Blackhawks

Thunder coach Brooks talks Thibs, Bulls

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Thunder coach Brooks talks Thibs, Bulls

OKLAHOMA CITYThunder head coach Scott Brooks is very familiar with his counterpart on the opposing sideline, Tom Thibodeau. During his playing career, Brooks, a longtime journeyman NBA backup point guard, played for teams on which Thibodeau was an assistant in Minnesota and New York.

His work ethic is at a high level. His basketball knowledge and passion for the game is really good. He works and works. He puts in a lot of time, cares about what he does and his team, Brooks said before his team faced Thibodeaus Sunday afternoon. Im glad he got a chance. It took him 20 years to get this opportunity but its well deserved and hes going to be doing it for a lot more years.

Then, Brooks elaborated, opining on Thibodeaus famous singlemindedness.

I mean, the guy has no life. Even when he was young as an assistant, he never wanted to go out to dinner with me. He had things to do, the Thunder coach quipped. Hes boring. He just wants to coach basketball.

Brooks also discussed the Bulls success this season.

Theyre willing defenders. They have a lot of pride in what they do. Their bigs protect the paint, theyre a great rebounding team and they just come at you on both ends, Brooks explained. Offensively, they play hard and they go through screens harder than any team in the league. They set great screens. Theyre a good team. Their record proves that.

Theyre the best team in the league. They do a lot of great things at both ends of the floor, he continued. Chicago always brings the best out of you because they play so hard at both ends. If you dont match that, then youre not going to look good against them. You cant have an off day and win.

Thibodeau and Brooks are both former NBA Coaches of the Year and if Brooks superstar player, Kevin Durant, continues playing the way he has this season, the pair will have something else in common: Coaching league MVP winners.

You could probably mark the conversation down for the next decade or so. The guy is only going to get better. Hes a worker. I love what hes about. I dont talk to him about it. Hes never mentioned it to me. Hes about winning. If youre one of the better players and youre winning the way were winning, hes always going to be in consideration and thats the thing about Kevin, Brooks said of Durant. He scores and hes scoring this year efficiently, not taking a lot of shots to get his points, gets to the free-throw line at a good rate and hes passing the ball better, hes rebounding better. Hes doing a lot of things better for us and were winning games.

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks look to bounce back against Panthers

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Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks look to bounce back against Panthers

Here are Three Things to Watch when the Blackhawks take on the Florida Panthers Saturday on NBC Sports Chicago and streaming live on the NBC Sports app. Coverage begins at 5:30 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live.

(Reminder: Use #AskEdzo on social media and your questions may be answered by Eddie Olczyk, who will be in studio along with Adam Burish, Brian Campbell and Pat Boyle).

1. Another fast start coming?

The Blackhawks had one of their best starts of the season Wednesday in Tampa Bay, and the numbers favor Chicago to dictate the pace of play early again.

The Panthers are tied with the Buffalo Sabres for the fewest goals scored in the first period (13), and have taken a lead into the second period only four times (3-1-0) in 21 games. They are 2-7-1 in the 10 games they've trailed after the opening frame.

The Blackhawks, on the other hand, are tied for fourth when it comes to first-period goals (22) — albeit, five of them came on Opening Night against Pittsburgh — but they are just 4-2-2 in eight games when leading after one period. In fact, they took a 2-0 lead into the second in their most recent game against the Lightning and lost in overtime 3-2.

So while a fast start could certainly be in the cards, the finish must also be there.

2. Take advantage on special teams.

The Panthers are one of two teams ranked among the bottom six in both power play percentage (26th at 16.0) and penalty kill percentage (30th at 73.2).

Meanwhile, the Blackhawks are coming in hot in both areas. They're 6-for-17 (35.3 percent) on the man advantage in their last four games, and own the fourth-best penalty kill unit (84.8 percent).

This is the area to exploit for the Blackhawks going into the matchup, and it could decide the game.

3. Feed Lance Bouma!

In his seventh season, Bouma has faced every NHL team at least five times in his career, with the exception of Vegas (pointless in one game this season).

Bouma is not known for his offensive prowess (72 points in 325 career games), but it's a different story when he plays Florida.

In six career games against the Panthers, Bouma has one goal, six assists and a career-high plus-8 rating. That one goal also happens to be one of his six career game winners.

Florida is the only team Bouma is averaging at least a point-per-game against for his career, so you know what that means: Feed No. 17!

Did Steve Kerr troll the Bulls?

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AP

Did Steve Kerr troll the Bulls?

With Kevin Durant (ankle) and Draymond Green (rest) out, the Golden State Warriors had two starting forward positions open for Friday's game against the Bulls.

One of the two starters who replaced them? Jordan Bell. Does his name ring one, too?

Selected by the Bulls with the 38th pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, Bell was eventually traded to the Warriors in exchange for cash considerations.

The Oregon product hasn't played much this season for the defending champs, averaging just 3.2 points and 8.3 minutes in 12 games, but he made his first career start against ... his "former" team. Coincidence?

Warriors coach Steve Kerr (jokingly) explained why he gave the 22-year-old rookie the nod in the lineup.

Prior to the game, Bell also had this to say about his trade:

Bell couldn't have played better in his first career start. In 26 minutes, he recorded seven points, six rebounds, six blocks and four assists in a 143-94 Warriors win over the Bulls at Oracle Arena.