Blackhawks

Which NBA team has quietly won 9 straight games?

553968.jpg

Which NBA team has quietly won 9 straight games?

From Comcast SportsNet
BOSTON (AP) -- Paul Pierce got the shot he wanted. Tim Duncan got the result. Duncan prevented Pierce from driving to the basket, forcing him to take a fadeaway jumper that clanged off the rim at the buzzer and the San Antonio Spurs held on for their ninth straight win, 87-86 over Boston on Wednesday night. "It was make or miss. I just didn't want him to go by me," said Duncan, who had 10 points and 16 rebounds. "To be honest with you, he probably got the shot he wanted." Pierce had 15 points and 10 rebounds, but he couldn't maneuver into open space after Boston inbounded the ball with 7.9 seconds left. The 6-foot-11 Duncan stayed on him, forcing the 6-foot-7 Pierce to step back near the top of the key for a floater. "I think I got to a good place. Just missed the shot," Pierce said. "These things are not really pre-scripted. You get into pressure situations, sometimes they make and sometimes they don't." Danny Green scored 14 points, and Gary Neal had 13, including a 3-pointer with 2 minutes left that put the Spurs back in front after they blew a 17-point, first-half lead. Rajon Rondo had 17 points and 11 assists for Boston, which had won five in a row. Avery Bradley scored 19 points off the bench for Boston, and Kevin Garnett had 16 points, seven rebounds and five assists. Ray Allen returned after missing six games with a sore right ankle and added seven rebounds and five points, including a 3-pointer in the final minute that brought Boston within a point. Green missed for San Antonio and Garnett got the rebound, but the Celtics couldn't convert. "We were trying to get a Duncan-on-Paul matchup because we thought we had the speed advantage," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. "But his step-back is what he wants." The Celtics trailed 77-70 with 8:20 left before scoring 13 of the next 17 points to take the lead. San Antonio, which averaged 107 points in the first eight games of its winning streak, had 59 in the first half and 28 in the second. "It was a tale of two halves," Bonner said. "We weren't as sharp and didn't make as many shots in the second half, but we still played good defense, we rebounded the ball, kept us in it and made a few plays down the stretch to pull out the win." It was 36-all when the Spurs scored 12 consecutive points, including back-to-back 3-pointers from Matt Bonner. After Bradley snapped the string with a jumper, San Antonio rattled off another seven in a row to make it 55-38. Boston cut it to 11 points by the end of the half and got within four in the third, holding the Spurs to nine points in the quarter. It was two points early in the fourth, and San Antonio led 77-70 before Garnett hit a pair of free throws, Rondo stole the ball and fed it to Bradley for a layup and then Garnett hit a layup to make it a one-point game. Notes: Kentucky coach John Calipari was courtside, two days after winning the NCAA championship. ... Pierce was the Eastern Conference's player of the month for March. He averaged 22 points, 5.6 rebounds and 3.6 assists while leading the Celtics to a 12-5 record in the month. ... The Spurs were 5 for 8 from 3-point range in the second quarter and 0 for 8 in the third. ... All of San Antonio's points in the first quarter came in the paint.

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks hit road to face Blue Jackets

2-24_blue-jackets_matchup_nhl_chi_blank.jpg
NBC Sports Chicago

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks hit road to face Blue Jackets

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

1. One big reunion.

The Blackhawks will square off with the Blue Jackets for the first time since Oct. 7, which was the second game of the season. In that game, they won 5-1 led by Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Brandon Saad, each of whom scored a goal and added an assist.

Of course, that was the first game since the offseason trade that sent Artemi Panarin to Columbus and Saad back to Chicago, along with Anton Forsberg. Artem Anisimov, of course, was part of the original deal that sent Saad to Columbus in 2015, so there are a lot of emotional ties between the two teams.

Forsberg didn't get a chance to face the Blue Jackets in the first meeting, but there's a chance he will this time with it being the second of a back-to-back and Jean-Francois Berube getting the start in Friday's 3-1 win over San Jose.

2. Panarin and Kane bromance.

The emotions of a difficult break-up have probably died down by now, but Panarin and Kane gave us this moment at center ice during pregame warmups in their first game against each other and it hit Chicago right in the feels:

Panarin has spent enough time apart from Kane for people to realize how big of a star he is in his own right, leading the Blue Jackets in all three scoring categories: goals (17), assists (32) and points (49).

He hasn't gone more than three games this season without recording a point, and is looking to extend his point streak to four games, which would tie a season high.

3. Struggling Blue Jackets special teams.

The Blue Jackets got off to a great start but are barely clinging onto a wild card spot going into Saturday's game, and a big reason for that slide is their lack of success on special teams. Usually one can pick up the slack for the other, but they've been brutal in both departments.

The Blue Jackets are 0-for-9 on the power play in their past five games and are ranked 31st overall, converting on only 14.1 percent of their opportunities. They also have own the 27th-ranked penalty kill with a 76.3 percent success rate.

So if there's an area the Blackhawks can exploit, it's that. But, you know, still be mindful of that Russian winger's one-timer from the faceoff circle.

Jean-Francois Berube impressed in his first Blackhawks start

2-23_berube_schmaltz_usat.jpg
USA TODAY

Jean-Francois Berube impressed in his first Blackhawks start

Jean-Francois Berube got his first start of the season on Friday night, and it couldn't have gone any better.

The 26-year-old goaltender stopped 42 of 43 shots, a career-high for him in saves, in the Blackhawks' 3-1 win over the San Jose Sharks at the United Center.

Since Corey Crawford went down with a head injury last December, the Blackhawks have been searching for consistency in the crease. 

The pair of Anton Forsberg and Jeff Glass — who was assigned to Rockford on Feb. 15 and replaced with Berube — have had their ups and downs since then. With the Blackhawks out of the playoff picture, Berube had an opportunity showcase his skills, and he didn't disappoint.

"We were very happy with him," said coach Joel Quenneville. "I thought he did a great job. He was comfortable. I thought he was very patient in his net. Absorbing a lot of pucks with people in front of him was good. Closed some gaps and got … of the top of the paint. Rebound control was effective. Nice response from a long absence."

Berube's last — and only — appearance with the Blackhawks prior to Friday's game came on Dec. 6, relieving Forsberg in a game against the Washington Capitals. He recorded 12 saves of 14 shots. 

When Crawford got injured, Berube was the primary candidate to become the team's backup goaltender. The only problem? He was injured too, so the Blackhawks promoted Glass.

"I didn't want to sit and think about it," Berube said of his injury. "At the same time, it was great for Glasser. He was one of those guys that probably deserved it earlier in his career and he finally got his chance. Sometimes you need a guy to go down to have your chance. So I was mostly happy for him.

On Friday night, he got his chance.

"You always want to have a good impression for your first game," Berube said. "I know what I can do at this level, so it was just a matter of getting the opportunity to play and showing people what I can do."

Celebrating his 22nd birthday, Nick Schmaltz also had a goal and an assist. Artem Anisimov scored an empty-netter.

"It's a lot more fun coming to the rink when you're winning, enjoying each other, playing well as a team," Schmaltz said of the Blackhawks' win, which have now won three of their last four games. "Hopefully we can keep that good energy and bring it to the rink every day, and build off of that.

"You never know where this team can go, a lot of great players, lots of guys that have had a lot of success. Hopefully we can continue to put together solid efforts."