What is wrong with Gerrit Cole? Plus, the Pelicans continue to defy the odds – CBSSports.com

Happy Wednesday, everyone! Hope you’re well.Let’s get right to it. Good morning to everyone but especially to… JIMMY BUTLER AND THE MIAMI HEAT…Last night, Jimmy Butler did something no Heat player has ever done in a playoff game. In fact, it’s something only one other player in NBA history — Jamal Murray — has done in a playoff game:45 points5 rebounds5 assists0 turnoversAs it turned out, the Heat needed it all to hold off the Hawks, 115-105, and take a 2-0 series lead. Atlanta, which trailed by 16 early in the fourth quarter, got within three late. But Butler went on a personal 7-0 scoring run to put the game to bed. Butler once again found a new level in a playoff setting, writes our NBA expert Brad Botkin:Botkin: “Every time the Hawks — who didn’t play well but managed to hang around long enough to have a chance late — made a push, Butler had the answer. … Interesting note: Butler has been a horrendous 3-point shooter during the regular season in his time with the Heat (24 percent in his first two seasons and 23 percent this year), but he’s been much better in the playoffs. He shot 35 percent from deep in the bubble and so far this postseason he’s 5-for-9 from 3. Butler knocked down four of his seven 3s on Tuesday and, generally speaking, his aggression as a shooter has consistently gone up in the postseason with Miami.”As for Atlanta’s star, Trae Young struggled. It wasn’t nearly the 8 points on 1-for-12 shooting disaster from Game 1, but Young’s 25 points in Game 2 were overshadowed by 10 turnovers and 2-for-10 shooting from deep. He’ll have to turn things around for Atlanta to have a chance…. AND ALSO A GOOD MORNING TO THE NEW ORLEANS PELICANS Getty Images The Pelicans could have folded when they started the season 1-12. Or at any point during the Zion Williamson injury drama. Or when they trailed the Clippers by double digits in the play-in tournament with a playoff berth on the line. Or last night, when the Suns — the league’s best team — took the lead in the fourth quarter. But they never folded in any of those situations, and because of that, they’ve tied their series against the playoff’s top overall seed after beating Phoenix, 125-114.Brandon Ingram took over late and finished with 37 points (26 in the second half), 11 rebounds and nine assists.CJ McCollum chipped in 23 points, eight rebounds and nine assists.New Orleans shot a scintillating 57% (17-for-30) from 3 and outrebounded Phoenix 43-33.Did the Pelicans catch a break when Devin Booker suffered hamstring tightness in the third quarter and couldn’t return? Yes. (More on that in a bit). But give credit where credit is due. Ingram is a bonafide star, and he played like one. After looking completely overwhelmed early in Game 1, the Pelicans started Game 2 much stronger on both ends.The Pelicans weren’t given much of a chance to do anything in this series. We should have known they don’t mind having the odds stacked against them. They proved it again last night. Honorable mentionsThe Grizzlies bounced back from a Game 1 loss to demolish the Timberwolves, 124-96. Ja Morant starred.Texas brought in big-name transfer wide receiver Agiye Hall.Notre Dame vaulted to No. 1 in the 2023 football recruiting class rankings thanks to wide receiver Braylon James’ commitment. And not such a good morning for… USATSI DEVIN BOOKER AND THE PHOENIX SUNSAt halftime last night, Devin Booker looked to be on his way to an all-time playoff performance. He had 31 points; the rest of his team had 30. He had the entire offensive repertoire working.Then came a scoreless third quarter, the hamstring tightness, the trip back to the locker room and a seat on the bench for the rest of the night. In the regular season, Booker’s hamstring woes cost him nearly three weeks of playing time.It’s a cruel reminder of how things can change in an instant: from unstoppable scorer to betrayed by his own body. The Suns dominated the regular season and entered the playoffs as title favorites thanks in large part to Booker, a surefire All-NBA selection whose name will appear on plenty of MVP ballots. If Phoenix had lost last night’s game with a healthy Booker, it would have been fine. Now the Suns are hoping last night’s losing effort didn’t also include losing their superstar guard for the foreseeable future. … AND ALSO NOT SUCH A GOOD MORNING FOR GERRIT COLE Getty Images Gerrit Cole’s bad start to the 2022 season got worse last night. The Yankees ace lasted just 1 2/3 innings in his start against the Tigers, though New York’s bullpen came to the rescue in a 4-2 win.It was the shortest start of Cole’s career.He surrendered five walks, tying a career high.His four walks in the second inning were his most ever in an inning.He threw just 54 percent of his pitches for strikes.Cole’s ERA this season is now up to 6.35, and perhaps we can trace his struggles back to June 21, 2021, when MLB started really cracking down on pitchers using foreign substances (remember, Cole sidestepped a question regarding his use of those substances.) Here are his numbers with the Yankees before and after that date:Before: 26 starts, 2.55 ERA, 0.90 WHIP, 7.3 strikeout-to-walk ratioAfter: 19 starts, 4.37 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 3.8 strikeout-to-walk ratioCole’s slow start could be just a blip. If it’s more than that, though, it’s bad news for the Yankees and their $324-million man.  Not so honorable mentionsThe Panthers didn’t have a great Tuesday: Offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo said — and then walked back — that Sam Darnold will be the team’s starting quarterback. The team also abandoned its plans to build a new team headquarters.Luka Doncic could return for Game 3 or Game 4

Leave a Reply