Cubs

After tough loss, Bulls eager for Knicks rematch

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After tough loss, Bulls eager for Knicks rematch

What makes the loss so tough? Joakim Noah asked, repeating the question that was asked of him following Sundays overtime defeat in New York. We beat ourselves tonight, so its upsetting.

It was a lot of mental mistakes. A lot of mental mistakes and just, you play hard and you know you want to win. You do all the right things and if losing didnt hurt, then winning wouldnt be so rewarding, so its definitely a game thats a tough pill to swallow, but weve got to bounce back, he told CSNChicago.com. You definitely dont want to give them confidence, but it is what it is. Were playing this team again on Tuesday and were excited about that.

Indeed, the Bulls have a chance to avenge their Easter loss at Madison Square Garden on their own turf and while they could be without reigning league MVP Derrick Rosethe All-Star point guard suffered a right ankle sprain in the second quarter Sunday, his first game back in the lineup after missing 12 consecutive contests with a strained right grointhey relish the rematch.

You know what? We just want to play them again on Tuesday. Were still in good shape. We still control our own destiny. We dont need to get down about the loss. Theres some stuff weve got to fix and weve got to learn from. We make some free throws, which we normally make, its a totally different game, were getting different questions. Its a whole new world. They made a couple tough shots. We missed some free throws. Theres obviously a couple plays wed love to have back. Were not going to hang our heads, man. We play them again on Tuesday and were going to go get them, said sharpshooter Kyle Korver.

Its not hard. We get to play them again. Its great. We get to play them again at home on Tuesday. Im sure were going to watch a whole lot of film tomorrow, were going to talk about a lot of things. This is a great opportunity, being that its a team that we could play. We get them twice in a row, how itll be in the playoffs. Youre going to play teams in a row. It could be this team. This is a really great thing. You dont want to just blow the team out and come out flat. They have our attention obviously. Theyre a great team. They have a lot of firepower, but well be ready to go on Tuesday. Im not worried about it at all.

Still, Sundays losstheir third already in Aprilis the type of defeat that sticks with a team, especially as they try to work Rose and Hamilton into the lineup after the starting backcourt duo missed extensive time with injuries. Rotation aside, after climbing back out of a huge hole to start the game and watching Knicks superstar Carmelo Anthony send the game into overtime, then win it in the extra session as part of his 43-point performance, the Bulls feel like they let one slip out of their grasp.

You just feel like we could have won that game in so many different ways. What if? You always ask yourself what if because you normally close games out the right way, making foul shots. The last couple plays really bother you, when you feel like you gave up a three and you know you could have fouled or you could have got a little closer and its tough. The way we fought back from 20-something points and they took the lead, and had good momentum. Its rough, Taj Gibson told CSNChicago.com.

Its tough because anything can happen. One thing about this league, nothing comes easy. Every game is different and we have to learn from this game, and build on it.

Added All-Star Luol Deng: We felt like we had the game. We felt like we had it.

The fact that the Bulls were so horrific in the early going Sunday, while an extreme case, isnt exactly a surprise. This is a squad that has specialized in the art of comebacks all season, but this deep into the campaign, its not something they want to hang their hat on.

The Bulls have to come out with a sense of urgency. This team is fighting for a playoff spot and even though were already in the playoffs, we just cant come out sluggish, said Rose. Theyve always been a team that plays hard, but now, Melos in a groove, where hes been hitting a lot of tough shots and they do a great job of finding him.

Echoed Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau, about his teams habit of slow starts specifically: Its a concern. Its a big concern.

Perhaps even more significantly than the loss alone is the fact that the Knicks, currently seventh in the Eastern Conferencefree-falling Philadelphia, which has the same record, entered Tuesday in eighth placestand a good chance of being the Bulls first-round opponent.

Theres a good chance that were going to play this team in the first round and you dont want to give them confidence. You dont want to give them any kind of an edge or any kind of anything, so with that being said, I wish we could have finished this game out better, but I think there was a lot to learn from it and we understand that weve had guys out, and were kind of getting back in the groove. But at the same time, we needed to win this, said Korver.

Theyre a team thats dangerous, man. Youre going to have to help and youre going to have to rotate, but at the same time, you cant give up those threes.

Chimed in Rose: on the potential opening-round matchup: Its just going to be fun. Theyre a good team, where they fight throughout the whole game and if we do play them, itll be a fun series.

Entertaining, sure. But being that Roses definition of fun is winning, that series would only meet his expectations if the Bulls can rectify what currently ails them.

Breaking down where Cubs can turn NLCS around and beat L.A.

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Breaking down where Cubs can turn NLCS around and beat L.A.

“Sometimes, you got to lay your marbles out there,” Jon Lester said Sunday night inside Dodger Stadium’s visiting clubhouse, before the Cubs flew home from Los Angeles down 0-2 in the National League Championship Series. “And you get beat.”

It will be extremely difficult for the Cubs to win four of the next five games against the Dodgers, starting Tuesday night at Wrigley Field. But the Cubs had the, uh, marbles to win last year’s World Series and have developed the muscle memory from winning six playoff rounds and playing in 33 postseason games since October 2015.

There is a cross section left of the 2015 team that beat the Pittsburgh Pirates and silenced PNC Park’s blackout crowd in a sudden-death wild-card game. While 2016 is seen in hindsight as a year of destiny, those Cubs still had to kill the myths about the even-year San Francisco Giants, survive a 21-inning scoreless streak against the Dodgers and win Games 5, 6, 7 against the Cleveland Indians under enormous stress.

There is at least a baseline of experience to draw from and the sense that the Cubs won’t panic and beat themselves, the way the Washington Nationals broke down in the NL Division Series.

· Remember the Cubs pointed to how their rotation set up as soon as Cleveland took a 3-1 lead in last year’s World Series: Lester, Jake Arrieta and Kyle Hendricks would each give them a chance to win that night. The Dodgers will now have to deal with last year’s major-league ERA leader (Hendricks) in Game 3 and a Cy Young Award winner (Arrieta) on Wednesday night in Game 4.

“Obviously, we know we need to get wins at this point,” Hendricks said. “But approaching it as a must-win is a little extreme. We've just got to go out there and play our brand of baseball.

“Since we accomplished that, we know we just have to take it game by game. Even being down 3-1 (in the World Series), we worry about the next game. In that situation, we didn’t think we had to win three in a row or anything like that. We just came to the ballpark the next day and worried about what we had to do that day.”

· The history lessons only go so far when the Dodgers can line up Yu Darvish as their Game 3 starter instead of, say, Josh Tomlin. There is also a huge difference between facing a worn-down Cleveland staff in late October/early November and a rested Dodger team that clinched a division title on Sept. 22 and swept the Arizona Diamondbacks in the first round. Joe Blanton and Pedro Baez aren’t walking through that bullpen door, either.

“We’ve done it before. We’ve been there before,” shortstop Addison Russell said. “But this year’s a new year. That’s a different ballclub. We’re definitely going to have to bring it.”

· Outside of Kenley Jansen, can you name anyone else in the Los Angeles bullpen off the top of your head? No doubt, the Dodger relievers have been awesome in Games 1 and 2 combined: Eight scoreless innings, zero hits, zero walks and Anthony Rizzo the only one out of 25 batters to reach base when Jansen hit him with a 93.7-mph pitch.

But the Dodgers are going to make mistakes, and the Cubs will have to capitalize. Unless this is the same kind of synthesis from the 2015 NLCS, when the New York Mets used exhaustive scouting reports, power pitching and pinpoint execution to sweep a Cubs team that had already hit the wall.

“Their bullpen is a lot stronger than it was last year,” Kris Bryant said. “They’re really good at throwing high fastballs in the zone. A lot of other teams try to, and they might hit it one out of every four. But this team, it seems like they really can hammer the top of the zone. And they have guys that throw in the upper 90s, so when you mix those two, it’s tough to catch up.”

· Bryant is not having a good October (5-for-28 with 13 strikeouts) and both Lester and Jose Quintana have more hits (one each) than Javier Baez (0-for-19 with eight strikeouts) during the playoffs. But we are still talking about the reigning NL MVP and last year’s NLCS co-MVP.

Ben Zobrist is clearly diminished and no longer the switch-hitting force who became last year’s World Series MVP. Kyle Schwarber doesn’t have the same intimidation factor or playoff aura right now. But one well-timed bunt from Zobrist or a “Schwarbomb” onto the video board could change the entire direction of this series and put the pressure on a Dodger team that knows this year is World Series or bust.

“We need to hit a couple balls hard consecutively,” manager Joe Maddon said. “Once we’re able to do that, we’ll gain our offensive mojo back. That's all that’s going on.

“I inherited something from my dad, and that was patience. So you’ve got to be patient right now. You’ve got to keep putting the boys back out there. You keep believing in them, and eventually it comes back to you.”

· Maddon is a 63-year-old man who opened Monday’s stadium club press conference at Wrigley Field by talking about dry-humping, clearly annoyed by all the second-guessers on Twitter and know-it-all sports writers who couldn’t believe All-Star closer Wade Davis got stranded in the bullpen, watching the ninth inning of Sunday’s 1-1 game turn into a 4-1 walk-off loss.

By the time a potential save situation develops on Tuesday night, roughly 120 hours will have passed since Davis threw his 44th and final pitch at Nationals Park, striking out Bryce Harper to end an instant classic. Just guessing that Maddon will be in the mood to unleash Davis.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Should the Bears let Mitch Trubisky throw more?

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Should the Bears let Mitch Trubisky throw more?

Adam Jahns (Chicago Sun-Times), Ben Finfer (ESPN 1000) and Jordan Cornette (The U/ESPN 1000) join Kap on the panel. Justin Turner hits a walk-off 3-run HR off of John Lackey to give the Dodgers a 2-0 lead in the NLCS. So why was Lackey even in the game? How much blame should Joe Maddon get for the loss?

The Bears run the ball over and over and over again to beat the Ravens in overtime, but should they have let Mitch Trubisky throw the ball more?