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|If it looks like the normally low-key Jrue Holiday has been having the time of his life in the NBA playoffs – from interacting with fans after big shots to Mike Singletary Jersey , in one instance, mocking an opponent who’d been dunked on – the Pelicans’ guard offers an explanation.”I’m in a really good place. Everything in my life is pretty good – family, basketball, financially,” Holiday began after practice this week, as the Pelicans prepared for a second-round playoff match-up with Golden State.
”I got a bonus this year, so that’s awesome,” Holiday added, drawing some chuckles as he referred to his whopping, five-year, $126 million contract last offseason. ”I mean, yeah. I feel pretty good.”
Once upon a time, Holiday was a young Eastern Conference All-Star guard with Philadelphia who seemed to possess a world of potential. A draft-day trade in 2013 paired him with emerging star big man Anthony Davis in New Orleans, but during the next four years, one thing or another conspired against him.
During his first season with the Pelicans Cody Parkey Jersey , he developed a stress fracture in his lower leg that required surgery, but one of the screws used to repair the fracture became an irritant, forcing additional procedures. That wiped out much of his first two seasons. He returned on minute restrictions in his third season and showed promise, only to have that campaign cut short by a fluky eye injury caused by an inadvertent elbow to the head.
Holiday was finally healthy heading into his fourth season in New Orleans – but his wife, former U.S. Soccer star Lauren Holiday, was not. She was diagnosed with a brain tumor while pregnant with the couple’s first child, and Holiday took an extended leave of absence to attend to family.
Now the 6-foot-4 Holiday looks reinvigorated by a recent convergence of positive trends in his life.
In addition to being content with his family life and career trajectory, he’s also about as healthy as he’s been in half a decade, and his team is in the playoffs for the first time since 2015. Now he can focus purely on winning and being as feisty as it takes to do so.
”I always feel like I’m aggressive, but (playoff) games are a little different where you can key in on a certain team and be able to study them for a long time because you know you have at least four games,” Holiday explained. ”Mentally, just locking in to the matchup or the schemes or whatever it is, brings out a little more intensity.”
Holiday was a big reason the sixth-seeded Pelicans swept third-seeded Portland in the first round of the postseason. He scored 33 points in Game 2 and 41 points in the clinching Game 4. His performances have been dynamic. He’s made big perimeter shots, such as his late 3-pointer in Game 4, and he’s been a strong finisher at the rim. He shot about 57 percent for the series.
Defensively Charley Taylor Jersey , he helped hold Portland All-Star guard Damian Lillard in check and came up with pivotal, late-game steals or blocks.
”I know what type of player he’s been since he’s been here, but I think this has been a great year for him,” Davis said. ”People are really starting to notice.”
Davis and fellow teammates have been particularly amused by the transformation of Holiday’s on-court persona, and won’t say a word to discourage it.
Holiday has rarely been all that animated on the court or much of a trash talker. But against Portland his gesticulations – or his eagerness to sprint into scuffles after a hard foul- were impossible to miss.
”I have no idea where that came from, talking smack to the fans. I’ve never seen it,” Davis said. ”I love it. If he can keep getting 40 for us then I’ll make him mad every game.
On a more serious note, Davis added, ”I think everybody just recognized the type of team that we have and realized that we can be something special, so it just brings a lot out in everybody.”
Veteran guard Rajon Rondo, long known to exchange verbal barbs with opponents, grinned when he recalled Holiday pointing at Jusuf Nurkic after Davis had dunked on the Portland center in Game 3.
”It’s just a different side of him. He’s playing with a lot of rage,” Rondo said. ”He’s overlooked a lot. What he’s doing now, the world’s finally seeing the real Jrue Holiday and I love every minute of it.
”He’s still a smooth player,” Rondo continued. ”But when he has a mentality of attacking and no one can stay in front of him and he can score against anyone David Bakhtiari Jersey , I think that’s when we’re at our best.”
Rookie right-hander Freddy Peralta seems to make history every time he steps on the mound for the Milwaukee Brewers barely weeks into his major league career.
Fittingly enough, too, since he’s about to face a Cincinnati Reds pitching staff — mainly, reliever Michael Lorenzen — that is doing some pretty historic things themselves. Only with their bats and not their arms.
The 22-year-old Peralta is 3-0 with a 1.59 ERA in his first four major league starts, including two in which he has struck out 10 or more and allowed only one hit. He’s the first pitcher in baseball’s live-ball ERA to do that, and the first Brewers pitcher to have two such games in a career.
How good has Peralta been? He has permitted more than two hits in only one of the four starts. In 22 2/3 innings, he has allowed only seven hits and struck out 35.
Peralta is the first major league pitcher since at least 1908 to give up three hits or fewer and strike out at least five in each of his first four career games.
“His stuff looks electric from center field, and you can see that in the swings and takes and called strikeouts,” Brewers outfielder Christian Yelich told reporters after Peralta pitched seven shutout innings of one-hit ball to beat the Kansas City Royals 5-1 on Tuesday. “He’s been great every time he goes out there, and hopefully that continues.”
Peralta is doing it without an overpowering fastball, like so many other young pitchers are today. He’s throwing his four-seam fastball at an average velocity of 91.2 mph, or about what an average starter threw 15 years or so ago.
“He’s got a high spin rate and the ball just kind of jumps at you, even though it’s 92 mph,” Royals manager Ned Yost said.
If the last-place Reds can get to Peralta on Sunday at Great American Ball Park — and no team has yet — they would split a four-game series in which they lost the first two games.
Cincinnati bounced back from a 3-2 deficit Saturday with an eight-run seventh inning powered by a pinch-grand slam from Lorenzen off a Jacobs Barnes fastball and went on to win 12-3 for its 10th victory in 13 games.
“Michael Lorenzen was pretty special,” Reds interim manager Jim Riggleman said.
Pinch-hit grand slams are rare enough. But by a pitcher?
What’s even more remarkable is Lorenzen also homered Friday night during an 8-2 Brewers victory http://www.chicagobearsteamonline.com/jordan-howard-jersey , and he homered in his previous at-bat before that while pinch hitting against the Chicago Cubs on June 24.
“I love playing baseball,” Lorenzen said. “Every day, I look forward to contributing in some form.”
That’s three homers in the last three at-bats for Lorenzen, who’s quickly becoming the National League’s bullpen equivalent of the Angels’ multi-dimensional Shohei Ohtani.
Lorenzen is 1-0 with a 1.93 ERA in 15 games, and he’s 4-for-6 at the plate. He’s the first pitcher with multiple pinch homers in a season since Brooks Kieschnick in 2003 — and he has done it in only a week.
“The guy’s swinging the bat really well, that’s for sure,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “We treat him as a position player. Obviously, we’ve got to make some adjustments … he’s swinging it well.”
Then there’s this: No Reds pitcher had hit a grand slam in 59 years, or since Bob Purkey in 1959, until starter Anthony DeScalfani did it June 23 against the Cubs. Now, Reds pitchers have hit grand slams twice in eight days.
Lorenzen’s homer was more than enough for the Reds to overcome Eric Thames‘ 14th home run against them in the two seasons and his fourth this season — the first three of which were game-winners.
Only two of the Reds’ 15 hits Saturday were for extra bases — Lorenzen’s homer and a Scooter Gennett double — but they were 8-for-16 with runners in scoring position.
Peralta will go up against veteran right-hander Matt Harvey (3-5), who has recently given the Reds a glimpse of his former dominating self with the New York Mets. He has won each of his last two starts, giving up three runs in 12 2/3 innings, after going 0-3 in his previous four starts.
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