Bulls

A new word for your vocabulary: xoloitzcuintli

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A new word for your vocabulary: xoloitzcuintli

From Comcast SportsNet
NEW YORK (AP) -- Jose Barrera enjoys pretty things. A jewelry designer to the stars, his gold-plated breastplate is what Beyonce wore for her "I Am ... Sasha Fierce" album. These days, he's showing off another gem -- Alma Dulce, his tiny, trembling xoloitzcuintli. His what? With the 136th Westminster Kennel Club dog show which began on Monday, it's become time for some to know your Xs and Os. So start with the xoloitzcuintli, one of six new breeds welcomed this year to Madison Square Garden. "They are exotic," Barrera said. "You can't take her for a walk around the block without someone stopping you to ask, 'What is that, how do you spell that?'" Commonly known as a Mexican hairless, and featuring oversized batlike ears, they're pronounced "show-low-eats-QUEEN-tlee." That's according to Amy Fernandez, an expert who's written books about the breed. "We go around with little cards at shows telling people how to say it. Otherwise, you would lose your voice doing it every time," she said. Fernandez planned to enter two of her xoloitzcuintli in America's most distinguished dog show. There are 10 ready to compete, though little Alma Dulce will sit out this time at only 2 years old. The "show-low" expected to show best is Georgio Armani, the first xolo to win best in show at an American Kennel Club event. "As magnificent a dog of any breed that we might see," praised David Frei, longtime television host of Westminster. More than 2,000 pooches will take part, coming in 185 breeds and varieties. Among the favorites to become top dog are a wire fox terrier, a smooth fox terrier, an affenpinscher and a couple of standard poodles. Judge Cindy Vogels, who comes from a terrier background, will point to her pick as best in show around 11 p.m. Tuesday. CNBC and the USA Network will share the TV coverage on the first night, then USA will show the winner. Next year, Westminster expects to have 3,200 entries when it moves part of its show about 20 blocks north to an exposition space along the Hudson River. The show normally has 2,500 dogs, but an ongoing renovation at the Garden took away available space, so Westminster will hold its breed judging at Piers 9294. The nighttime events -- group judging and the best in show pick -- will remain at the Garden, the show announced Sunday night. Last year, Hickory the Scottish deerhound earned the prized silver bowl. Among the popular winners from the past were Uno the beagle, Josh the Newfoundland and J.R. the bichon frise. This year's six new breeds to Westminster are the xoloitzcuintli, the Entlebucher mountain dog, the Norwegian lundehund, the American English coonhound, the Finnish lapphund and the Cesky terrier. Watching any of them win would be a surprise -- it's taken more than a quarter-century for any newcomer to take the top honor. Seeing any xolo is pretty rare, be it in the nonsporting group or anywhere else. Sporting an Aztec name that meant "dog of the gods," the xolo dates back 3,000 years, Fernandez said. "An ancient, primitive breed," she said. Fernandez said there are about 2,500 purebred of them in the United States. They were able to meet the AKC criteria for recognition -- an ample number, a good geographic distribution in the country and a parent club to set proper standards. A xolo can range from about 10 to 24 inches high, weigh from 10 to 50 pounds and have hair or be hairless. Their skin is very warm, and once was believed to provide healing power to humans in chronic pain who slept next to them. Barrera certainly is having fun with Alma Dulce. He brought her to a recent dog event with an attractive turquoise necklace and a little tuft of hair atop her head. "I didn't even realize you could get a xolo in the present day," Barrera said. "I looked at breeds from A to Z. This was the X factor."

Bulls Talk Podcast: Will Kris Dunn build off career night?

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USA TODAY

Bulls Talk Podcast: Will Kris Dunn build off career night?

On this edition of the Bulls Talk podcast, Mark Schanowski, Kendall Gill, and Kevin Anderson react to a breakout game from Kris Dunn against the Hornets Friday night. They’ll discuss his development and how it impacts rookie Lauri Markkanen. Plus just how long will both the Wolves and Bulls be judged on the Jimmy Butler trade? Is Dwight Howard a hall of famer? And a new era in Philly with Simmons and Embiid. That and more on this edition of the Bulls Talk podcast.

Observations from Bulls-Hornets: Kris Dunn, a sigh of relief and hack-a-who?

Observations from Bulls-Hornets: Kris Dunn, a sigh of relief and hack-a-who?

Kris Dunn did it: You can’t play that position without an edge, without some form of “basketball killer” in you. Kris Dunn showed at the very least, he has that in his DNA in his best game as a Bull with a career-high 22 points, seven assists and five rebounds.

Leave it to Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg to point out a forgotten stat: one turnover in 26 minutes.

“That’s the biggest thing I’m proud of,” Dunn said. “Everyone knows I’ve had a lot of careless turnovers in the season. It’s one thing I’ll take credit for.”

Dunn scored 13 with six assists in the fourth quarter alone as the Bulls outscored the Hornets 40-28 for the comeback victory. More than anything, it was his competitive spirit and aggressiveness that stood out. Kemba Walker stood across the way and gave Dunn—and the Bulls—every bit of 47 points.

“He tested my conditioning, for sure,” Dunn admitted. “He’s a great player. He’s been in the league for so long. It was good to go out there and compete with him.”

It could’ve went a different way had Walker not been bothered by Lauri Markkanen’s challenge at the rim, blowing a layup that would’ve given the Hornets the lead back with seconds remaining but he missed it and the narrative changed at least for a night.

And when teams are talking about learning experiences, it’s good to have them in a win every now and again. Markkanen’s challenge at the rim followed by his closing free throws right after, along with a quietly effective 16 points and seven rebounds, proved huge on this night.

Dunn finally having a confidence booster was imperative.

Dunn scored but it wasn’t an easy 20 or a smooth 20. It was an attacking 20, a necessary 20. He did hit some elbow jumpers, especially in the fourth as the defense laid off him.

But his biggest basket was a slithering drive to the rim for a layup with 2:24 left, because he attacked and was under control.

“That’s huge growth for Kris,” Hoiberg said. “He made the right play darn near every time he had the ball in his hands. Rose up with confidence, knocked down huge shots. Defensively got them going, got steals.”

What a relief: Nobody wanted to say it, but it bore out on the floor, the sheer desperation the Bulls played with.

Coming in with a five-game losing streak and headed out west to for four games in the next week, they were staring in the face of a possible double-digit losing streak to end November.

Confidence was sparse after three bad losses, and it’s a dangerous time for a team that will struggle to win games all season.

The United Center crowd got into it, particularly late when the Bulls began climbing back into contention to start the fourth quarter. The fans wanted this win too, even with the eyes being on a larger prize coming in mid-2018.

The relief was written all over Hoiberg’s usually-stress ridden face and he even cracked a couple jokes that weren’t aimed in his direction, as self-deprecation is normally his escape of choice.

“It is important but I asked the guys: is it hard to play with that type of effort? When you play with that type of energy and effort and swagger, it’s fun,” Hoiberg said. “When you play low energy and hang your head, it’s a drag. It’s hard to play at this level with that mentality.”

Starting change: Justin Holiday returned after his quick leave with his wife delivering a baby girl recently and his game-high 27 points showed he missed the Bulls as much as they missed his shooting, hitting four triples and going 10 for 15 from the field.

“Guys were serious about getting their jobs done,” Holiday said. “It was a lot of energy, a lot of energy, competitiveness. That’s how we have to play every night for our team to do well.”

Denzel Valentine, although he didn’t want to say it, wants to be a starter. Hoiberg chose Quincy Pondexter over him recently and then made the change Friday to insert Valentine for more scoring.

Valentine scored 18 with six assists and five rebounds in 32 minutes of run—and with those two starting as scoring options, the Bulls surpassed that seven-point first-quarter mark really early and scored 26 overall.

He hit a big triple in the fourth with 2:49 left to give the Bulls a 110-109 lead on a set play the Bulls actually executed between Valentine, Dunn as a setup man and Robin Lopez as a screen to pop Valentine open.

If he continues to hit 3-pointers at a 40 percent clip, especially with the way the Bulls have struggled to start games, he’ll have the right to feel he belongs in the first five.

“It’s definitely more confidence,” Valentine said. “You feel you’re an NBA starter, you get to go in and feel it out for a second and bring some energy to start the game.”

He didn’t mince words about starting, with a little honesty saying, “I think it’s huge being a starter.”

When asked if he felt validated by his performance and the result being a high-scoring win, it was just as telling.

“I think I deserve…I think I deserved a starting role,” Valentine said. “At the same time it’s different combinations, different people that need to be on the floor at certain times, so if he feels like I don’t need to start, I won’t start. But I feel very comfortable starting as well.”

Hack-a-Dwight: It could be Hack-a-Dwight, hack-a-Drummond, hack-a-Wilt or Shaq or Charles Shackleford.

The Bulls went to it and Howard went two of four from the line but it took a little rhythm from the Hornets and probably slowed Kemba Walker down just enough before he got cooking in the last 90 seconds and almost pulled a win out of his keister.

But…

I hate it. Get it out of the game completely.