Archive for May, 2010
Nate Robinson pushed the Boston Celtics into the 2010 NBA Finals.
“I told him almost every practice during the playoffs, at every single practice, I made a point of going over to him [to tell him to] stay engaged,” Rivers said. “ ‘At some point you’re going to win a game for us. I can’t tell you when. I can’t tell you when you’re going to play. I can’t tell you if you’re going to play, on what night at least, but at some point you’re going to win a game for us.’ ”
That night was Friday night in Game Six. Robinson scored 11 points during a 14-2 Celtics surge. He capped off the stretch with a 3-pointer that gave the Celtics their biggest lead of the first half, 48-27.
“The game could have gone either way at that point,” Boston captain Paul Pierce said. “Because at that point we were only up about six or eight, Rondo gets hurt, and he comes in as a huge sparkplug and really pushed this game up for us.”
Ubaldo Jimenez of the Colorado Rockies has an unheard of ERA of 0.88, a 9-1 record and a no-hitter so far this season.
Jimenez has allowed just seven earned runs in 10 starts over 71 1/3 innings.
With about two-thirds of the season to go, Jimenez has himself some wriggle room in order to better Bob Gibson’s modern record of 1.12, set in 1968 with the St. Louis Cardinals.
Gibby’s 1.12 is a holy grail of sorts for pitchers. (That and the 30-victory plateau, at least until we figured out that decisions for pitchers are for saps).
The closest anyone has come to Gibson is Dwight Gooden’s 1.53 in 1985. The great Greg Maddux(notes) couldn’t beat Bob, either. Heck, it’s next-to-impossible for anyone to make 30 starts and keep his ERA under 2.00.
So, there’s pretty much no way Jimenez can do this. All he needs is one or two blowups — six earned runs here, seven there — and the chase is over. Ah, well. It happens to the best of them.
Unless, of course, it doesn’t.
Original Photo Zimbio
The Boston Celtics don’t want to follow in the footsteps of the Bruins by losing a series that they led 3 games to none.
If the Celtics drop game 6 at home and are forced to return to Orlando for game 7, they’ll be given the chance of a thumb stuck in an angry bee hive. Does New England — which endured the now-defunct Red Sox curse — still believe in omens? The Magic have been dressing in the same locker room the Flyers used when they broke the Bruins.
More to the point, do the Celtics believe any of the bad vibes swirling? Certainly not. But a strange twist it is, when an NBA team has to studiously ignore a result from the NHL.
“I would doubt that players get affected by what happened in another sport,” Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy said in a Thursday press conference. “I don’t think most of our guys on any of our teams follow hockey very much.”
Lesson from the NBA Eastern Conference finals: How quickly public perception can change in 72 hours.
Original Photo Yahoo
The Suns gave the Los Angeles Lakers all they can handle Phoenix, but can they do it in LA?
Theare not demonstrably smaller than they were a week ago. It just seems that way.
The zippy, zone-happy, 3-point-lovinghave overcome size and experience deficits to tie the Western Conference finals at 2-2. The Lakers claim not to be stunned or concerned. But a pair of road defeats left them a bit diminished in stature — figuratively, if not literally.
The Suns no longer seem intimidated by the Lakers’ lanky 7-footers, Gasol and Andrew Bynum, or bothered by Odom’s length, or in awe of the Lakers’ championships.
The Czech Republic defeated Russia in the Gold Medal game of the IIHF World Hockey Championship.
“There’s no way we should compete on an even level with the team we played tonight when you look at the players they have,” said Czech goalie Tomas Vokoun, who made 35 saves. “In one game, anything can happen. I highly doubt that we would beat them in a playoff series four times to knock them out.”
No one could have seen this coming for a Czech hockey program that had suffered quarter-final losses in four straight major international tournaments, including the Vancouver Olympics.
In fact, defenceman Petr Caslava said he didn’t start believing the team could win the title until Jakub Klepis converted a pass from Jagr just 20 seconds into the gold-medal game. The rest of the game felt like a dream.
“We weren’t a team with many stars but we play with heart,” said Caslava.
Original Photo Yahoo
The Philadelphia Flyers will face the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2010 Stanley Cup Finals.
The Flyers, sparked by a had-to-see-it-to-believe-it shorthanded goal by Mike Richards, won the Eastern Conference title tonight by defeating the Montreal Canadiens, 4-2, before a roaring, ole-ole-ole-singing crowd at the Wachovia Center.
The hard-earned triumph enabled the Flyers to win the conference finals, four games to one, and advance into the Cup Finals for the first time since 1987. They will face the Chicago Blackhawks starting Saturday at 8 p.m. in the Windy City.
One team is going to end a long drought. The Flyers have not won the Cup since 1975; the Blackhawks last won the title in 1961.
The Chicago Blackhawks will be playing for the Stanley Cup after defeating the San Jose Sharks in 4 games.
“I think today was one of those games where everything was kind of going against us,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “We give up a shorthanded goal [and] get hit in the face with the puck. I think we were in a little bit of a disarray for a few minutes.
“Seabs [Brent Seabrook] makes a real nice play on the first goal with good patience, good vision and awareness. And [Dave] Bolland scores a big one at the end of the second period. And all of a sudden it’s anyone’s game.”
At that point, was it really anyone’s game? Once it was tied, the Hawks were not going to be denied. A magnificent third period ensured that, but it was that first goal — reviewed and declared good — that jumpstarted the Hawks and the United Center crowd.
“Sometimes all you need is to see one go in,” Jonathan Toews said. “We had a lot of great opportunities early in the second. Giving up that goal on the power play wasn’t a good one. When you come back and get a break like that, it was great for our energy. It just showed us that if we work hard we’re going to get the results we’re looking for.”
The Los Angeles Lakers won’t talk about the Finals, but their fans will.
Fans in Los Angeles cheered “We want Boston!” at points during both Games 1 and 2 of the Western Conference Finals this week.
“I have zero reaction to that,” Kobe Bryant said when asked about the chant.
Lakers coach Phil Jackson says he didn’t know what was going on at the time, but was upset after learning of the chants.
“I didn’t understand it [at the time], I’m sorry, I’m not that good [at paying attention to cheers during the game] to understand it,” Jackson said. “But after the game I was disappointed when I heard it was [going on].”
The Montreal Canadiens have figured out how to score.
The Canadiens also made a statement regarding Flyers goalie Michael Leighton, who is never to be confused as the second coming of Bernie Parent. They needed to quickly bring him back to his journeyman history. They did it, in part, by pressuring the Flyers’ defense the way they did the Caps and Pens and they shut down Philadelphia’s best playmakers as they had Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. The Canadiens forced the Flyers to dump the puck and got it out of harm’s way quickly. Instead of crashing Leighton’s crease, however, they used their speed to get behind the Flyers’ defense and confront the goalie one-on-one, and they beat him.
Original Photo: Yahoo
Washington Redskins WR Santana Moss has allegedly been using HGH.
The Canadian sports doctor accused of unlawful distribution of human growth hormone, smuggling and other criminal charges this week supplied HGH to Redskins wide receiver Santana Moss, the Washington Post reported Thursday.
Tony Galea, the Toronto physician who has worked with Alex Rodriguez, Tiger Woods, Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran, was on his way to Washington to treat Moss for an injury in September when his assistant, Mary Anne Catalano, was arrested at the Peace Bridge border crossing in Buffalo, the Post said.
The New York Yankees sold $450 million dollars worth of official merchandise last year.
The Yankees brand is worth $328 million (21% of their $1.6 billion total team value), while we calculate the Man U name to be worth $285 million (16% of their $1.835 billion value). The two teams swapped spots as the Yankees saw a merchandising frenzy thanks to a 27th World Series title and the opening of their new stadium.
Gross sales of World Series and Yankees championship-emblazoned products totaled $450 million last year, while the new ballpark spurred 40% growth in sponsorship revenue. Local TV ratings on YES Network (Forbes is a partner in a show on YES) were up 11%, even as most baseball teams saw ratings decline. Also helping push the Yanks to the top was a strengthening U.S. dollar, which gained 17% on the British pound over the 12-month period we reviewed.
People are wondering about Jonathan Papelbon of the Boston Red Sox.
What’s happened? Where’s the put-away splitter? Has he become so predictable that the notoriously patient Yankees jumped on first pitches when they were running out of outs? Is his velocity down? Is last October’s nightmare still haunting him? All these things happen to closers, often after just a few years on top of their game. Don’t go by Mariano Rivera – he’s the exception, not the rule.
Papelbon, too, is a high-maintainence character, a loose cannon in a clubhouse that likes to keep it all business. He has always seemed a little too concerned with what closer’s make, perhaps because he turned away from starting, which is where the biggest money is. And he will soon be a free agent.
Should the Red Sox explore Daniel Bard as the closer? Not that he has been perfect, but it may be his job sooner rather than later, who maybe it’s time to give him some save chances. Should the Red Sox look to deal Papelbon for help in other areas? They have made block-buster mid-season deals before – remember, they traded Manny and Nomar away at deadline time. Should they encourage Papelbon to work on other pitches by using him in non-save situations?
Original Photo zimbio
Dwight Howard of the Orlando Magic thinks he fell right into the Celtics’ trap.
Howard said he fell right into Boston’s game plan on how to defend him, and that’s why he struggled.
“I think I got into a little wrestling match with all of those guys,” Howard said. “Like I said earlier, that’s playing into their advantage. They want me to wrestle and fight with them. That takes me off my game. So I just have to not wrestle with them and just play.”
The LeBron James sweepstakes are underway, and the Chicago Bulls look like a possible destination.
Any team that gets him along with Derrick Rose and [Joakim] Noah, you’re going to have a good team,” Van Gundy told ESPNChicago.com before Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals. “A lot depends on how much they have to give up to get him. If it’s a sign and trade, what other moves they’d make, but I would not think they would be a championship-caliber team right away. But I think they’ll be a top-3 or -4 team.”
The Philadelphia Flyers must have a higher power on their side.
This can’t be happening, but it is.
“This is like a storybook,” said Ed Snider, the man who brought hockey to Philadelphia. “How can you go down, 3-0, in their barn and come back and beat them, 4-3? How can you come back from 0-3 in games and beat them 4-3? These guys are unbelievable. They just won’t quit. They’re incredible.”
It happened because Simon Gagne chose team over caution, returning for Game 4 despite a surgically repaired toe. All Gagne did was score the overtime game-winner to avert a sweep in Game 4, net a pair of goals in Game 5, and then fire the series-winner past Boston’s Tuukka Rask in Game 7.
Original Photo sathyasaibaba
Robert Luongo has been facing criticism since the Vancouver Canucks were eliminated from the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The $7 million netminder with the fail whale on his chest offered a stink-in-rink performance.
Yet he begins to collect a $3 million raise next fall from a franchise that has failed to deliver its fans a Stanley Cup after 39 seasons.
Luongo had the tenacity to say “improvement was made” because he allowed two fewer goals in the Canucks’ 2010 elimination game compared with exactly a year earlier.
Such an insult to the thousands of fans who spend millions of dollars on Canucks’ tickets and trinkets or watch on TV because they can afford neither!
Luongo has the rest of spring, all of summer and some of fall to think about it before he gets a chance for redemption. Until then, he remains another name in the long list of Canucks’ goaltenders who failed to backstop the team into the conference finals, including Felix Potvin, Kevin Weekes and Dan Cloutier.
Original Photo benchedwhale.com
The home of the New York Mets has developed a problem with garbage blowing onto the field.
Dave Howard, the Mets’ executive vice president for business operations, said the team had no plans to add more trash cans or extra workers to the 18-member crew to deal with the litter.
“It’s sort of good now that there is debris to be blown out there,” Howard said. “It shows people are spending some money and buying food and drink and enjoying themselves.”
Howard says there are hundreds of wastebaskets around the stadium. “But, typically, when people go to their seats, they just drop it on the floor, which is sort of a baseball tradition,” he added.
He said there were no adjustments the Mets could make in the stadium to cut off or redirect the strength of the breezes and noted that Philadelphia and Boston had similar problems recently.
The Montreal Canadiens eliminated the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The Canadiens defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-2 in Game 7 of their NHL Eastern Conference semifinal on Wednesday night — moving the Canadiens into the conference final for the first time since 1993, last time the Canadiens won the Stanley Cup.
The Canadiens will meet the winner of the semifinal between Philadelphia Flyers and Boston Bruins. The Bruins lead the best-of-seven series 3-2, with Game 6 on Wednesday night.
The Canadiens ran up a 4-0 lead and then relied on goaltender Jaroslav Halak to weather a furious comeback by the Penguins.
The Canadiens shocked the standing-room-only crowd of 17,132 at Mellon Arena by taking a 1-0 lead after only 32 seconds. Canadiens forward Brian Gionta scored his sixth goal of the playoffs on a power play when he deflected a backhand shot by rookie defenceman P.K. Subban. Gionta added an insurance goal on a power play in the third period.
Original Photo: flickr
Prokhorov, the oligarch with interests in banking, precious metals, real estate, and media, is worth an estimated $13.4 billion, making him the second richest NBA owner behind Portland’s Paul Allen.
He will have numerous decisions to make right away, because the team will have arguably the busiest summer in its history following a 12-70 season under outgoing owner Bruce Ratner.
Prokhorov is expected to give team president Rod Thorn a contract extension sometime next week, and that will be followed by the NBA Draft Lottery in Secaucus — where Prokhorov himself will probably represent the team Tuesday night — and a free agent market in which the Nets hope to have at least $26 million to spend on new players.
The Cleveland Cavaliers are making changes for Game 5 against the Boston Celtics.
Rondo is averaging 21.8 points, 13 assists and 8.3 rebounds. One obvious option is the switch to James, who has shut down Paul Pierce so far and said Sunday that he would be willing to check Rondo.
Brown said he was worried that if James was taken off Pierce, Pierce could find his touch after averaging 11.8 points and shooting only 32 percent from the field in the series.
“You put LeBron on Rondo when he’s doing a nice job of making Paul work and you have to put a smaller guy on Paul, and we all know what Paul is capable of doing,” Brown said. “You do that for long stretches, and it can open up a can of worms, and it puts some pressure on LeBron to work defensively throughout the entire game. We’ll pick and choose our spots when to put LeBron on him.”
Original Photo Yahoo
The San Jose Sharks have made it back to the NHL’s Western Conference Finals for the first time since 2004.
Maybe now star forwards Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau can go about their business in relative peace without hearing or reading about their inability to come up big when the games are the most important.
“Who knows, who knows,” Thornton said. “We want to win the next series – we will win the next series, hopefully — and then I think everybody will be kind of quiet. But for now it’s a nice feeling.”
Thornton and Marleau, who took some heat even after the Sharks defeated the Colorado Avalanche in the opening round of this year’s playoffs, came through in the clutch and played instrumental roles in San Jose’s five-game triumph over the Detroit Red Wings in the second round to advance to the Western Conference finals for the first time since facing the Calgary Flames in 2004.
Original Photo Yahoo
The San Antonio Spurs will likely be eliminated by the Phoenix Suns, but it won’t be Manu Ginobili’s fault.
Ginobili scored 27 points against the Suns on Friday night, starting alongside Parker. Manu shot 10-17 from the field and 4-9 from the 3-point line. Entering Game 3, Ginobili was shooting to the tune of 27-77 from the field, a slump-worthy 35%, since breaking his nose in the Spurs’ first round series against the Dallas Mavericks.
Ginobili claimed that the bandages on his broken nose didn’t affect his shot, but the numbers begged to differ. However, with his shooting performance on Friday night, perhaps he was being truthful. Maybe it was simply a change of starting position that he needed.
When Ginobili started next to Hill in the backcourt, it was Manu who did more of the facilitating on the offensive end. Hill spent more time off the ball and spotting up on the perimeter, while Ginobili ran the pick-and-roll offense.
Original Photo Yahoo
The Florida Panthers had a rough season.
Said DeBoer: “Everyone is disappointed and no one is shirking responsibility or hiding or pointing fingers. I think the collective message is we can all do more so we’re not in this spot again.”
In February, team management announced that major changes were coming to the roster. The future for Sexton, who is working on a one-year deal, is up in the air. The team’s owners say there will be discussions on his future. On Monday, Sexton said he was moving forward and expects to be a part of the team’s rebuilding.
Sexton and DeBoer will meet soon to talk about Florida’s coaching staff — DeBoer is under contract for next season, but his assistants have expiring contracts — as well as to talk about players they want back.
The Chicago Bulls need a new coach, and Scottie Pippen is on record as saying he’d like to coach in the NBA.
Living now in Fort Lauderdale, Pippen, 44, sounded puzzled by his lack of opportunities today within the NBA. He wants to coach in the league, putting to use everything he learned during a 17-year career when he redefined the small forward position.
He was rebuffed by the Bulls two years ago before they hired Vinny Del Negro, and his phone doesn’t ring very often, surprising for the greatness he once brought to the game.
He was a seven-time All-Star, a Defensive Player of the Year, and usually the set-up man that allowed Jordan to shine like he did.
He spoke to FanHouse Friday at ESPN The Weekend, being held at the Walt Disney World Resort.
Tim Povtak: Why aren’t you coaching today in the NBA?
Scottie Pippen: Jobs in the NBA are difficult to get. I would like to be there one day, but it’s a matter of being in the right place at the right time. Right now, I’ve been focusing on my family. I want my kids growing up in the right environment. That’s where I’ve been the last few years. I expect to get back to the NBA soon.
Original Photo dribleo.com
Chipper Jones of the Atlanta Braves wishes he took better care of himself.
While playing three consecutive seasons (1999-2001) and part of a fourth (2005) with Jordan, Jones concedes that he often arrived at the park, took a few swings, jogged a coupled times in the outfield and deemed himself ready to play. Thus, he at least had some understanding about why Jordan recently questioned his dedication to preparation during a recent interview with MLB Network Radio on Sirius XM.
“I think at some point when you start getting older, you really have to do the extra things,” Jordan recently said. “You’ve got to get in that whirlpool, you’ve got to stretch, and really work hard to keep your flexibility before you get out there on the field. And I’m not sure if he’s dedicating himself to doing that. He’s so used to — you know, I played with him so long — just sitting around and waiting for the game, and take a couple jogs and go play. But as you get older, you know, you cannot do that. You’ve gotta go the extra mile to be ready to play.”
Original Photo zimbio
A Philadelphia Phillies fan ran on the field and police used a Taser on him.
In the eighth inning, in front of a sellout crowd, the fan — wearing a black Phillies hat, red Phillies T-shirt and khaki shorts — jumped over a wall in right field, eluded two security officers in the outfield and was eventually tased, bringing him to the ground immediately.
Running onto the field is a crime, but normally fans are tackled to the ground. Police spokesman Lt. Frank Vanore told the AP that Commissioner Charles Ramsey reviewed the tape and felt the officer acted within the department’s guidelines. Vanore added that internal affairs is investigating.
The 17-year-old was charged with defiant trespass, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest, the AP added. His name has not been released because he is a minor.
Original Photo csmonitor.com
New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton is facing allegations that he stole Vicodin from the Saints’ training staff.
Former Saints employee Geoff Santini, an ex-FBI employee, sued the club alleging employees had concealed the theft of Vicodin from the team’s coffers.
On Saturday, ProFootballTalk reported it was Payton and linebackers coach Joe Vitt who were the two team employees alleged to have been involved in the cover-up in the lawsuit.
The Saints denied any wrongdoing, with team spokesman Greg Bensel calling the charges “unfounded” and saying the club would “aggressively” defend itself.
Payton issued his own statement on Saturday in which he denied wrongdoing:
“I have reviewed Geoff Santini’s lawsuit and the unwarranted publicity it has received,. I have never abused or stolen vicodin or any other medication and I fully support the Saints’ position in this matter as expressed by Greg Bensel yesterday.”
The Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Utah Jazz in game 1 of their playoff series, but some people are still mad at coach Phil Jackson.
The Lakers $12 million dollar head coach made a serious miscalculation. After the starters had ended both the second and third quarters with an eight-point margin, he put in the reserves to begin the fourth quarter.
Then Phil Jackson sat back calmly and watched his reserves go on an 0-for-9 binge as the Jazz not only cut the Lakers lead but took over the game. It was under seven minutes when he finally put Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Derek Fisher back in the game.
Here they had built a lead. Now Jackson was asking them to go in the game cold and build another lead against a team that was suddenly hot.
So much for the vacation, the siesta, or the intermission as one writer had put it.
The Lakers not only had to work to try to win a game that they already had won. But Bryant, Gasol and Lamar Odom had to work doubly hard to get back adrenalin and their swagger back and overcome a four-point deficit.
Original Photo Yahoo
The Washington Capitals are trying to sort out where it all went wrong.
On Friday, the Caps circled the wagons and wisely chose to defend their core players and their coaches against the slightest hint of lost confidence, interpreting the defeat in a way that allows them, and their fans, to go forward with the least damage.
“Everybody has to take their full share of responsibility. But I can’t allow five or six days to skew how I see the whole team,” General Manager George McPhee said. “We have good coaches. They are going to be here a long time. That is not part of the evaluation.
“We really liked our team and still do,” McPhee added. “These young star players got us to where we are.” So, don’t expect many, if any, of the biggest names to go anywhere.
Original Photo sbnation
NASCAR drivers Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon have settled their feud.
Gordon didn’t like the way Johnson raced him two weeks ago at Texas and uncharacteristically expressed anger in his teammate following last week’s race at Talladega. Johnson admittedly made a mistake late in the race that contributed to Gordon wrecking.
Team owner Rick Hendrick moderated a conference call this week between the pair of four-time champions, and Gordon said Friday that everything is fine.
“It’s amazing what happens when you get Mr. H involved,” Gordon said before qualifying at Richmond International Raceway. “The three of us had a good conversation. I think we all recognize what contributed to everything that happened at Texas, as well as Talladega. We feel like the most important stuff is all the communication we have in the week and at the race track — what that contributes to our success as a group is too important to let a rivalry escalate out of control.
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