Blackhawks

Week 8 Power Rankings: Clippers soaring

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Week 8 Power Rankings: Clippers soaring

By Tony Andracki & Mark Strotman

Each Monday throughout the regular season, Mark Strotman and Tony Andracki will rank all 30 NBA teams. Below are Week 7 Power Rankings. Think we're way off? Agree with our picks? Hit us up on Twitter at@BullsTalkCSNwith comments or criticisms.
Past rankings:PreseasonWeek 1Week 2Week 3 Week 4 Week 5 Week 6 Week 7

Tony
MarkComments1
Tony:Hey, they finally lost!
Mark: Best team in the NBA, and they are coached by Vinny del Negro.
2
Tony: Hey, they still haven't lost since November!
Mark: Win streak is over, but OKC-Miami will be lots of fun tomorrow.
3
Tony: Parker and Co. spoiled TheReturn: Dirk Edition.
Mark: LeBron went 250 minutes without committing a foul? Wow.
4
Tony: Need to get LeBron some help.
Mark: Kawhi Leonard making a big impact after his return from injury.
5
Tony: Can't handle Bulls, Rockets.
Mark: Nasty week, but Carmelo is still playing out of his mind.
6
Tony: What happens if 31-year-old Randolph gets hurt?
Mark: Recent struggles, but still just 1 game behind the Spurs for the division.7
Tony: Not much star power, but very solid all-around squad.
Mark: Marc Jackson continues to successfully coach easily the biggest surprise in the NBA.8
Tony: Curry should be getting some MVP votes. He's been phenomenal.
Mark: Good for them to get a big win over Chicago last week.9
Tony: Not quite consistent enough yet, but rounding into form.
Mark: If they replicate this success until Rose returns, Bulls will fight for East supremacy.
10
Tony: Just won't let Bulls run away with the division.
Mark: Interested to see how Omer Asik responds to Joakim Noah's comments.
11
Tony: At least they have the Knicks' number, ya know?
Mark: Deepest team in league finding stride, beating Memphis and San Antonio last 2 weeks.
12
Tony: If McGee can stay under control, he's a solid, efficient role player.
Mark: Nash coming back, but will it make a difference for West's No. 11 seed?
13
Tony: So now Humphries is getting benched? Too much drama in Brooklyn.
Mark: Same as Bulls, patiently waiting until their superstar (Granger) returns.
14
Tony: Ellis can just take over games sometimes.
Mark: Jennings trade talks heating up, and they will be until the deadline.
15
Tony: Kevin Love just needs to stay on the court.
Mark: Rubio beginning to ramp up minutes can only mean good things for Minnesota.16
Tony: On outside of playoff race if season ended today.
Mark: Struggled against fierce competition, as expected by most.
17
Tony: Can still be exploited inside by most teams.
Mark:Bynum thinks he can still contribute this season; I'll say he doesn't.
18
Tony: J.J. Hickson is actually playing pretty well.
Mark: What did Avery Johnson do to Deron Williams' field goal percentage?
19
Tony: Fading fast, and even with Holiday back and playing at high level again.
Mark: Pierce is on fire lately, but his teammates aren't matching the effort.
20
Tony: On a four-game win streak, but they've had to fight and claw for every victory.
Mark: Wes Matthews needs to get healthy, as the playoffs are a possibility in diluted West.
21
Tony: To say Dirk's return could've gone better is an understatement.
Mark: So what will Dwight Howard say if the Magic make the playoffs and he doesn't?
22
Tony: Still just kinda hangin' around.
Mark: Fading fast, need some shakeups.
23
Tony: I just don't get Alvin Gentry's rotation. At all.
Mark: 12-16 Mavs must love having Dirk back.
24
Tony: They're on a five-game win streak and they're still only 9-19? Ouch.
Mark: Two straight wins after losing six in a row, eight of nine.
25
Tony: Andre Drummond looking like a solid future piece.
Mark: 5 straight wins, but Houston the only opponent of note.
26
Tony: The DeMarcus Cousins situation has just become laughable.
Mark:Cavs probably need to deal Varejao and continue rebuilding.
27
Tony: Ridiculous that a six-win team is 27th.
Mark:With Evans, Cousins out, Kings score 105 points. Go figure.
28
Tony: It's like a race with Nawlins for worst record in NBA. They may never win again.
Mark: Would love to see Anthony Davis, Austin Rivers and Eric Gordon together soon.
29
Tony: Seriously? 11 straight losses? At least Davis has grown another half-inch in NO.
Mark: 15 losses in a row. It's last year all over again.
30
Tony:Amazing that a seven-game losing streak is far from worst in league.
Mark: Bradley Beal and Jordan Crawford will work well when John Wall returns.

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.