
The Bulls turned a close game into a rout in the second half by dominating the offensive glass and forcing turnovers. Shooting 53.7 percent from the field and hitting 10 of 14 3-pointers didn't hurt, either.
"We're taking the right (3s)," Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. "They're in rhythm now, that's the big thing. It's off ball movement, hitting the paint, coming out, the extra pass.they're rhythm 3s."
The Bulls' bench, which has also been a glaring weak spot most of the season, helped stabilize the offense as Chicago overcame an early 10-point deficit. Taj Gibson had 18 points in reserve, and Marco Belinelli added 15 as Chicago broke the 100-point barrier for the first time since Christmas Day.
Cleveland had won three of its last four on the road. The Cavaliers haven't beaten the Bulls since March 19, 2010.
"They've just got our number," Cavaliers coach Byron Scott said. "They feel very confident and comfortable playing against us. From a physical standpoint they're just much more physical and aggressive than we are right now."
Tristan Thompson continued to thrive in relief of Anderson Varejao, who missed his 10th straight game due to a right knee contusion. Thompson scored 14 points and grabbed eight rebounds. It's just the third time in 10 games he failed to record a double-double.
Irving and Miles each scored nine first-quarter points as Cleveland jumped out to a 30-22 lead, leading by as many as 10.
Belinelli had 13 points in the second quarter to jumpstart the struggling Bulls offense. Gibson added 11 first-half points as Chicago took a three-point advantage into the break.
The Bulls' defense also seemed to kick in as Irving was held scoreless in the second quarter, and Miles was limited to three points.
Irving had four assists in the first quarter, and only two the rest of the game.
"We have to make him work," Thibodeau said. "He did miss some shots he normally makes. Against a guy like that you need your whole team. We were fortunate."
Miles left in the third quarter due to back spasms and did not return.
"I'm all right," Miles said. "I did it in the first quarter. I was able to keep it loose the first half. At halftime it just kind of got to me. I couldn't really get it to open back up and get loose."
- Created on 09 January 2013
ESPN sports commentator Rob Parker was finally given the boot by his employers on Tuesday as part of the fallout from his statements last month, when he questioned NFL Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III's (RG3, pictured) Blackness, according to NFL.com.
- Created on 03 January 2013
(AP) — The Chicago Bulls haven't felt like themselves for much of the past few weeks.
They're hoping a much-needed win is the first step in finding their way back.
Carlos Boozer had a season-high 31 points and 11 rebounds, Luol Deng scored 23 points and the Bulls hung on to beat the Orlando Magic 96-94 on Wednesday night.
Taj Gibson added 21 points and 10 rebounds for the Bulls, who played without center Joakim Noah. Chicago was outrebounded 37-34 in Noah's absence but exploited an injury-plagued Magic front court, outscoring them 42-32 in the paint.
Jameer Nelson missed a leaning jumper in the closing seconds that would have tied it, sending Orlando to its seventh straight loss overall and fifth in a row at home.
"We're down. We've been shorthanded all season," Boozer said. "But this game we were without Joakim and I thought Taj came in and played a monster game. Luol was normal with his All-Star performance. We did a god job at the end being resilient ... We did a good job of when we needed to of getting stops at the very end."
Nelson returned to the lineup after missing two games with a sore hip and scored a season-high 32 points. Nik Vucevic finished with 20 points and 12 rebounds, and Arron Afflalo added 19 points for the Magic.
They dropped to 0-7 without Glen Davis, who could be sidelined for a few more weeks as he rehabs a sprained left shoulder.
"I think teammates would agree that there's no secret that Glen adds a different element to our team," Magic coach Jacque Vaughn said. "But ... it's about time for us to realize as a team that Glen's probably not going to play two days from now, so we need to continue to work together ... and muster the energy and approach still."
Vaughn rested forward Maurice Harkless for the second consecutive game. But he said it was simply a coach's decision to ensure the rookie, who was thrust into a starting role while Hedo Turkoglu was injured, is getting enough rest.
In the meantime, Orlando has just a handful of days to attend to its continuing shortcomings with the Atlantic division-leading New York Knicks visiting Saturday.
"That's something we need to do," Vucevic said of the Magic's fourth-quarter effort. "We never give up. We stick together as a team ... That's something going forward that is going to help us going down the road."
Despite Noah watching the game from the team hotel as he fought flu-like symptoms, the Bulls did get back guard Kirk Hinrich after he missed a game with a sore left knee. Hinrich's shooting ability and ball handling allowed them to spread the court and get some easy looks inside against the smaller Magic lineup.
They took advantage of the absence Davis, and a tender Gustavo Ayon (sore thigh), as Chicago's starting frontcourt of Deng, Boozer and Gibson outscored their Magic counterparts 75-30.
"It was better, but it's not what it needs to be," Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. "We had good offensive energy, and not the necessary defensive energy. It was better, but we still have to do much better than we did tonight."
The Bulls led by as many as 18 in the third quarter before a 13-6 run by the Magic trimmed it to 82-71 entering the fourth.
Despite its size disadvantage, Orlando held its own on the boards and stayed close down the stretch.
Nelson scored five straight points to cut the deficit to six and Vucevic dropped in back-to-back layups that trimmed it to 86-84 with 5:12 left.
Two shaky Magic possessions and a turnover allowed the Bulls to respond with eight straight points, pushing the lead to 94-84.
J.J. Redick hit a 3-pointer and a Vucevic got a dunk to give Orlando life, and following a Bulls miss, Redick found Afflalo, who swished a 3-pointer from the corner to cut it to 94-92 with 46.3 seconds on the clock.
The Bulls came up empty on their ensuing possession, and Gibson blocked a Nelson layup attempt out of bounds with only 11.3 remaining. Nelson then found a lane to the basket, but put up an off-balance, leaning floater that bounced off the rim.
Deng rebounded the miss and knocked down two free throws with 4.2 left to secure the win.
The Bulls' starting frontcourt held a 37-15 scoring advantage over the Magic in the first half, helping the Bulls build a 54-46 halftime lead. Boozer was the most active, scoring 17 points on 8-of-11 shooting. The Bulls also held a 20-14 edge on points in the paint.
"It was big," Gibson said. "We were down a lot of guys and we have guys banged up. We just have to come together as a whole and try to take each game one at a time. The way we got it down in the second half in in particular in the last quarter speaks volumes."