- Created on 06 May 2013
LeBron James was at his best this season, and the voters tasked with selecting the NBA’s Most Valuable Player took notice.
Every voter except one, that is.
The NBA still does not have a unanimous MVP, though no one has come closer than James did this season. The Miami Heat star was presented with the Maurice Podoloff Trophy for the fourth...
- Created on 05 May 2013
After the loss to Indiana in Game 5 in which the Pacers took a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven NBA Eastern Conference series, Atlanta coach Larry Drew referred to the lack of team play by his Hawks in saying, "We got into kind of a me-me-me state."
But after connecting on just one field goal the entire second quarter, and shooting a meager 6.7 percent from the field during the period – it was more like "not me" for his team in Friday's Game 6.
Despite going on a 23-9 run to pull to within three points late in the fourth quarter, the Hawks failed to recover from what may well have been the worst quarter in league history as they were eliminated in the opening round of the NBA playoffs by the Pacers, 81-73.
Indiana broke a 13-game losing streak in Philips Arena, and for the second consecutive season the Hawks were unsuccessful in advancing past the opening round of the playoffs. The Pacers move on to face the New York Knicks and former Atlanta head coach Mike Woodson.
"We finally got the monkey off our back in this building," said Indiana guard George Hill.
Not only did the Hawks experience a shooting drought in the first half when they did choose to shoot against the league-leading defensive unit, but on many occasions were reluctant to even go to the basket – often over-passing or throwing the ball away. Atlanta was 9-for-38 from the field in the first half.
Toward the end of the fourth-quarter rally with just under two minutes left in the game, again Josh Smith and Al Horford passed up driving layups – choosing to go instead to teammate Johan Petro, who missed the 21-foot 3-point attempt from the corner. Horford and Smith would then both miss attempts from 16-, and 24-feet out respectively with about a minute left to play and with the Hawks trailing by six, before the Pacers would tally the last five points to seal the win.
After compiling 34.8 percent shooting in the first quarter, Atlanta was able to stay close enough through four lead changes and six ties. That is, until the disastrous second quarter that proved to be fatal.
"I think the story of this game was our inability to make a shot," Drew said during the post-game press conference.
Atlanta's scoring drought began at the 10:35 mark in the second with the Hawks trailing by just one point, 23-22.
They then missed 13 straight shots while failing to drive to the basket for any layups. Eleven of those 13 misguided attempts were from 16 or more feet from the basket. In fact, the Hawks had just four points on the break the entire game – none in the first three quarters.
"We did not get out and run...we were standing at half court," Drew continued. "A few times we just settled for the jump shot when we knew we had to go to the post."
But if nothing else, these Hawks showed character by not going down without a fight.
After trailing by as much as 19 points – 52-33 at the 7:31 mark in the third quarter – Atlanta began to rally from behind to cut the lead to nine points by 8:20 in the fourth. And by 2:55, the Hawks deficit was cut to five...then three, 76-73, by 2:19. However, the Pacers were able to hang on long enough for time to expire.
Hill and David West scored 21 points apiece to lead the Pacers, and Roy Hibbert added 17 points and 11 rebounds.
Atlanta was led by Horford's 15 points, followed by 14 each by Smith and Devin Harris.
- Created on 02 May 2013
Just three days after he was given the boot by the New York Giants, linebacker Michael Boley (pictured) allegedly turned himself over to Alabama police Feb. 8 and was charged with child abuse, according to TMZ.
He was released later that day. The entire incident involved no fanfare.
Boley, who was a...
- Created on 04 May 2013
The Atlanta Braves continue to struggle when Kris Medlen (1-4) takes the mound, a drastic contrast to last season when he posted a 10-1 record. Medlen suffered his third straight loss as the Washington Nationals came away with a 3-1 victory in Thursday night's series finale at Turner Field.
Washington's starting pitcher Dan Haren (3-3) pitched eight innings giving up just four hits with four strikeouts. In 2012 the Braves won 23 consecutive games in which Medlen pitched, however Atlanta is just 2-4 in his starts this season with Braves' hitters providing him an average of just two runs in support (the lowest of any Braves starter).
"I'm tired of giving interviews where I say I tried to keep us in the game," Medlen said. "I just didn't have my 'A-game' in those first two innings; I told myself just go out there and just pitch the...ball."
Medlen pitched seven innings and was charged with seven hits and three earned runs and a season-high eight strikeouts, but struggled early, giving up doubles in the first and second inning. In the first inning, the Nationals claimed an early 1-0 lead after Denard Span led off with a double and scored on a single from Steve Lombardozzi.
"I thought Medlen was outstanding and he gave us seven strong innings," Braves Manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "If it wasn't for an out at [third base] we might still be playing."
Along with a poor hitting performance, Medlen didn't receive much help from the defense. In the second inning a tricky hop down the third base line proved costly for the Braves when third baseman Chris Johnson misplayed a ground ball allowing two runs to score for the Nationals. The play was originally ruled an error, but was later changed to a two-run double for Span. Adam Laroche hit a double to lead off the inning and Anthony Rendon hit a single. Both runners would score and were the difference in the game. After Thursday's loss the Braves now hold on to a slim 2 1/2 game lead in the National League East.
"Johnson said he just booted the ball. Nine times out of ten that's a play he makes," Fredi Gonzalez said.
The Braves were able to squeak just one run across in the seventh inning when Dan Uggla managed to connect with a home run on a 3-2 breaking pitch, ending Atlanta's scoreless streak at 15 2/3 innings over two games.
"It's very frustrating, our guy pitched well we just couldn't get any run support behind him," Uggla said.
Haren kept the Braves hitters off balance with his cutters in the strike zone and threw 62 of his 90 total pitches for strikes.
"[Haren] was doing whatever he wanted to do out there, he had great command of his pitches," Uggla said.
Gonzalez said before the game that his star hitters' (Uggla and B.J. Upton) lack of production is not because of a lack of effort
"I tend to stay out of the batting cage when it comes to those guys," said Gonzalez. "They are putting the work in so you have to stay with your players when they are struggling."
Despite the Braves recent hitting slump, Evan Gattis and Justin Upton were awarded National League rookie of the Month and National League Player of the Month for April respectively. Since joining the Braves, Upton has been one of the few hitters in the lineup with consistent offense. In 26 games, Upton leads the majors in home runs (12) and is tied for first with 22 runs scored. Gattis continues his meteoric rise as one of the top rookie in Major League Baseball. Gattis leads all rookies in home runs (6), runs batted in (16) and has a batting average of .250.
- Created on 02 May 2013
The only home run of the evening and nearly perfect pitching from Jordan Zimmerman would be all the Nationals needed to take down Paul Maholm and the Atlanta Braves 2-0 Wednesday night, ending a five game winning streak against the division rival this season.
Wednesday night was Washington right hander Jordan Zimmermann's first season start against the Braves. With the injury struggles of star pitcher Stephen Strasburg minimizing Washington's production, Zimmermann (5-1) has become the most consistent starter in the Nationals' rotation.
"He's pretty good," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said of Zimmerman. "He's a guy that commands his fast ball. He came after us so good, we couldn't get to him."
By the top of the seventh inning, the 22,460 in attendance at Turner Field only seemed interested in successfully completing the wave around the stadium, as the Braves had only managed to get two men on base by that point of the game.
The game, the third of a four game series, was locked at zero until the top of the fourth inning. Maholm walked Washington outfielder Bryce Harper on a full count, only to have the next batter, shortstop Ian Desmond, bat next and homer to centerfield on a 1-1 count.
Maholm has taken a precipitous drop since starting the season a perfect 3-0. The lefty has now dropped three in a row and is now at .500 (3-3) for the season.
"Obviously, my pitching wasn't terrible, but it wasn't what I wanted," Maholm told the Daily World. "I wasn't happy with walking Bryce because I think I had him 1-2, but it was only two hits and a home run. You get over it, take the positives and move on."
The Nationals (14-14) still are far from their 98-64 marker last year, which gave them the best record in baseball and the National League East division title.
Prior to the game, Atlanta was 5-0 against the Nationals this season, also posting a 9-0 record against them dating back to August. The Braves dropped to 17-10 with the loss.
Atlanta currently holds a 3 1/2-game lead over the Nationals for first place in the NL East divisional race.
The loss is only the third at Turner Field this season, with the last win coming Tuesday.
During Tuesday evening's 8-1 win, Braves pitcher Tim Hudson became the 110th pitcher in Major League Baseball history to reach 200 career wins. Hudson topped off the win with a third inning home run, the third of his career. Hudson is now one of three active pitchers with 200 wins or more, the New York Yankees' Andy Pettitte (248) and Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Roy Halladay (201).
With Hudson now in the 200 Win Club, all eyes will be focused on the Yankees' CC Sabathia, who currently has 195 wins.
The Braves enter May not quite as dominant as they were at the beginning of the season. After a 12-2 start, Atlanta slumped to 2-7 in mid-April before recovering to take the first two of the four game series against the Nationals.
Although Atlanta may be lacking firepower with the absence of Jason Heyward, who is still out after an appendectomy last week, the Braves are still strong with left fielder Justin Upton's current slugging streak.
Upton hit a major league-leading 12 homeruns in the month of April, the second most in MLB history during that span. But 11 of his homers have been solo shots with no man on base. Upton was 1-3 on Tuesday and failed to score a run.
"We just didn't get it going tonight," said Upton. "For the most part he was pounding us with that fast ball all night and we got beat by him."
Zimmerman ended the night eight strikeouts in eight innings as opposed to the struggling Maholm, who managed to throw four strikeouts in eight innings.
Braves closer Luis Avilan took over for Maholm to keep Atlanta in the game, but after two hours and 15 minutes, the save went to Nationals closer Rafael Soriano, his eighth of the season.
After the conclusion of the Braves series with the Nats, the team will play host to the New York Mets, May 3-5. This will be the second series of a 56 game stretch in 59 days for Atlanta, 34 games at home, 22 on the road.