LeBron, Carmelo, Wade and Paul to host tour

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LeBron, Carmelo, Wade and Paul to host tour

From Comcast SportsNet

LeBron James, Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade and Carmelo Anthony are going homeand bringing friends with them.

With no end to the NBA lockout in sight, the All-Star group is set to lead a four-game Homecoming Tour, starting with a matchup in James hometown of Akron, Ohio on Dec. 1, followed by a Dec. 4 game in New Orleans, a Dec. 7 game in Chicago and culminating with a Dec. 10 contest in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

James, Paul, Wade and Anthony are committed to play in all four games of the tour, which was announced early Monday. Proceeds from the tourwhich will include events such as food drives, educational outreach programs and clinics in each citywill benefit the four headlining players charitable foundations, and tour sponsor Google Plus will stream each game live.

Itll be very neat, Wade told The Associated Press. First of all, this is something we talked about doing a long time ago as players. To have an opportunity to go to these different cities that were from, to bring basketball to them at a high level and also have a charitable component in each city and to be with the guys, itll be cool. Its something were looking forward to.

Tickets for the first three games go on sale Tuesday. Tickets for the East Rutherford game will be on sale Wednesday.

The rosters for the four games will likely change considerably in each city. James will play a significant role in organizing the Akron game, as will Paul in New Orleans, Wade in Chicago and Anthony at East Rutherford.

Chris Boshwho, along with James and Wade, makes up the so-called Big 3 with the Miami Heat, is expected to play in all four games. Bosh, along with James, Wade, the New Orleans guard Paul, the New York Knicks forward Anthony, Heat forward Udonis Haslem and others have been part of a rigorous training camp in Oregon for players represented by Creative Artists Agency since late last week.

Im sore, Wade said from Oregon. But thats why we set it up this way. We want to get into work mode. When we get into the tour, we want to play. We want to be equipped to do that. We dont want to just run up and down the court and jack up shots. We want to get into the things we need to do when it comes to strength, defense, all those things you usually do in training camp. So were getting into that mindset.

Theres been no shortage of exhibitions featuring NBA players during the lockout, which is now in its 21st week and has already led to the cancellation of more than 300 gamesroughly one-quarter of a full season. Talks broke off last week after players declined an offer that the NBA said would have raised salaries considerably, which apparently wasnt enough to convince player reps that it was the right deal.

The principals involved in this say the tour will be different from most offseason exhibitions in many ways, notably the extensive charitable aspects.

I am so excited to have this opportunity to participate in this tour, Anthony said in a press release. To couple two of the things I love to do play basketball and give backis special. This is just the beginning of a movement to facilitate change in our communities and I am happy to be a part of a group of guys willing to lead the charge.

Events begin Nov. 29 in New York with a court dedication and food drive, before the group moves to Akron for events the following day that include a Wheels for Education programsomething James is extensively involved with in an effort to help keep kids from dropping out of high schooland a basketball clinic at the Boys & Girls Club bearing the two-time NBA MVPs name.

I am really proud of the work were doing in Akron and know what this tour means for the community, James said.

Paul will host an education-themed event and a clinic in New Orleans on Dec. 2, in advance of the game there two nights later. Wade hosts two events for charity in Chicago on Dec. 6, and another clinic is planned for New York on Dec. 9.

Being able to play the game I love alongside my friends as well as raising money for charity is a win-win situation, Paul said.

Wade said another element hes looking forward to is simply being around NBA players on a full-time basis again, if only for a couple of weeks. While he remains hopeful that much of the season can be saved, hes also not necessarily optimistic that hell be back in a Heat uniform again and trying for another NBA finals trip anytime soon.

Were approaching it as basketball, Wade said. Were not doing it so people dont forget our names. Were really doing this to continue to make an impact in the communities that we go to and also to show that we love this game, were going to continue to play it and that this is something we all decided to do together. So thats what makes this special.

Despite rough ending, Cotton's return start from minors is solid

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Despite rough ending, Cotton's return start from minors is solid

NEW YORK — Keep peeling away the layers of Jharel Cotton’s start Saturday, and there are several different ways to view it.

The A’s rookie pitched into the sixth inning despite enduring big-time command issues and giving up a run in the first.

He took a no-hitter into the sixth despite not having the feel for his best pitch, the changeup.

He was on the verge of completing six mostly dominant innings before losing a handle on things in the sixth, allowing a two-out rally that culminated with Matt Holliday’s two-run homer. That blast wound up being the difference in Oakland’s 3-2 loss to the Yankees.

It was an eventful 5 2/3-inning outing for Cotton in his return from the minors. He admitted he was very aware he had a no-hitter going, though it also must have registered that with his pitch count at 88 entering the sixth, he wasn’t going to get a chance to complete history.

“I wanted to just go out there and get (through) the sixth inning with no hits,” Cotton said. “I guess I thought about it too much and it just bit me.”

Taking the mound for his first big league start since being optioned to Triple-A on May 11, Cotton was also making his first start at Yankee Stadium. He couldn’t find the strike zone in the first, allowing a walk, a hit batsman and a wild pitch that led to Starlin Castro’s sacrifice fly and an early lead for New York.

But then he settled down and found a groove, retiring 15 out of 16 hitters for a stretch from the first all the way until the sixth. That was all the more impressive given that Cotton did not have the effective changeup that’s usually the centerpiece to his game plan.

Catcher Josh Phegley said he was encouraged by Cotton’s effort in his first start back from Triple-A.

“He was kind of sporadic at the beginning, so i was just calling a lot of cutters because that was our strike pitch,” Phegley said. “You’d like to have the changeup because it’s one of the better ones I’ve seen. But he’s got the stuff to do without one of his pitches and still compete and put us in a good position.”

The game turned when Cotton couldn’t slam the door in the sixth after retiring the first two hitters. He walked Gary Sanchez and then caught too much plate with a 1-0 cutter to Holliday, who signed a one-year $13 million contract with New York in the offseason. He drilled a two-run homer to left-center, and Cotton was lifted after Castro singled on his next batter.

“I didn’t want to walk that guy,” Cotton said. “You don’t wanna put guys on base with free passes and I did that, and it came back to haunt me.”

With Cotton’s pitch count crossing 100 in the sixth, A’s manager Bob Melvin said he had no second thoughts about not going to his bullpen earlier. Cotton was charged with three runs on just two hits with three walks and five strikeouts over 5 2/3 innings.

“I was fine with him to get through the inning. That probably would have been it,” Melvin said. “You don’t take a guy out just because he’s got 100 pitches. He was pitching well.”

Cotton will be an important factor for the A’s moving forward given the injuries to starters Jesse Hahn and Kendall Graveman, with the former going on the 10-day disabled list Saturday and the latter expected to join him in the next day or two.

Suns forward: Durant joining Warriors made him easier to guard

Suns forward: Durant joining Warriors made him easier to guard

Jared Dudley and Kevin Durant were part of the same 2007 Draft Class.

Ever since then, Durant has been the toughest player for Dudley to guard.

The 10-year veteran acknowledged that defending Durant during the 2014 Western Conference Semifinals was his hardest assignment while speaking on The Ryen Russillo Show on ESPN Radio on Thursday.

"My worst time was going against Durant in the playoffs when I played for the Clippers and he was on OKC, and that was my matchup. And him coming down on the transition, and I'm thinking 'I know he can shoot the ball here and I can't touch him.' I just remember him crossing over and he takes one step from half court and dunks it. He's such a tough matchup because in the NBA, you can really get physical with guys, especially stars. So he shoots 90 (percent) from free throw, he can shoot the ball from three, so for me, he's always been my toughest matchup," Dudley said.

Dudley also discussed how it has become easier to defend Durant since he left Oklahoma City for Golden State.

"It actually made it easier, somewhat, him going to the Warriors because they have Klay (Thompson) and Steph (Curry) and he doesn't have that killer instinct, but overall, it's impossible," Dudley concluded.