Rose misses fifth consecutive game vs. Raptors


Rose misses fifth consecutive game vs. Raptors

TORONTOFor the fifth consecutive game, Derrick Rose will be a spectator, Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau confirmed before Wednesdays game against the Raptors.

Hes out, said Thibodeau of Rose, who has a strained right groin. No running yet. Running in the pool. Hes doing more and more. Hes doing some shooting. Hes in the pool. Hes moving along.

Injuries are part of the game. If someones injured, regardless of where we are, who were playing against, we dont want them to play. We want them to be healthy. If someones hurting and they can play, thats a different story, he said prior to the teams morning shootaround at the Air Canada Centre. The important thing right now is getting better every day and we want him to be completely healthy, and when he is, hes going to play. Somehow this notion that you can miss the entire season and come back in the playoffs, and play well, I havent seen that yet, so I dont know what people are talking about. You have to build the right habits, so you can perform well when it matters most.

Those comments seemed to indirectly mention the other member of the Bulls starting backcourt, Rip Hamilton, but Thibodeau indicated hed remain patient with the veteran shooting guard.

There are certain things you cant control and whatever the circumstances are, were going to deal with it as best as we can., said the coach, who added that he wanted Hamilton to play in as many games as possible before the postseason. Were going to do whats best for our team.

After routing Orlandothe Bulls held the Magic to a franchise record for fewest points allowed to an opponent in a regular-season gameMonday, one might expect Chicago to be feeling good about taking on the inferior Raptors. However, dont expect the Bulls to take their opponent lightly.

They have a lot of weapons. Their wings are real tough, athletic. DeRozans had a terrific year, James Johnsons played very well for them. They have quality depth up front. Aaron Grays a very solid player. If he gets deep post position, he can really hurt you. Amir Johnson and Ed Davis are tough coming off the bench. Linas Kleiza can really spread you out. So, were concerned. Gary Forbes has done a good job when hes played as a backup point. Theyre a team that can score a lot. Weve got to make sure that were ready from the start of the game, Thibodeau noted about the Raptors, who have injured stars Jose Calderon and Andrea Bargnani back in the lineup. Your point guard and primary scorer. The team is built around those guys. Those guys being out definitely hurt then. Bayless came in and played extremely well when Bayless was out. You cant miss two players like that and not feel it. Theyre a talented team. Now that they have everyone back I think theyre going to be very dangerous.

Thibodeau and his squad are aware that after Mondays victory, Toronto could be a so-called trap game, something theyd like to avoid after a disappointing home loss to Portland after beating Miami last week.

I think our guys have done a good job all year. Theyve been studying. They know that the Raptors have been playing well, said Thibodeau. They were able to win at Memphis and at Cleveland. Thats not easy to do and theyre scoring big points. For them I think Dwane Casey, the Raptors first-year head coach has done a really great job with them. A lot of injuries and now theyre getting guys back, so we know theyre a good team.

Chimed in Ronnie Brewer: Its very tough when you have a great win, to let your guard down and play into the hands of a trap game, but we let a game get away from us against Portland. But Thibs is keeping us on our Ps and Qs, and we know we have to come out with a lot of effort to play well and continue this win streak.

Echoed Joakim Noah: Thats the toughest part, trying to stay focused. We know they have players that are very capable, players that have definitely hurt us in the past, so were just trying to stay focused. Its an important game for us.

For the short-handed Bulls to be at their best, a solid performance from banged-up backup point guard C.J. Watson would help, after the fill-in starter struggled offensively against Orlando in place of Rose.

C.J. Watson, hes played very well for us whenever he has started, so hes been solid, said Thibodeau. I dont necessarily measure him by his shots. I measure him by how hes running the team, how the team is functioning, how hes playing defense. So, he can play well when he doesnt shoot well and hes shown that. Thats what he did in that game and I thought he ran the team well, so he just has to keep doing what hes doing.

The pros and cons of reuniting Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews on Blackhawks top line


The pros and cons of reuniting Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews on Blackhawks top line

Jonathan Toews' offense usually comes in spurts. We're seeing it again right now.

But it's no coincidence his numbers have spiked since Patrick Kane joined him on the top line.

After recording another two points in Saturday's 5-3 loss to the Buffalo Sabres, the Blackhawks captain has 11 points (four goals, seven assists) in his past eight games; he had 11 points in his previous 23 games total.

Toews also reached the 20-goal mark for the 11th straight season, joining Kane and Alex Ovechkin as the only three active players to accomplish that feat to open their NHL careers.

Kane has seen his offensive production pick up, too. He has 16 points (four goals, 12 assists) in his past 13 games after going five straight without one, which was his longest point drought of the season.

When the two of them are on the ice together at even strength, they control 57.9 percent of the shot attempts. It hasn't quite translated on the scoresheet (14 goals for and 17 goals against) maybe the way it should, but they are certainly spending far more time in the offensive zone than the defensive end and are generating a high volume of shots.

So yes, reuniting the dynamic duo has worked stats-wise.

But it comes at a cost:

— Vinnie Hinostroza and Nick Schmaltz haven't scored in six straight contests.

— Alex DeBrincat's season-long goal drought is up to 13 games.

— Artem Anisimov's last even-strength goal came nine games ago.

When you put Kane and Toews together, you risk losing some balance across the lineup and that's why Joel Quenneville has always been reluctant to go to that nuclear option. He prefers when opposing teams are forced to play 'Pick Your Poison.'

Ideally, you'd like to spread out the scoring, but one thing is for certain: The Blackhawks are better when Kane and Toews are each producing offensively, whether they're apart or together. 

When the wins start to dry up though — and they have — that's normally when it's time to try something different.

Perhaps more importantly, the last thing you want are those scoring droughts mentioned above to stretch even further and get inside the younger skaters' heads, then carrying it with them into the offseason.

Morgan Park claims back-to-back Class 3A state titles with win over Southeast

Morgan Park claims back-to-back Class 3A state titles with win over Southeast

PEORIA -- Morgan Park claimed its second consecutive IHSA Class 3A boys basketball state title with a 71-56 win over Springfield Southeast on Saturday afternoon.

The Mustangs (25-9) jumped out to a 35-27 halftime lead and maintained control for good when senior guard and Player of the Year candidate Ayo Dosunmu took over the game at the end of the third quarter. With the Mustangs clinging to a one-possession lead in a chippy game, the Illinois commit calmly scored eight straight points on three possessions to give Morgan Park a comfortable 54-45 advantage heading into the final quarter. Playing in front of his future college head coach, Brad Underwood, Dosunmu finished out a memorable high-school career with a Class 3A state-title record 28 points.

Senior Cam Burrell added 11 points and eight rebounds for the Mustangs while sophomore guards Adam Miller and Marcus Watson also chipped in 11 points each.

Southeast (29-4) was playing for its first boys basketball state title in school history, but they ultimately fell short after the third-quarter rally. Junior Anthony Fairlee led the charge with 16 points and 10 rebounds for Southeast before fouling out while Terrion Murdix (12 points) and Kobe Medley (10 points) also finished in double-figures. With only one senior starter this season, the future still looks bright for Southeast for next season. The Spartans should return another strong team as they'll once again be a factor in the state title race.

Saturday's win marks the fifth boys basketball state championship for Morgan Park and the fourth state title in six years for the program under head coach Nick Irvin. Clearly the most dominant Class 3A team in Illinois, the Mustangs have the look of a long-lasting dynasty. Morgan Park has advanced to Peoria in five of the last six seasons and the roster still features plenty of young talent. Miller could be a Player of the Year candidate in the area next season. Watson should also step up when they become upperclassmen.   

Morgan Park also became the second Chicago Public League program to claim back-to-back IHSA state titles in 2018 after Orr captured the Class 2A title last weekend in Peoria.