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Chris Paul debuts for Thunder, who start 3 point guards in preseason win10/10 04:260

TULSA, Okla. -- Chris Paul, the president of the NBA's players' association, said he isn't very well informed about the league's growing friction with its business partners in China in part because of his focus on the Oklahoma City Thunder's training camp.
"I don't know but so much about it right now," Paul said of the situation, which began with a tweet from Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey in support of the anti-government protesters in Hong Kong. "I'll try to find out what's going on."
Paul is encouraged by the early work of the revamped Thunder, who opened their preseason Tuesday with a 119-104 win over the Dallas Mavericks, who opted to sit young stars Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis on the first night of a back-to-back.
Paul, acquired from the Rockets along with first-round picks for longtime Thunder star Russell Westbrook, was joined by a pair of other point guards in Oklahoma City's starting lineup. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, the centerpiece of the package the LA Clippers sent to the Thunder in the Paul George deal, and Dennis Schroder played alongside Paul as Oklahoma City emphasized ball movement.
The Thunder scored 66 points on 63.4% shooting in the first half, assisting on 15 of 26 baskets, beginning with Paul's feed to center Steven Adams for a surprising corner 3-pointer on the opening possession.
"The spirit was right and the ball was moving," said Paul, who had six points, three rebounds, four assists and five turnovers in 17 minutes before sitting out the second half. "When you practice like that, you always wonder if it's going to translate to the game. For us tonight, it did."
Gilgeous-Alexander, a 21-year-old with star potential, dazzled in his Thunder debut with 24 points on 7-of-12 shooting. Schroder, Oklahoma City's sixth man last season, had 13 points on 5-of-6 shooting and dished out five assists.
"We all have talent in that we can create for each other," Paul said. "It just makes the game easier for you when you have multiple guys that can handle the ball."
Thunder coach Billy Donovan didn't commit to starting the three point guards together on a regular basis, but he liked the look of the lineup.
"All three of those guys are really important and they're drivers of our offense because they're smart, they have a really good feel of how to play and they're unselfish," Donovan said. "They've got to be the catalyst to moving the basketball. Putting them out there, my feeling was to get them comfortable playing with one another, get them playing with a good pace and tempo and speed, and I thought we came out to start the game playing like that."

 

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Rays chase Astros' Justin Verlander early en route to evening ALDS10/10 04:230

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Houston Astros manager AJ Hinch asked ace Justin Verlander to do something he had never done before. It might be a while before he asks him to do it again, not that he has any regrets.
Verlander was chased after 3 2/3 innings in Game 4 of the American League Division Series against the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday. He allowed four runs -- three in the first inning -- and seven hits, including two home runs. The Astros trailed 4-0 when he was pulled from the game after walking Tampa Bay's Ji-Man Choi in the fourth, much to the delight of a raucous, jam-packed Tropicana Field. Verlander threw 84 pitches.
"Obviously not the way you would script it," Verlander said. "It sucks."
The Rays went on to win 4-1 to force a decisive fifth game at Minute Maid Park in Houston on Thursday.
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Can the resourceful Rays really slay the mighty Astros?With the Astros' lead in the series down to 2-1 entering Tuesday, Hinch tabbed Verlander, 36, for the Game 4 start after the Astros' 10-3 loss in Game 3 on Monday. That meant Verlander was starting on three days' rest, something he'd never done on the heels of a full-length start in his illustrious career. Verlander threw seven shutout innings against the Rays in Game 1 on Friday in Houston.
"In the postseason, you ask somebody to do something that's not normal, it's always a little nerve-wracking," Hinch said. "But he felt great, and he made a lot of really good pitches and got a lot of swings and misses."
The Rays jumped on Verlander from the outset Tuesday. Tommy Pham, Tampa Bay's second batter in the game, homered to left field to open the scoring. The Rays tacked on two more runs that first inning, and Verlander needed 32 pitches to escape further damage. According to ESPN Stats & Information, that was the most pitches Verlander had thrown in a first inning since he joined the Astros in 2017.
"Bad slider. Inconsistent control," Verlander said. "I felt like the velocity was there, but the control wasn't and the slider wasn't. Mix that in with a good approach [from the Rays] in the first."
In his final inning, Verlander gave up a solo homer to Willy Adames on a slider that broke into the middle of the plate, waist-high. The walk to Choi was a fitting end to an outing in which Verlander struggled to locate his pitches. Verlander threw strikes on just half of his 50 four-seam fastballs, according to Statcast data.
With his fastball missing the strike zone, the Rays teed off on Verlander's off-speed pitches. The Rays were 6-for-12 against Verlander's off-speed offerings, with two homers, two doubles and seven hard-hit balls. But for all his struggles, Verlander steadfastly refused to point to his short rest as an excuse.
"I didn't know what to expect, and I wasn't taking anything into it," Verlander said. "Not expecting anything. I was expecting to be normal. The low-hanging fruit is to sit there and say this was short rest and that's the reason why. I don't think so. I felt good, body felt good physically. I just didn't execute the way I needed to.
"Really the slider was the worst it's been all year. I needed something to go our way, and when I made mistakes, they really capitalized on them with runners on base. It killed us."
Rays manager Kevin Cash thought the real factor in the quick turnaround from his club's last encounter with Verlander was a heightened familiarity, more so than Verlander's physical state.

"I think the familiarity helps," Cash said. "He's still the best. There's no denying that. But four days, five days later, some of those same pitches maybe replayed a little bit, and we were able to have some quality [at-bats] and hit the ball hard."
Whether the short rest plan played into Verlander's off night, the Astros still have a couple of security blankets to keep them warm on their flight back to Houston: a partisan crowd at their home park and the presence of Game 5 starter Gerrit Cole, who hasn't lost a start since May 22, a string of starts that reached 23 with his win in Game 2.
“很好,”太空人二垒手何塞·阿尔图夫(Jose Altuve)说,要让科尔参加周四的比赛。“像今天一样,把贾斯汀留在那很重要。如果我不得不再做一次,我会把贾斯汀留在那儿,因为他是我们的杰里特男孩。那是我们的比赛方式。我们要回家去,让格里特(Gerrit)走在山丘上,[我​​们将]竭尽所能赢得胜利。”

 

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