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zan is a good example of how he can improve -- couldnt shoot great, slasher and now that guy makes every two-point jump shot he damn near takes. Once yo

NEW YORK -- If the New York Yankees reach the playoffs, theyll long remember this catch by Brett Gardner. Chidobe Awuzie Jersey .Two outs in the ninth inning, bases loaded, one-run lead. Does it get much better?Gardner made a leaping grab at the top of the left-field wall, clutching the ball as he banged into the fence on Justin Smoaks drive for the final out, and the Yankees held off AL East-leading Toronto 7-6 Tuesday night.I knew I was going to be able to catch up to it and get to it, I just didnt know if I was going to run out of room or not, Gardner said.I knew it was going to be close to the wall -- thank goodness it wasnt much higher. Im not too tall and I wasnt going to be able to jump a whole lot higher, he said.A scrambly September game with October implications seesawed to the last swing, and turned at the end in favor of the Yankees. New York won its third in a row and sent the Blue Jays to their fourth loss in five games.At a season-high seven games over .500, the Yankees closed within 4 1/2 games of first place, their smallest deficit since April, and remained 3 1/2 back for the ALs second wild card.The Blue Jays had already scored twice in the ninth off Dellin Betances when they loaded the bases with one out. Blake Parker, the eighth New York pitcher, suddenly became an unlikely closer, and he struck out Kevin Pillar.Smoak was up next -- in August 2015, he became the first Toronto player ever to hit a grand slam in the Bronx.This time, he sliced a deep shot to left.Thought it might have had a chance, Smoak said, later adding, put a good swing on it, barreled it.But Gardner ran back, squared himself on the warning track and jumped high and back into the padding. He held on for the catch, immediately leaped in the air to celebrate and tossed the ball high.I think as the ball went in to my glove, my glove hit the wall. And on a play like that, you want to make sure the ball goes in the glove before you hit the wall, he said.The Yankees rushed out to congratulate him and a few minutes later, a replay of the catch drew another ovation from the fans.The 29-year-old Smoak and 33-year-old Gardner know each other from growing up in South Carolina.Hes an old man, Smoak said, smiling.Tyler Austins two-run homer in the seventh off AL ERA leader Aaron Sanchez put the Yankees ahead 3-2. Pillar lined a two-out, two-run double in the eighth that gave the Blue Jays a 4-3 edge.The Yankees then rallied for four runs in their half for a 7-4 lead, capped by Chase Headleys two-run homer. The drive off Jason Grilli (5-5) left the reliever bent over at the mound in frustration.With the Yankees running out of time to chase a playoff spot, manager Joe Girardi spared no expense with his staff. Chasen Shreve (2-1) wound up with the win and Parker got his first save since 2013 with the Cubs.Betances made it interesting in the ninth, walking the first two batters while working his third straight day. Edwin Encarnacion and Melvin Upton got RBI singles on infield hits to pull Toronto within a run.Encarnacion hit his 37th homer into the second deck for Toronto and tied his career high with 111 RBI. He started the day tied with Angels slugger Albert Pujols for the league lead in RBI.Playing on his 25th birthday and batting ninth, Austin sliced a two-out drive to right-center. His only other homer came on Aug. 13 in his first major league at-bat.Brian McCann also homered for the Yankees.Little did anyone know what was on deck. In a game of timely hits, it was Gardners defensive play that thrilled the Yankees.Sheer joy, Parker said.NY NUMBERSThe Yankees had lost five straight home series to Toronto before winning the first two games in this three-game set. ... Austin became the first Yankees player to homer on his birthday since Alex Rodriguez last year. ... Rookie Gary Sanchez has reached base in 21 straight games.UP NEXTBlue Jays: RHP Marcus Stroman (9-6, 4.58) has allowed eight earned runs in 12 innings over his last two starts.Yankees: RHP Bryan Mitchell was promoted from Triple-A before the game and is likely to make his Yankees debut this year, starting vs. Toronto. He injured a toe in spring training and missed most of this season. Hes 0-3 in stints the past two years with New York. Randy White Jersey . -- Jacksonville wide receiver Cecil Shorts will likely be a game-time decision whether hell play Sunday in the Jaguars home game against the San Diego Chargers. Youth Cowboys Jerseys . Hamelin, who triumphed in the 500 on Saturday, edged out Victor An of Russia by 0.021 seconds to maintain his lead in the World Cup standings. Russias Vladimir Grigorev was third. In the relay, Canada took control six laps from the finish line to beat Russia and the Netherlands. . Perhaps Carroll was so prepared for a break because he believes there is very little the Seattle Seahawks need heading into the off-season. "I dont see anything that we need to add. We just have to get better," Carroll said. NEW YORK -- Giannis Antetokounmpo had just missed a triple-double by two rebounds and two assists for the third time this season when he was asked a question that temporarily tripped him up.What is the most difficult part of getting a triple-double?Hardest part? Uhhhhh, I dont know, Antetokounmpo said, shrugging his shoulders as if he was a 7-year-old asked to explain why he doesnt like a certain brand of cereal.Excuse Antetokounmpo if he makes it sound and look easy. The humble 22-year-old Bucks star carries himself with the curiosity of an innocent kid. Youll often see him looking around his surroundings and asking questions or thinking about how to answer a question like an inquisitive third-grader. Hes soaking everything Jason Kidd and his coaching staff teaches him and that sponge continues to only expand.In his fourth season, Antetokounmpo has taken another gigantic Giannis-like stride forward -- you know, like how he only needs a ridiculous two to three steps to go from halfcourt logo to the rim.The Greek Freak is averaging 22.3 points, 8.9 rebounds, 5.9 assists, 2.0 blocks and 2.0 steals. All are career-highs. During each of his four seasons, Antetokounmpo has improved his averages in just about every one of his statistical categories except for free-throw and 3-point shooting from the season before.While Russell Westbrook has taken the league by storm with his historic triple-double act, Antetokounmpo is quietly putting together the type of season only some legends have had.Since 1973-74, only Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen (last to do it consecutively from 1993-95) have averaged at least 20 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 steals in a season, according to ESPN Stats and Info. And only one other person has ever averaged at least 20 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 blocks in a season -- Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.Heres the truly frightening thing -- Antetokounmpo can actually get even better. This year, the Bucks human Swiss Army Knife was drafted an average of 12th in ESPN fantasy leagues. He certainly will be a top-10 draft pick, if not even a top-six pick next year. After Westbrook, James Harden, Steph Curry, Kevin Durant and Anthony Davis, you can make an argument for drafting Antetokounmpo in the same breath with the likes of Karl-Anthony Towns, LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard and DeMarcus Cousins.Consider this: as good as Antetokounmpo is now, think about when his mind, instincts and experience finally catches up to those Go-Go Gadget arms and things actually start to slow down even more for him? Remember, he is still learning how to play point guard/point forward/point center under Kidd. Hes only been in this role since February and hasnt even played point for an entire season.What happens when he actually can shoot with the confidence of an All-Star or even add a back-to-the-basket go-to-move? And how scary will it be when he learns how to win consistently and he craves winning the way his coach did as a player?Hes a lot like Magic Johnson used to be as far as putting the ball on the floor, his size, his length, his athleticism, Toronto coach Dwane Casey recently said according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Hes a lot like Magic in that he came into the league not being able to shoot the ball.NBA general managers already rate Antetokounmpo as the NBAs best international player and second only to LeBron James in versatility, according to NBA.coms annual survey. If he is able to keep this up for an entire season, he would be the only player to average 20 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 blocks and 2 steals in a season.Hes doing all this despite still very much learning the angles and different spots on the floor all while playing five different positions on certain nights.On one recent night against the San Antonio Spurs, Antetokounmpo started the game guarding Pau Gasol before later moving onto Leonard. He fought foul trouble with five fouls but still managed 22 points and 11 rebounds in 29 minutes in a 97-96 loss to the Spurs.In another game against Toronto, Antetokounmpo guarded big men like 7-foot Lucas Nogueira and 6-foot-9 Patrick Patterson to wing men like the 6-foot-7 Terrence Ross and even 6-foot-7 DeMar DeRozan at times. Ryan Switzer Jersey. While it may not seem like it with the stat-sheet stuffing numbers he puts up, Antetokounmpo is still very much learning how to be the kind of playmaking point guard that Kidd wants. And that is with him already getting better from last season.Hes made improvements in all areas, said one Bucks assistant coach. When you talk about how much better he has gotten, he really has put in a lot of time. His ballhandling, decision-making is better, hes a better screener than he was before. His weak-side defense, he has got to be one of the better guys in the league.If you look at his length... he is putting his arms out and one time he was damn near virtually touching the ballhandler and his own guy in the corner. There are definitely things he can continue to improve upon... He is a foreigner so language-wise, he is speaking more confidently with basketball communication being very important. And physically, he has improved on his body and strength.Shooting, of course, is the next logical step forward for Antetokounmpo. The Greek star is shooting a career-high 52.4 percent but just 23.6 percent from behind the arc. As Jabari Parker continues to improve, Antetokounmpo should continue to see plenty of scoring opportunities in theory.Right now, Im working every day and my main focus is to shoot without hesitating, Antetokounmpo said after making 2-of-5 3-pointers and having 23 points, 8 rebounds, 8 assists, 4 steals and 2 blocks against the Nets at the start of the month. That is my main focus right now, if it goes in or goes out, just shoot without hesitation... just let it fly.Antetokounmpo notes how difficult it can be for a 7-footer with long arms to catch and shoot. The Bucks wing man points to near his waist and explains how catching the ball there and bringing it up above his chest smoothly can be arduous.Concentrate on my follow through and keep the ball high because tall people, it is hard for us to shoot, Antetokounmpo explains. Because from here (points to near waist) when you get the ball to here (points above chest), it is a long way. I am just trying that when I get the ball here to just go up with it. Confidence is a big part of shooting.Two things the Bucks are seeing opposing teams do against Antetokounmpo is either back way off him or get physical with him. Antetokounmpo is recognizing how to deal with this and with time, he could start hurting teams in the post. He is working on a mid-range and post game and his length really could be deadly down in the paint with a go-to post move.The jump shot part, Id say he is getting more confident, the Bucks assistant said. Mechanically, he has made improvements and he is still making improvements. DeRozan is a good example of how he can improve -- couldnt shoot great, slasher and now that guy makes every two-point jump shot he damn near takes. Once you figure it out, it kind of clicks.Antetokounmpo said after a win in Brooklyn this month that Dirk Nowitzkis shooting coach, Holger Geschwindner, has offered to work with the Greek Freak in the offseason in Germany. He said he hopes he can make the trip from Greece to Germany if schedules permit.Antetokounmpo is shooting just 18.2 percent on attempts that are 10-to-16 feet from the basket, according to Pro Basketball Reference. Visions of Antetokounmpo adding the Dirk one-legged turnaround fadeaway jumper to his raw but growing arsenal is a nightmare for opponents already terrorized by the Greek Freak.Its a smart thing on his part, Casey told the Journal Sentinel of Kidd moving Antetokounmpo to point. If I had a young kid like that and I knew that was his position, why not do it now? Youre going to have to live with some of the bad -- I know hes had 13 turnovers in a couple games (recently).But I promise you the payoff is going to be much better than it is now. Its sort of like what we did with DeRozan here earlier. You go through growing pains. The dividends will pay off down the road. 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