Tagged in: sweep

Bulls complete sweep of Hornets in LaVine’s return, 120-99

For one night, the Chicago Bulls looked like a playoff-worthy team.

The return of Zach LaVine to the floor certainly had something to do with the Bulls’ inspired effort, which ended a four-game skid.

Nikola Vucevic had 29 points and 14 rebounds, LaVine had 13 points after missing 11 matches due to the league’s health and safety protocols, and the Bulls swept the season series from the Charlotte Hornets with a 120-99 victory on Thursday night.

“It definitely opened up some things for us,” Bulls coach Billy Donovan said of LaVine’s return.

Said Vucevic: “We’re happy to have him back. We played a great game and that helped motivating us and getting us ready to play knowing he was back. So hopefully we will continue to play that way.”

Chicago is a long shot to make the postseason, still 3 1/2 games behind Washington for the final spot in the Eastern Conference play-in tournament.

The Bulls have six games left; the Wizards have five. LaVine said he felt “really tired” after the long layoff and wanted to make sure he didn’t try to do too much.

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“I told (my teammates), don’t expect me to try to go get 40 (points) the first night,” LaVine said.

LaVine averaged more than 30 points in his five previous games before being sidelined, but mostly deferred to his teammates in the first three quarters, attempting six shots. But he started to show his scoring ability with back-to-back jump shots to start the fourth quarter before Donovan took him out after 27 minutes of action.

“I thought there was a lot more opportunities for him to shoot the ball, and to try to go score and attack,” Donovan said.

“But with him being out three weeks and the respect he has for his teammates, and I think he just tried to fit in and take the shots that were there and not try to force things.”

P.J. Washington, who missed Charlotte’s last game for the birth of his child, had 24 points on six 3-pointers. 

Malik Monk added 20 points off the bench for the Hornets, who played without Gordon Hayward, Miles Bridges and Devonte Graham.

Charlotte could have clinched a spot in the play-in tournament had it won.

But Vucevic would have none of it. He returned after missing two games with right adductor tightness and dominated. Looking fresh, he made 12 of 24 shots from the field and was 5 of 7 from 3-point range, helping opening things up for his teammates.

“I think they just played harder than us every time we played them,” Washington said. “For us, it’s just about defense at the end of the day. We have to stop teams from getting offensive rebounds and easy second-chance points.”

The Bulls, who beat the Hornets by 13 and 17 points in the two previous meetings, jumped out to a 48-33 lead this time.

It appeared Charlotte might make a game of it after hitting 8 of 13 3-point attempts in the second quarter to cut the lead to five, but the Bulls extended their lead to 22 entering the fourth quarter.

“We’ve struggled with Chicago all year,” Hornets coach James Borrego said. “Give them credit. For whatever reason, the matchup does not fit our group.”

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Rays finish Bronx sweep, last-place Yanks lose 5th straight

The last-place New York Yankees lost their fifth consecutive game as Yoshi Tsutsugo hit a tiebreaking double off Gerrit Cole in the seventh inning that lifted the Tampa Bay Rays to a 4-2 victory Sunday and a three-game sweep.

Four pitchers combined on the Rays’ second three-hitter of a series in which New York managed 11 hits in all.

Cole (2-1) was hurt by slipshod defense that made three mistakes in the third inning alone, two by center fielder Aaron Hicks and one by left fielder Clint Frazier.

One of the three runs off Cole was unearned, giving the Yankees a major league-high 10.

Joey Wendle added a ninth-inning home run off Darren O’Day, prompting more boos from the crowd of 10,606, who saved their loudest jeers for the final out.

Tampa Bay has won 16 of its last 21 versus the Yankees, including in last year’s Division Series. New York has lost five straight for the first time since Sept. 4-8, getting outscored 30-14. The Yankees have started 5-10 for the first time since 1997, when they finished second to Baltimore at 99-66.

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Aaron Judge struck out three times and is 4 for his last 28, Hicks has 1 hit in his last 15 at-bats, Gleyber Torres 3 in his last 24 and Giancarlo Stanton, despite a second-inning home run, is 3 for his last 26.

Clint Frazier is 1 for his last 24 and does not have an RBI in 40 plate appearances this season.

The Rays swept a series for the second time in their last three visits to Yankee Stadium after sweeping just two of their previous 51 series of three games or more in the Bronx.

Ryan Yarbrough (2-1) followed opener Andrew Kittredge and permitted one run and two hits in five innings. Diego Castillo got four outs, and Jeffrey Springs pitched a 1-2-3 ninth for his first big league save.

Cole struck out 10 in 6 1/3 innings and with 39 strikeouts set a Yankees mark for most in his first four starts, with three more than Masahiro Tanaka in 2014.

Cole retired 13 in a row before Wendle singled with one out in the seventh. Tsutsugo followed by driving a changeup, Cole’s 108th and final pitch, to right-center, where the ball bounced to the wall for an RBI double and a 3-2 lead. Tsutsugo was batting .146 at the time and was benched in the first two games of the series.

New York had been outscored 25-12 since Cole’s previous start and had not led since the second inning Wednesday versus Toronto.

Tampa Bay went ahead 2-1 in the third after Mike Zunino singled leading off. Hicks got a late break on Kevin Kiermaier’s bloop to short center, then bobbled the ball and lost an opportunity for a forceout at second.

Yandy Díaz followed with an RBI single to center, and Hicks allowed the ball to kick off his glove for an error that let Kiermaier take third, sparking another round of boos from the crowd.

Manuel Margot followed by a sacrifice fly that put the Rays ahead 2-1, and Frazier heaved the ball past second as Díaz advanced.

Judge likely saved a run with a tumbling catch on Tsutsugo in right that ended the second with a man on. New York tied it 2-2 in the fifth. Gio Urshela fouled off a pair of two-strike pitches and poked a changeup to the opposite field and into the right-field corner, No. 9 hitter Kyle Higashioka walked and DJ LeMahieu looped an RBI single into right.

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Bucks avoid sweep despite losing Giannis to sprained ankle

The Milwaukee Bucks staved off elimination on Sunday, defeating the Miami Heat 118-115 in overtime despite losing superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo to a right ankle sprain in the second quarter.

After being fouled by Heat forward Andre Iguodala on a drive into the paint at the 10:18 mark of the second quarter of Game 4 of this Eastern Conference semifinal series, Antetokounmpo went down in a heap, yelling out in pain and clutching at his right ankle. He had to be helped off the court but later walked back on to split a pair of free throws.

Antetokounmpo then instantly checked out of the game and walked under his own power to Milwaukee’s locker room. He wouldn’t be seen again, as the Bucks ruled out their superstar forward at halftime, when they were clinging to a 50-48 lead.

“He’ll get treatment through the night, and we’ll just see how he does in the next 24 (to) 48 hours,” stated Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer after the game.

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In an inspired effort led by Khris Middleton, the Bucks managed to hold on after losing the reigning MVP to avoid a 4-0 sweep.

Middleton’s 21 points in the third quarter were the most by a Bucks player in any quarter of a playoff game since Tim Thomas’ 19 in 1996-97.

He ended with 36 points, 8 assists and 8 rebounds in 48 minutes — including a clutch 3-pointer with 6.9 seconds left in overtime against a Miami double-team.

As Bucks players entered the locker room, Antetokounmpo was there to congratulate them on the latest triumph, but it’s still uncertain if he’ll be able to return for Game 5 on Tuesday.

The Bucks are the first team to win in overtime when facing elimination since the Heat in Game 6 of the 2013 NBA Finals versus the San Antonio Spurs.

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