Saints Rule Out RB Kamara, TE Cook vs. Bears – The New Orleans Saints’ four-game win streak will be put to a serious test Sunday at Chicago. The team has ruled out running back Alvin Kamara and tight end Jared Cook because of injuries. Kamara (ankle, knee) and Cook (ankle) rank second and third on the team in passing targets behind wide receiver Michael Thomas and are tied for second with two touchdowns apiece. But neither practiced this week after being injured during Sunday’s game at Jacksonville. Replacing Kamara will be veteran backup Latavius Murray, who was a No. 1 back in both Oakland and Minnesota. Veteran tight end Josh Hill will be among those filling in for Cook. Kamara, who leads the Saints with 649 yards from scrimmage, first showed up on the injury report on Oct. 10 with an ankle injury. But he played through it before also “tweaking” his knee early against the Jaguars, according to coach Sean Payton. The running back finished the game but was still feeling the effects this week. Cook, who also joined the Saints this year in free agency, will be missed at a time when he was finally starting to find a groove. Over the past two weeks, he caught a total of seven passes for 78 yards with his first two touchdowns of the season. The Saints ruled out quarterback Drew Brees for the fifth straight game with his thumb injury — though he is on the mend after starting to throw a regulation-sized football again last week. They also ruled out wide receiver Tre’Quan Smith (ankle) and defensive end Trey Hendrickson (neck).
UPDATE: ‘Best-case scenario’ On Mahomes’ MRI – Patrick Mahomes did dislocate his kneecap during Thursday night’s win over the Denver Broncos, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport and James Palmer have reported. That is reportedly what was discovered after the Kansas City Chiefs‘ quarterback underwent an MRI on Friday. According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the MRI turned out to be a “best case scenario” for the Chiefs. Rapoport added that Mahomes did not suffer “significant additional damage” after sustaining the injury on a quarterback sneak during the first half of Thursday night’s game. Rapoport, who earlier in the day reported that Mahomes would likely miss “at least three weeks” with his knee injury, will seek additional opinions on his injury. The current plan, according to Rapoport, is for Mahomes to return this season “after a brief absence.” The injury appeared to be much more significant after Mahomes laid on the ground in obvious pain after successfully executing a quarterback sneak during the first half. Optimism quickly rose, however, after Mahomes was able to walk off the field with assistance from the Chiefs’ medical staff. He was also able to exit the field under his own power.
Sabathia’s Career Done As Yankees Add Heller – The New York Yankees officially removed CC Sabathia from the roster for the American League Championship Series on Friday, replacing him with right-handed reliever Ben Heller. Sabathia would not be eligible to return should the Yankees get to the World Series, so the 39-year-old left-hander has made his final appearance in pinstripes. Sabathia’s knee buckled and his shoulder seemed to give out as he tried to get out of a bases-loaded jam in the eighth inning of the Houston Astros‘ 8-3 win in Game 4 of the ALCS Thursday night. He walked off the mound toward second, spoke with head athletic trainer Steve Donohue and tried a warmup toss, hoping somehow to push through, but he had to leave. The Yankees said Sabathia suffered a subluxation — or partial dislocation — of his left shoulder joint. Sabathia, who along with outfielder Brett Gardner is one of the two remaining members of the 2009 World Series championship team, limped off the field with tears in his eyes. He had announced that he was retiring after the season. A six-time All-Star and the 2007 AL Cy Young Award winner with Cleveland, Sabathia finished with a 251-161 regular-season record with 3,093 strikeouts. He had made four trips to the injured list this year due to his balky right knee. With their season on the line and Houston holding a commanding 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series, the Yankees will have lefty James Paxton versus Astros ace Justin Verlander on the mound for a do-or-die Game 5. Paxton told ESPN that Sabathia would be his inspiration when he takes the mound Friday. Heller had a 1.23 ERA and nine strikeouts in 7 1/3 innings for the Yankees this season after returning from Tommy John surgery.
Zion (knee) Expected To Miss Weeks – New Orleans Pelicans rookie Zion Williamson has avoided a severe injury to his right knee but is expected to miss a period of weeks to start the regular season, sources told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski on Friday. Williamson did not travel with the team to New York for Friday’s preseason game against the Knicks and instead stayed back in New Orleans for further testing. The injury puts a damper on what had been an excellent preseason for the No. 1 overall pick. Williamson was averaging 23.3 points and 6.5 rebounds while shooting 71.4% in the Pelicans’ first four preseason games and averaging 27.3 minutes. Now New Orleans heads into the season with its star rookie on the sideline. The Pelicans figure to be cautious regarding Williamson’s return, but the team is confident he will make a full recovery. The 6-foot-7, 284-pound Williamson missed time in summer league after he banged his left knee in a collision with another player. After just eight minutes, the Pelicans shut Williamson down for the summer, although they said they were just being overly cautious. Without Williamson on the floor, the Pelicans will likely turn to another rookie — albeit a much older one — to fill his minutes. Nicolo Melli, a 28-year-old Italian player, came to New Orleans this summer after a professional career that started in 2007 overseas. He has played as Williamson’s backup this preseason and has averaged 8.8 points and 6.0 rebounds in 17.0 minutes per game. His rebounding average is second on the team to Williamson’s through four preseason games. The injury could also open up time for the Pelicans to play Kenrich Williams at power forward. Williams is third on the team with 4.8 rebounds per game in the preseason. It’s also possible the Pelicans could play Brandon Ingram at the 4 spot in spurts. New Orleans has Derrick Favors slated to start at center, with Jahlil Okafor and Jaxson Hayes backing him up.
- Kansas City Chiefs 30 – Denver Broncos 6
Highlights: The Kansas City Chiefs rediscovered their mojo but lost their maestro. The Chiefs rallied around their fallen superstar and snapped a two-game skid with a 30-6 thrashing of the Denver Broncos on Thursday night after reigning MVP Patrick Mahomes dislocated his right knee in a pileup near the goal line in the first half. “I’ve never seen anything like that on the field before,” Denver defensive end Shelby Harris said. “His knee was literally all the way to the side, his kneecap was. I wish him the best. We definitely need him in the league, he’s definitely a big attraction in the league. “You never want to see anyone get hurt, especially like that. I hope everything is good and I hope he has a speedy recovery.” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said after the game that didn’t know how serious Mahomes’ injury was, but added that, “We’re good with whatever direction this thing goes.” As players milled about nervously, the Chiefs’ medical personnel appeared to pop Mahomes’ right knee back in place before he was helped from the field and taken into the locker room. Backup Matt Moore threw a 57-yard touchdown pass to Tyreek Hill and the Chiefs (5-2) collected nine sacks, gave up a season-low 71 yards rushing and beat the Broncos (2-5) for the eighth straight time. His balky left ankle heavily taped, Mahomes completed 10 of 11 passes for 76 yards and a touchdown, before getting injured on a successful sneak on fourth-and-inches at the Denver 5 early in the second quarter. Before he got hurt, Mahomes became the fastest player in NFL history to throw for 7,500 yards, in just his 25th game. Mahomes, who has 15 TDs and one interception this season, didn’t speak with reporters after the game but he did lead the team’s “breakdown,” in the winning locker room, praising Moore, who completed 10 of 19 passes for 117 yards, and the defense. The Broncos had won two straight and were aiming to turn the AFC West upside down by handling the Chiefs their third straight loss. But the Chiefs, who were 24th in the league with just 11 sacks coming in, sacked Joe Flacco a career-high eight times and held Denver’s running back duo in check after allowing an average of 190 over their previous four games. When Flacco did stay upright to deliver deep passes, they fell incomplete. Rookie tight end Noah Fant dropped three passes that would have totaled more than 100 yards, and Denver converted just one of 13 third downs. Flacco, who was sacked five times and knocked down eight more times in 15 first-half drop-backs, was sack-stripped by linebacker Anthony Hutchins on the next series and linebacker Reggie Ragland scooped up the loose ball at the 5 and rumbled into the end zone for a 20-6 halftime lead. UPDATE: Citing sources, Terez Paylor, of The Athletic, said that Mahomes has a dislocated knee but it doesn’t look like the knee is fractured. Paylor also reports an MRI will come Friday. Ian Rapoport, of the NFL Network, said Friday morning that Mahomes will likely be sidelined three weeks.
Chicago Bulls 111 – Atlanta Hawks 93
Highlights: Bulls head coach Jim Boylen wanted to treat this preseason finale against the Hawks like a dress rehearsal for the regular season, and he ran normal rotations for the first three quarters. After a sluggish start, the Bulls found their groove as the game went along and hammered a Hawks squad that played last night in New York, 111-93. Zach LaVine finished off a ridiculous preseason with another scorching-hot performance, going for 23 points in 25 minutes on 8-of-11 shooting and 3-of-6 from 3-point land. For all the hubbub about him taking mid-range shots, he took just one 2-pointer from outside the paint (barely), which he made. He finishes the preseason shooting 59.2% from the field and 56.0% from 3, with 46.2% of his shots coming from beyond the arc. While LaVine was incredible again, Coby White stole the show in the second half as the Bulls blew the game wide open. White poured in a game-high 29 points on 10-of-14 shooting and 6-of-8 on 3-pointers. The rookie buried several heat-check treys in the second half to really get the crowd going. Sure, he didn’t record a single assist and barely passed the ball (this is a theme), but it’s hard to complain when a guy is making everything and is a plus-33 on the night. He’s obviously a work in progress, but he’s a whole lot of fun. While White’s long-range shooting was the most notable part of his night, he also threw down a massive dunk in transition. Kris Dunn may have been awful offensively again (0 points on 0-of-4 shooting), but he was a menace defensively, racking up three steals and numerous other deflections. Dunn hounded Trae Young after Young gave him the business last season, so clearly the Bulls guard took it personal. If Dunn can bring that type of defensive effort every night, he can make an impact in this bench role despite his offensive struggles. The 1-2 punch of White and Dunn off the bench could be dynamic with the different skill sets they bring to the table. Wendell Carter Jr. also got some minutes at center with the second unit (Dunn-White-Arch/Porter-Young-Carter) after looking slow and bad to begin the game with the starters. Carter tweaked his left thumb earlier Thursday and is kind of a mess offensively right now, especially when he’s not dunking the ball, but he found his legs on the defensive end in his second stint. He blocked three shots in 22 minutes. The Bulls also got 15 points from Otto Porter Jr. and 11 from Luke Kornet, who caught fire in the second half after an ugly start. The Bulls got up 46 triples for the game, continuing their preseason trend. While they “only” made 15 of those, the fact they got up that many was a good sign, especially considering they were mostly quality looks. The Bulls did a nice job generating good shots from beyond the arc, rather than just jacking up garbage. If there’s one disappointment from this game, it was Lauri Markkanen. While he crashed the glass hard and snared 11 rebounds, he had a bad offensive night, scoring just four points on 2-of-8 shooting while missing all six of his 3-point attempts. Poor jump-shooting nights will happen, but it would be nice to see him a bit more involved offensively and not just floating behind the 3-point line, which we saw too much of in these preseason games.
- Miami Heat 107 – Orlando Magic 98
- Atlanta Hawks 93 – Chicago Bulls 111 (See Chicago Sports News)
- Minnesota Timberwolves 96 – Milwaukee Bucks 118
- Portland Trail Blazers 104 – Denver Nuggets 110
- Dallas Mavericks 102 – Los Angeles Clippers 87