Bulls

Blackhawks view latest cancellations as a 'scare tactic'

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Blackhawks view latest cancellations as a 'scare tactic'

For players, nothing the NHL does is even a shock anymore. Not even canceling a months worth of games, as the league did on Friday afternoon, raises eyebrows anymore.

Theyre still going down that road that theyre going to keep exercising the power they have to try and lock us out, to try and cancel games to try and sway us their way, said Jonathan Toews prior to the Champs for Charity game at Allstate Arena on Friday night. Well see what happens in the next little while.

What happened Friday was, what Blackhawks defenseman and player representative Steve Montador called a dagger in the heart of all hockey fans and players.

We could come to deal and play some games in November, though unlikely at this point. So for the league to cancel that many is a tactic in itself, Montador said. These actions do nothing other them to strengthen our resolve and motivate the players to do whats right or us and the sport.

Patrick Kane called the cancellations a scare tactic.

We knew it was coming, said Kane, who will be heading to Switzerland on Sunday to play hockey there for a bit. Still, he holds out hope for a new deal. I know with basketball last year, it started on Christmas Day and had a successful season. We want to be on the ice playing. This (charity game) proves that.

The question is, what happens next?

It seems the two sides have talked to the media more than theyve talked to each other in recent weeks. The statements released by both on failed negotiations are adding up, as are the number of canceled games. And events such as the Winter Classic, which has become incredibly popular, could be on the chopping block next.

Theyve done all this so far because they can, Toews said. It doesnt matter how much we try to reason with them. I saw it in the meeting room last week. We worked very hard coming up with those three proposals. They dont have courtesy to look at it or discuss them. Its been proven over time theyre on a timeline to see how much they can squeeze us for. Were just waiting to see what happens next. Thats why were staying patient. Thats all we can do.

On Friday night Blackhawks players, as well as others forgot about the lockout for a little while for the Champs for Charity game. It was a chance for the fans to see their favorites on the ice again, albeit briefly. Toews said the players understand the fans frustration.

Were right there with them. Its not fair to (the fans) and a lot of people who love the game, love coming to watch their favorite payers and team play, no matter what city theyre in, Toews said. You can have (the NHL and NHLPA) arguing until theyre blue in the face. As players we feel we have a lot of reason on our side. But at the end of the day the facts dont matter. (The fans) are frustrated, so you feel for them.

Lineup changes could be on the way for Bulls: 'It's still up in the air'

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USA TODAY

Lineup changes could be on the way for Bulls: 'It's still up in the air'

It’s tough to call the position battle for the backup point guard spot on a Lottery-bound team important, but here we are two days into the Bulls’ season.

It won’t move the needle in NBA circles and Dwane Casey won’t be putting in additional time getting ready for Saturday’s game, but there appears to be potential for change in Fred Hoiberg’s rotation.

One day after an embarrassing display in a season-opening loss to the Sixers, Hoiberg said the Bulls have yet to make a decision on a potential lineup change for tomorrow’s affair against the Detroit Pistons. Kris Dunn, who missed Thursday’s game for the birth of his first child, was not at practice on Friday and may or may not be available for the home opener.

That could prompt changes after Cam Payne, inserted into the starting lineup, was largely ineffective, failing to score on 0 of 4 shooting in 21 minutes.

“We’re gonna see how practice goes today and then make that decision,” Hoiberg said. “It’s still up in the air on what we’re gonna do.”

The loss certainly can’t fall on just Payne, as the Bulls went lifeless after a 41-point first quarter that had them in the lead after 12 minutes. From there the Sixers outscored them by 29 in the second and third quarters, facing little resistance from a Bulls defense that doesn’t appear to have made much improvement from a year ago, Dunn or no Dunn.

Philadelphia shot 48 percent from the field, scored 20 fast-break points and 46 points in the paint, cruising to 102 points through three quarters before reserves finished things off. Even with Dunn the defensive prospects don’t look good, meaning Hoiberg might have to make changes to ignite the offense that scored just 35 points in those second and third quarters.

The Bulls could go a few different routes. Zach LaVine’s hot hand in the first quarter – 15 points on 6 of 7 shooting – saw the ball in his hands, and he even added two assists.

“It's a collective effort. You've got to have all five guys out there trying to play the right way and again, we found a recipe with Zach, especially in that first unit, where we let him bring the ball up the floor,” Hoiberg said. “We ran a couple actions where he was the facilitator and we put Cam in the corner. So a lot of that will be dictated by who has it going on a particular night and last night it happened to be Zach, so he was the one that was doing a lot of facilitating.”

Past a point guard-less lineup, the backups to Payne – Ryan Arcidiacono and Tyler Ulis – could also see extended minutes going forward.

Arcidiacono had 8 points and 8 assists in 28 minutes, though the majority of those stats came in garbage time. Still, he hit a pair of 3-pointers and didn’t turn the ball over, and five of his assists resulted in makes at the rim.

Ulis, acquired off waivers last week, could inject some life into the second unit.

“He’s ready. He’s done a good job in practice,” Hoiberg said. “We’ve gone through the system with him as far as what we expect and if there’s a point in the game where he can go out there and we feel he can help us, I’m confident that he’ll go out there and give us good effort.”

The point guard rotation isn’t the key to unlocking the Bulls as a lockdown defensive team, or no longer suffering the offensive dry spells that happened Thursday. But in a season that’s already showing signs of adversity, shaking up the lineup might be Hoiberg’s only chance.

The Way We Hear It: Khalil Mack will probably play after all

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USA Today

The Way We Hear It: Khalil Mack will probably play after all

The Bears are back in Chicago and Tom Brady and the Patriots are in town! With a week of practice wrapping up today, here's what's been happening in the lead up to Sunday's Bears-Pats matchup: