Bollig more than just a fighter


Bollig more than just a fighter

Brandon Bollig usually saves his big smiles for his fights.

But when the Blackhawks bruising forward scored the first goal of his NHL career, and in a playoff game, he was downright beaming.

Bollig obviously isnt here to score goals. But the rookie has been said to have a heck of a wrist shot, and he showed it for his first career tally in Game 2 on Saturday night. It was a great moment for Bollig, who played just over eight minutes and finished a plus-1.

It didnt happen in the regular season and the fact it came in the playoffs and at that time was an amazing feeling, said Bollig of that goal. Ive been hearing from everyone. Im so fresh in the NHL, so its great to see all the activity going on with my phone, people who are happy for me. Its been great.

Bolligs a fighter by nature. Its what brought him up here, not long after the Blackhawks traded big man John Scott to the New York Rangers. And when Bolligs fought, hes been a formidable opponent. Still, the fight options usually diminish during the postseason unless youre playing in the Pittsburgh-Philadelphia series. So his work in Game 2 was proof that Bollig doesnt have to be a one-dimensional player.

I hope so. Thats what Im trying to do, Bollig said about showing more of his game. Obviously what got me here was that enforcer-type role. But what will make me stick is bringing more than that.

Bryan Bickell, whos also known for his wrist shot, was happy for his road roommate.

That was a huge goal for us, and its nice to see that at this time of year, Bickell said. It shows he can play. He had a few (shifts) with us (on the checking line) and had more chances. Hes not just a tough guy. He has a scoring touch.

Bollig does have a shot, but hes still more known for his physical presence. And Bollig will still bring that big presence and be ready if called upon. The way this series is going, as the snark and intensity builds, Bollig could be smiling again for other reasons.

The longer it goes the more heated it gets and the more fun it gets, Bollig said about the series. For me, at least.

Instant reaction: 5 observations from the Bulls' season-opening loss

USA Today

Instant reaction: 5 observations from the Bulls' season-opening loss

CHARLOTTE, N.C. --- The Bulls opened their 54th season in franchise history with a 126-125 loss to the Hornets at Spectrum Center. Here are four observations:

The defense rested

Don’t let a comeback from 16 points down to take a 10-point, fourth-quarter lead fool you. The transition defense lacked. Strong closeouts were as common as Bigfoot sightings. The Bulls allowed a 15-1 run after rallying to take that 10-point, fourth-quarter lead.

The Hornets outscored the Bulls 69-27 from 3-point range. That included Hornets first-round pick P.J. Washington setting an NBA record with seven 3-pointers in his debut.

Overall, the Hornets shot 51.1 percent, including 52.3 percent from 3-point range. That’s a franchise record for 3-pointers by the Hornets.

Kris Dunn briefly changed the game

The starter-turned-reserve who has been saying all the right things placed his fingerprints all over the run that flipped the script.

Once down by 16 points, the Bulls rallied in the third quarter and then watched Dunn score seven points with two steals in an 11-1 run that pushed the Bulls ahead 115-105 with 7 minutes, 6 seconds left.

Dunn victimized Dwayne Bacon twice and aggressively finished at the rim at the other end, powering through contact on one traditional three-point play. Dunn has struggled to finish at the rim throughout his Bulls’ tenure.

Lauri Markkanen showed up

The third-year forward made all that preseason talk of him floating on the perimeter vanish with a variety of aggressive moves. With Michael Jordan looking on, Markkanen became the first Bull with at least 25 points and 10 rebounds in a season opener since His Airness dropped 53 points and 14 rebounds on Nov. 3, 1989.

More important than Markkanen’s 35 points and 17 rebounds was how he achieved them. He scored his first 26 points without making a 3-pointer. He consistently attacked the basket. He got downhill. He posted up. His rebounding in traffic underscored his aggressiveness.

Zach LaVine struggled

So dominant in preseason with 50 percent shooting, LaVine missed his first five shots and failed to score until 4 minutes, 32 seconds left in the first half when he converted a driving layup. He even chose to lay the ball in on a breakaway rather than dunk it, drawing boos from the crowd.

LaVine finished with 16 points and seven assists but curiously scored on a driving layup with the Bulls down three in the waning seconds.

Players vote Thaddeus Young, Otto Porter Jr. as Bulls captains

USA Today

Players vote Thaddeus Young, Otto Porter Jr. as Bulls captains

CHARLOTTE, N.C. --- The tribe has spoken. In a players' only vote administered by coach Jim Boylen, Thaddeus Young and Otto Porter Jr. will be captains for the Bulls.

"They’ve demonstrated an ability to put the team above themselves and the ability to communicate with their teammates in a positive way," Boylen said. "I haven’t felt they’re worried about getting liked. They’re worried about getting it right. Something we talk about here is leadership over likership. And I think they have a great feel of that."

Young, a 12-year veteran, long has commanded respect as the consummate teammate. Porter arrived from the Wizards last season and is in his seventh season.

"It means a lot," Porter said. "Just everything I’m doing is for the team, on and off the court. I gotta represent the team right. Make sure our guys are knowing they’re leaded in the right direction. I take that seriously."

Zach LaVine has voiced desire to assume more leadership and perhaps other players, particularly relatively new ones, earning the captain title over him will be instructional and motivational. In the meantime, look for LaVine to land on Boylen's leadership committee, which he established last season. The practice, which is used more in football than basketball, raised some eyebrows around the league for its unconventional usage.

"The leadership group has not disintegrated. It’ll be structured with the help of the captains. I felt the captains was the first step to that. Captains are very important to me in my career," Boylen said. "I’ve always thought it’s big to the leadership of your team. I’m thrilled with the two players that the team voted on having as our captains. We wanted training camp to go by. We wanted everybody to get a chance to be together and see how people operate. And so we voted on it."

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