Preps Talk

Noah, Robinson help Bulls dominate Celtics

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Noah, Robinson help Bulls dominate Celtics

Following Monday nights loss in Memphis, the Bulls (14-10) lamented their rebounding, so Tuesday at the United Center rebounding is what they did, as in bouncing back with a 100-89 victory over the Celtics (12-12).
Besides winning the battle of the boards, the Bulls also employed a solid defensive effort, good ball security and outstanding individual performances, including Joakim Noahs triple-double, an efficient scoring night from Luol Deng and Nate Robinson stealing the show off the bench to close things out.
Sparked by the scoring of forwards Deng (21 points) and Carlos Boozer (21 points, 12 rebounds), as well as the uncanny playmaking of Noah (11 points, 13 rebounds, 10 assists), the Bulls started the evening with more of an offensive tone than the previous night. However, they were countered by Bostons balanced scoring, led by future Hall of Famers Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, leading to a close-knit affair in the opening period.
Marco Belinelli was also a factor for the Bulls in the early going, as was Celtics floor general Rajon Rondo (26 points, eight assists), who was his usual playmaking self, setting up teammates for easy scoring opportunities. But Deng continued to excel for the hosts, leading to a 28-23 edge after a quarter of play.
Behind Dengs propensity for getting to the foul lineand accuracy, as he knocked down his first 10 attempts from the charity stripeand, in an effort to match up with Bostons small-ball lineup, a backcourt featuring Robinson (18 points, 5-of-7 three-point shooting) and Marquis Teague, the Bulls seized control of the contest.
Robinson and fellow reserve Jimmy Butler gave the hosts a boost of energy with their scoring and offensive rebounding, respectively, while Noahs all-around game hinted at a triple-double in the making and by getting out in transition and dominating the offensive glass, the Bulls took a double-digit lead. However, toward the end of the half, Boston battled back behind Rondo, but at the intermission, the Bulls maintained a 53-46 advantage.
After the break, Boozer became the focal point of the Bulls offense, shouldering the home teams scoring load, en route to them once again building the winning margin to double digits. Despite the stellar play of Rondo, who looked more for his shot as his teammates struggled to score, the Celtics couldnt dig themselves out of the hole.
Besides their offensive cohesiveness and improved rebounding after losing the battle of the boards in their three previous outingsthe defense wasnt outstanding, as Boston shot a decent percentageperhaps the biggest key to the Bulls success was their ability to take care of the ball and limit turnovers. Deng picked up the slack on the back end of the frame, then, just like the end of the previous quarter, the Celtics, propelled by Rondo, made another push, but heading into the final stanza, the Bulls led, 79-70.
Robinsons instant-offense scoring from deep gave the Bulls a big lift at the outset of the fourth quarter, giving the Bulls plenty of breathing room and further widening the gap between the two teams. Taj Gibson (13 points, five rebounds, four assists), playing on a gimpy ankle, also made his presence, and was on the receiving end of Noahs 10th assist of the night, giving the center a triple-double, the second of his career.
With Robinson leading the charge, the difference in the game grew to blowout proportions midway through the period and while the partisan crowd was still very much involved, it was all academic by that point in the lopsided affair. Even Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau had to tacitly admit that it was over and his team did a job well done, as he subbed out the likes of Deng and Noah, two of the NBAs leaders in minutes per game.

High School Lites Week 9 football roundup

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High School Lites Week 9 football roundup

High School Lites featured plenty of great action on Friday night as NBC Sports Chicago had highlights of many of the area's top matchups. Some playoff dreams came to fruition while others crashed and burned. 

Watch tomorrow as the IHSA playoff brackets are revealed tomorrow on NBC Sports Chicago+ at 8 p.m. Be sure to also follow us on Twitter @NBCSPreps for all of the latest IHSA football scores and highlights. 

DRIVE: Prairie Ridge: Episode 10

Wintrust Athlete of the Week: Back of the Yards QB Jeremiah Harris

St. Xavier Team of the Week: De La Salle Meteors

Friday's Top 25 Games

No. 1 Lincoln-Way East 18, No. 19 Bolingbrook 14 

No. 2 Prairie Ridge 55, Dundee-Crown 14

No. 3 Maine South 56, Niles West 9

No. 4 Marist 42, Joliet Catholic 14

No. 5 Lake Zurich , Mundelein

No. 6 Phillips 53, Clark 0

No. 9 Homewood-Flossmoor 50, Sandburg 14

No. 10 Barrington 40, Conant 19

No. 11 Huntley 45, McHenry 7

No. 12 Naperville Central 35, Lake Park 21

No. 13 Hinsdale Central 42, Hinsdale South 14

No. 24 St. Charles North 35, No. 14 Batavia 28

No. 16 Wheaton North 20, Waubonsie Valley 10

No. 17 Crete-Monee 52, Cahokia 8

No. 18 St. Rita 47, Marmion 14

No. 20 Lyons 31, Oak Park-River Forest 14

No. 21 Nazareth 48, Marian Catholic 7

No. 22 Oswego 30, Plainfield Central 0

Mount Carmel 35, No. 23 Providence 34

Other Highlights

Tinley Park 29, Evergreen Park 0

T.F. South 21, Oak Forest 14

Glenbard North 24, Neuqua Valley 14

St. Edward 29, Wheaton Academy 28

Marian Central Catholic 44, St. Patrick 21

Saturday's Top 25 Games

No. 7 Loyola vs. Brother Rice

No. 8 Glenbard West vs. Proviso West

Cubs will be open for business as Theo Epstein weighs trading hitters for pitching

Cubs will be open for business as Theo Epstein weighs trading hitters for pitching

Theo Epstein answered questions from the Chicago media for more than an hour on Friday afternoon at Wrigley Field, but the most interesting part might have been what the Cubs president didn’t say, something along the lines of: These are our guys.

Or at least Epstein didn’t give the same full-throated endorsement of The Core that he delivered after engineering the Jose Quintana trade with the White Sox this summer, getting an All-Star pitcher without giving up anyone from the big-league roster.

Whether it’s the way the Los Angeles Dodgers dominated the Cubs throughout the National League Championship Series that ended Thursday night, the inconsistencies and frustrations during a 43-45 first half of this season or the reality of losing 40 percent of the rotation, you walked out of that stadium club press conference thinking big changes could be coming.

“We’re going to pursue all avenues to get better,” Epstein said.

The Cubs already understood this would be a challenging time to dramatically reshape their pitching staff, with Cy Young Award winner Jake Arrieta, Big Boy John Lackey and All-Star closer Wade Davis about to become free agents.

The Cubs don’t really have many (any?) high-end, headliner prospects left to trade after borrowing heavily from their farm system to acquire Aroldis Chapman for last year’s World Series run and get Quintana to help solidify the rotation through 2020.

All of Major League Baseball is looking beyond this winter and preparing for the monster free-agent class that will hit the open market after the 2018 season.

Meaning it’s time for the Cubs to make some difficult decisions about all these young hitters they’ve collected.

“It may or may not be,” Epstein said. “Those choices, they’re not unilateral things. You can’t sit there and decide: ‘Hey, this guy, we’re moving him.’ Because you don’t know what the return might be. You don’t know how the different moving parts might fit together.

“I think going into the offseason prepared to make some tough choices and execute on them — and keeping an open mind to anything — is appropriate under the circumstances where we have some obvious deficits and we have some real surplus with talented players who are really desirable.”

Let’s assume All-Star first baseman Anthony Rizzo, MVP third baseman Kris Bryant and catcher Willson Contreras are essentially untouchable.

The Cubs used the ninth overall pick in the 2015 draft on Ian Happ with the explicit idea that the college hitter should be on a fast track and could be flipped for pitching later: Is it time to sell high after the rookie just put up 24 homers and an .842 OPS?

During an exit meeting with Albert Almora Jr., Epstein said he couldn’t promise an everyday job in 2018, though the expectation would be more responsibilities: Think anyone else would be interested in a potential Gold Glove center fielder who’s already playoff-tested?

Do you want Addison Russell or Javier Baez as your everyday shortstop for the next four years? Is there an American League team willing to bet big that Kyle Schwarber will crush 40 homers a year as a designated hitter?

The Cubs have to ask themselves those types of questions, which could mean getting outside of their comfort zone and taking on some riskier pitching investments and sapping the strength that has turned them into the dominant force in the NL Central.

“We’ve really benefitted from having two or three extra — and ‘extra’ in quotes because they’re not really extra — starting-caliber players on the roster,” Epstein said. “That helped us win 97 games in ’15, 103 last year, 92 this year. That’s as big a part of the club as anything.

“Having an Addison Russell go down and being able to move Javy Baez to shortstop — that’s an obvious example of it. But those things show up every week for us. There’s a day where someone can’t make the lineup and someone else slides in and you’re still starting eight quality guys. That’s huge.

“Sooner or later, you reach a point where you have to strongly consider sacrificing some of that depth to address needs elsewhere on the club. There’s no sort of deadline to do that. But I think we’re entering the phase where we have to be really open-minded to that if it makes the overall outlook of the team and organization better.”

Translation: The Cubs are open for business. Make your best offer.