Blackhawks

Davis believes Bulls will be just fine without Rose

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Davis believes Bulls will be just fine without Rose

While its still early in the NBA season, there have been many surprises and one of the big ones has been the Orlando Magic.

Coming into Tuesday nights game against the Bulls, Orlando led the league in three-point field goal percentage (.538), was second in scoring (108) and had won their first two games by a margin of 17 points.

After losing franchise cornerstone, Dwight Howard, along with coach Stan Van Gundy and general manager Otis Smith, most believed the Magic would be one of the worst teams in the league, if not the worst.

Leading the way for them has been Glen Big Baby Davis, who is averaging a team-high 25 points and nine rebounds per game.

While those numbers may catch many off guard, Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau isnt one of them, having coached and seen Davis mature during his time as an assistant coach with the Boston Celtics.

It doesnt surprise me, Thibodeau said of Davis production. Hes shown throughout his career hes more than capable. Hes been in a number of big games before. Hes started games, come off the bench. There was the one season in Boston where Kevin Garnett got hurt, Davis started and scored big. So I know how good he is as a player.

The Magic fell to the Bulls 99-93 Tuesday, but Davis finished with a double-double of 16 points and 10 rebounds.

He credits his time in Boston for helping shape the player he is today, and credits Thibodeau with helping shape the mindset hes developed.

Just the mentality of perfection, said Davis. You cant be perfect but you can strive to be perfect. He did that in everything he did. Defensively, from the way he approached the game, long hours and nights of watching film on tendencies of players, what to do and what not to do.

"You pick that up as a youngster if you want to do well and if you want to succeed. Just his ins and outs of the game, especially after winning that championship in 2008, to see how good we were defensively because of his mentality and the way he approached every game. I learned a lot from him.

Its in knowing Thibodeaus mentality and pursuit of perfection why Davis doesnt see the Bulls being far from where they have been the past two years. Even without having Derrick Rose for most of the season.

I dont see them taking a step back, says Davis. I just see guys on their team having to step up. Guys just have to do a little bit more because Derrick Rose did a lot for that team. Guys like Carlos Boozer, Joakim Noah are guys that can really play the game at a high level.

"They have to do a little bit more to get wins. With Thibodeaus mindset, theyre going to play defense, but on the offensive end, knowing how to score and finding a way to score without Rose, theyre going to have to play as a team.

Whether or not Davis and the Magic can continue building on an impressive start remains to be seen. And when asked on that thought, Davis echoes phrases derived straight from the mind of Thibodeau.

Im just looking forward to taking things one day at a time and making sure that I walk the walk.

Five takeaways from Blackhawks' overtime loss to Lightning: Missed opportunities and one too many penalties

Five takeaways from Blackhawks' overtime loss to Lightning: Missed opportunities and one too many penalties

Here are five takeaways from the Blackhawks’ 3-2 overtime loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Wednesday night:
 
1. One too many penalties.

The Blackhawks flirted with danger in the first period when they handed the Lightning three straight continuous power plays, a four-minute double minor high-sticking penalty from John Hayden and a Jonathan Toews hooking call that resulted in a 5-on-3 opportunity for Tampa Bay for 43 seconds. 

The penalty kill unit that ranked fourth in the league entering the matchup, however, killed off all three of those penalties against the NHL's top-ranked power play, and did so in commanding fashion.

The Blackhawks went 5-for-5 on the penalty kill in regulation, but couldn't stop the sixth one — a questionable slashing call on Nick Schmaltz —  in overtime when Brayden Point buried the winner on a 4-on-3 opportunity.

It was also interesting that Jon Cooper elected to go with four forwards (Nikita Kucherov, Vladislav Namestnikov, Point and Steven Stamkos) and zero defensemen during that man advantage, putting all of his offensive weapons out on the ice. It's something more teams should do in that situation.

2. Patrick Kane gets going.

After scoring just one goal in his previous 10 games, Kane found the back of the net twice in the opening frame against Tampa Bay and stayed hot against a team he historically plays well against. And he nearly netted a hat trick in overtime but couldn't cash in on a breakaway opportunity.

Kane has 20 points (eight goals, 12 assists) in 14 career regular-season games against the Lightning, and extended his point streak to five games. He has three goals and four assists over that stretch.

We wrote about how important it is for the Blackhawks' superstars to get going again with the offensive contributions mainly coming from role players as of late, and Kane getting into a groove is a perfect step in that direction.

3. How about that goaltending battle?

Corey Crawford and Andrei Vasilevskiy showed us exactly why they belong in the Vezina Trophy discussion, and as of this moment, it's hard not to include both of them as finalists. They put on a goaltending clinic, seemingly topping the other as the game went on.

The two teams combined for 71 scoring chances, and Crawford and Vasilevskiy came up big when their teams need them the most.

Crawford finished with 35 saves on 38 shots (.921 save percentage) in the loss while Vasilevskiy stopped 29 of 31 (.935 save percentage), and improved to 15-2-1 on the season. 

4. Missed opportunities.

You couldn't have asked for a better start for the Blackhawks. They scored the first goal 3:49 into the game and the second on the power play at 15:54, killed off three penalties, including a 5-on-3, had 24 shot attempts (13 on goal) compared to the Lightning's 16 attempts (11 on goal) and led in even-strength scoring chances 9-6.

It was a different story the rest of the way.

The Blackhawks took their foot off the gas pedal a bit and let the Lightning back in the game by getting away from what they do best, and that's control the puck. Obviously, you expected the league's best offense to push back and it's certainly not an easy task to keep them off the scoresheet all together. 

But the Blackhawks had their chances to stay in front or retake the lead and just couldn't bury them. Tampa Bay had 50 shot attempts from the second period on while the Blackhawks had only 32, and finished with 44 scoring chances compared to Chicago's 27.

5. Richard Panik in the doghouse?

Joel Quenneville didn't go to his line blender in this one, but he did shorten some leashes. Panik, most notably, had a season-low 12:28 of ice time in the loss and had 15 shifts, which was second-fewest only to Ryan Hartman (13) on the team.

Panik had a prime chance to break a 2-2 tie in the third period but was denied by Vasilevskiy, who made a remarkable left-pad save. Instead, Panik extended his goal drought to 12 games and didn't get a shift in overtime.

He's certainly better and will get his scoring chances when playing on the top line with Toews and Brandon Saad, but the missed opportunities are magnified in tight losses. It doesn't look like a move down in the lineup is coming given the success of Alex DeBrincat, who gives the Blackhawks an offensive weapon on the third line, but perhaps it should be considered.

Bring your own stuffing: Jazz swat Bulls on Thanksgiving Eve

Bring your own stuffing: Jazz swat Bulls on Thanksgiving Eve

On the second (turkey) leg of a back-to-back, the Bulls didn't bring much energy in a 110-80 loss to the Utah Jazz. 

Instead of diving into the nitty-gritty of the uninspiring effort, though, we decided to just serve you up a Thanksgiving meal of highlights. Here are the top blocks from Wednesday's game: 

5. Derrick Favors is no Rudy Gobert -- that we know -- but imitation is the highest form of flattery. 

4. Are Bobby Portis chase down blocks the new LeBron James chase down blocks? Let's not get carried away... yet. We'll chalk it up to just a real nice hustle play by Bobby. 

3 and 2. Speaking of hustle plays... Jonas Jerebko isn't exactly known as a dominant defender. He sure made it hard for the Bulls on what should of been an easy fast-break bucket in the third quarter, though. First, he silenced Kris Dunn's reverse. Then, he met Lauri Markkanen at the rim and sent the rookie packing. The Baby Bulls 2.0 can blame it on fatigue, but they just handed Jerebko a highlight tape for years to come.   

1. In fairness, Jerian Grant had to get up a shot as the quarter was coming to a close. It is as vicious as it looks, though.