Bulls bounce back, top Timberwolves


Bulls bounce back, top Timberwolves

After Thursdays disappointing home loss at the hands of Oklahoma City, the Bulls (4-2) took out their frustrations on Saturdays visitor to the United Center, the Timberwolves (4-2). While the 87-80 victory was by no means an offensive clinic, the Bulls blend of defense (Minnesota shot 38.8 percent from the floor), scoring from unexpected sources (the reserve back court of Nate Robinson and Marco Belinelli scored 17 and 11 points off the bench, respectively) and perseverance (starting point guard Kirk Hinrich was injured during the contest) were significant factors in the win.
Led by the energetic play of the boisterous Joakim Noah (17 points, seven rebounds, four blocked shots), who showcased his improved offensive repertoire by sandwiching a 15-foot jumper between two dunks, the Bulls took a slim lead in the early stages of the contest.
The battle between Noah and rugged Timberwolves center Nikola Pekovic (18 points, eight rebounds) was a study in contrasts, but with Minnesota missing veteran Brandon Roythe shooting guard sat out the contest with soreness in his right knee; the visitors were already missing young stars Ricky Rubio and All-Star Kevin Love, also due to injurythe hosts theoretically had their guests outmanned.
Luol Dengs (16 points, seven rebounds, four assists) strong start to the season also continued, manifesting itself in some early offense, as did his running mate on the wing, Rip Hamilton, who was aggressive from the outset.
But behind Pekovicwhose job became easier after Noah exited with a left-knee laceration, though he would returnand his 10 points in the frame, the Timberwolves kept things close and at the conclusion of the first quarter, the Bulls held a narrow 20-19 advantage.
At the beginning of the second period, the Bulls seemingly couldnt get anything, as there were several frustrating in-and-out misses, which Minnesota capitalized upon in the close-knit affair. However, Robinson (18 points) single-handedly picked up the energy inside the United Centera steal and fast-break layup, then a contested three-pointer gave him a personal 5-0 runto take back the lead for the home team and provide them with some breathing room, along with support from fellow reserve Taj Gibson (eight points, eight rebounds) and Noah, who returned to the contest.
But just as quickly, Robinson had a spate of turnovers that allowed Minnesota to get back into the game, prompting a Bulls timeout, after which the visitors continued to make their push and eventually regained the lead. At the intermission, the Bulls trailed, 41-40, and Hinrich leaving the game late in the half with a strained right hip didnt help matters.
After the break, the Bulls emphasized their transition game, but even pushing the tempo baskets were hard to come by, aside from the virtuoso contributions of Robinson, who started the third quarter in place of the injured Hinrich, and continued to be the Bulls offensive catalyst. Minnesota responded with an outside-shooting barrage, keyed by the starting back court of Luke Ridnour and Chase Budinger, and despite the Hamilton and Noah increasing their offensive productivity, the contest remained close.
While the flow of the Bulls offense left something to be desired, Robinson was effective as a scorer and eventually, the likes of Noah, Hamilton and Deng also got in the mix. At the end of the period, rookie Marquis Teague was inserted into the contest and promptly scored the first regular-season points of his young NBA careerimmediately followed by committing a foul with 0.3 seconds remaining in the quartergiving the Bulls a 63-59 lead heading into the final stanza.
Belinelli (11 points, 3-of-4 three-point shooting), considered a mild disappointment early in his tenure with the Bulls, knocked down a trio of triples early in the period, living up to his billing as a sharpshooter and inspiring both a subdued United Center audience and his teammates. Noah, for instance, was a major presence on defense, blocking a pair of Timberwolves shots in a single possession, while Deng, in a subtly fierce battle with the similarly versatile Andrei Kirilenko (11 points, 12 rebounds, seven assists), found ways to score in transition and on the offensive glass.
As the Bulls defense clamped down to make scoring a premium, the hosts maintained a comfortable winning margin as the game entered its stretch run, with interior shot-blocking of Noah and Gibson being major deterrents to Minnesotas attack and timely scoring ensuring no last-minute comeback would be made, despite the Timberwolves valiant efforts. As usual, it wasnt prettyand through the three games in the preseason and regular slate these two teams has played, it rarely has beenbut for the Bulls, it got the job done, through both unconventional and expected measures.

Summer of Sammy: Sosa's 10th, 11th homers in 1998

Summer of Sammy: Sosa's 10th, 11th homers in 1998

It's the 20th anniversary of the Summer of Sammy, when Sosa and Mark McGwire went toe-to-toe in one of the most exciting seasons in American sports history chasing after Roger Maris' home run record. All year, we're going to go homer-by-homer on Sosa's 66 longballs, with highlights and info about each. Enjoy.

Sosa is heating up, but even a red-hot Sosa doesn't automatically equal wins for the Cubs.

Slammin' Sammy notched his first multi-homer game in 1998 in a 9-5 loss to Kevin Millwood and the Atlanta Braves. Sosa drove in 4 of the Cubs' 5 runs on a solo shot in the 4th inning and a three-run shot in the 8th. 

Sosa tallied 830 feet of homers in the game, with his first blast going 410 feet and the second shot measured at 420 feet.

The big game bumped Sosa's overall season slash line to .337/.411/.551 (.962 OPS) with 11 homers and 35 RBI.

Fun fact: Mickey Morandini hit second for the Cubs in this game and went 4-for-4, but somehow only scored one run despite hitting just in front of Sosa all game. That's because Morandini was caught stealing to end the 3rd inning, leaving Sosa to lead off the 4th inning with a solo blast.

Steve Kerr told a Michael Jordan Bulls story to give advice to Kevin Durant

Steve Kerr told a Michael Jordan Bulls story to give advice to Kevin Durant

Anyone who lived through the Michael Jordan Bulls remembers those games when he was putting up tons of points, but the Bulls were still struggling overall.

Steve Kerr referenced one of those games to give advice to Kevin Durant during Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals. The TNT broadcast caught the conversation and aired it late in the third quarter.

"When MJ was with the Bulls, we had a playoff game," Kerr began the story. "He kept trying to score and he was scoring, but we weren't getting anything going. Phil Jackson said 'Who's open?' He said, 'John Paxson.'"

Paxson famously hit the game-winning shot in Game 6 of the 1993 NBA Finals to clinch the series. Kerr, who later hit his own championship-winning shot on an assist from Jordan in 1997, was trying to get to get his teammates involved.

"I want to trust your teammates early," Kerr said. "What you're doing is you're getting to the rim and then you're trying to hit him. I want you to trust the first guy and then move. Still attack, still look to score, but trust these guys, OK?"

Watch the video above to see the interaction.

Durant scored 29 points in Game 5 to lead the Warriors, but Houston took a 3-2 series lead with a 98-94 win.