Blackhawks

A crosstown letdown for Cubs, Dempster

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A crosstown letdown for Cubs, Dempster

You could hear the jet engines during the flyover. The visiting dignitaries from the NATO summit included Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. It was the White Sox, the entire city and a national television audience at home watching.

The Cubs went quietly on Saturday night at Wrigley Field, losing 7-4 in a game that wasnt nearly that close. White Sox left-hander John Danks took a perfect game into the fifth inning, and the Cubs saved all their offense until the ninth.

A loss is a loss, Ryan Dempster said afterward. I dont really care whos watching. I dont like losing anytime. So if there was one person in the stands, or theres 40,000 people, to me, it means the same thing.

It just sucks to lose a ballgame.

Dempster is now winless in his last 16 starts, a streak that dates back to Aug. 16 of last year, and one of the few big names left on this team now that Kerry Wood has retired.

Dempster (0-2, 2.28) gave up back-to-back shots to Dayan Viciedo and A.J. Pierzynski in the third, and allowed four runs in six innings, for a team thats 10 games under .500 and doesnt have that kind of margin for error. These will be the growing pains.

I think theres just a tremendous thing here on the North Side with this staff and this management (team), Wood said. Im excited to watch for the future. (These) young guys here, the Barneys and Castros and Samardzijas and Russells and Campanas are starting the journey Im ending today. I look forward to the excitement of watching these guys grow and learn this game and ultimately bring a championship to this city that deserves it.

The Cubs roster is still in flux, with Welington Castillo dealing with a knee injury, Geovany Soto recovering from knee surgery and Koyie Hill coming over from the Cincinnati Reds organization for cash. There was Blake Parker leaving the game with a hamstring injury and Randy Wells coming up from Triple-A Iowa to take Woods spot in the bullpen.

Were running out of lockers, Dempster said. Thats probably the biggest thing. Maybe we should hurry up and dress up the rookies here pretty soon because we have a lot of em.

Its unfortunate. We got a lot of guys getting hurt not major things, but little things. We just got to find a way to battle through that and go out there and win ballgames.

Brandon Saad joins the Blackhawks All-Decade Team

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USA Today

Brandon Saad joins the Blackhawks All-Decade Team

Throughout the 2019-20 season, NBC Sports Chicago will be unveiling its Blackhawks All-Decade Team. The roster will feature the 14 forwards, 7 defensemen and two goaltenders that made the biggest impact on the franchise from the 2010 through 2019 seasons.

Man Child. The Saad Father. Baby Hoss. Kneel Before Saad.

You’ve got to have a pretty good start to your career to get nicknames and phrases like that coined after you as a 20-something breaking into the league. What Brandon Saad did in the first few seasons of his NHL career certainly qualifies.

After being selected in the second round of the NHL draft in 2011 (a steal, by all accounts), Saad eventually worked his way into the Blackhawks’ lineup and became a key contributor on two Stanley Cup teams…and did so before the age of 23.

Saad has spent parts of seven seasons in Chicago, notching 95 goals and 211 points in 374 games as a member of the Blackhawks. But his presence has been felt even more so in the playoffs. In 67 playoff games with the Hawks, Saad has 15 goals and 19 assists with a plus-16 rating. And if it weren’t for a tough-luck loss in Game 7 against the Kings in the 2014 Western Conference Finals, he might have had his name in consideration for a Conn Smythe Trophy, too.

Unfortunately for Saad, his career might forever be linked to Artemi Panarin’s because of the 2017 trade that brought the power-forward back to Chicago. But for as good as the Panarin/Artem Anisimov/Patrick Kane line was for a while – and that line doesn’t happen without Anisimov coming to Chicago in the first Saad trade – there might not have been a better two-way line in the NHL at one point than Saad/Jonathan Toews/Marian Hossa.

Whatever nickname you choose for him, Brandon Saad earns a spot on our Blackhawks All-Decade team as the left winger on the third line. 

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Instant reaction: 4 takeaways from Bulls' preseason victory over Hawks

Instant reaction: 4 takeaways from Bulls' preseason victory over Hawks

The Bulls concluded their preseason schedule at 2-3 following Thursday’s 111-93 win over a Hawks team playing their regulars limited minutes at the United Center. Here are four takeaways:

Coby White is a baller

Those aren’t our words. They’re Jim Boylen’s.

“We’re developing Coby White as a basketball player,” Boylen said Wednesday. “We’re not going to put him in this situation where he’s a 1, a 2 or a 3. He’s a baller.”

White certainly was with a dominant second half in which he scored 21 of his 29 points and finished 6-for-8 from 3-point range.

At this point, it doesn’t matter if White ever passes the ball. This is the all-time leading scorer in North Carolina high school history and someone who even North Carolina coach Roy Williams didn’t expect to turn pro after one season.

White is clearly more a scorer than point guard at this point. And that’s fine. Give the Bulls credit for recognizing that and letting him play to his strengths rather than force-feed him.

Welcome to the preseason, Wendell Carter Jr.

With his status unknown until shortly before tipoff because he tweaked his surgically repaired left thumb, the second-year big man started and endured a slow first stretch in which he looked winded. Then, Carter made his presence known in a big way.

He blocked Brandon Goodwin’s driving layup and sprinted the floor to dunk off a Kris Dunn dish. He drew a taunting technical for dunking all over Bruno Fernando. He blocked Alex Len’s dunk attempt. He made a nice touch pass to Otto Porter Jr. for a basket.

In short, he showed why the organization remains so high on him. And in the process, he almost made people forget the sprained ankle, bruised tailbone and now tweaked thumb he has had this preseason.

Almost.

Carter still needs to prove he can stay on the floor. As coach Jim Boylen often says, reliability and availability are skills. But it’s a good sign for Carter to finish the preseason on a high note with eight points, eight rebounds and three blocks.

Kris Dunn dominated defensively before enduring foul trouble

The guard continues to say all the right things about his reserve role, embracing his identity as a disruptive defensive force.

Whether it was motivation to do right by that or memories of Trae Young scoring 49 points in these teams’ epic, four-overtime thriller from last season, Young had a first-half stretch in which he was all over the court. He had three steals and two assists before sitting with three fouls.

“I’m a professional, as we all are in here,” Dunn said. “We have to approach it in a professional manner. I’m with the Bulls. I’m going to play hard each game and each practice and try to help the team win.”

Dunn’s three quick fouls isn’t an issue either. He’s now in a role where he can afford to be that aggressive defensively.

Jim Boylen used a regular-season rotation

Carter started alongside Tomas Satoransky, Zach LaVine, Otto Porter Jr. and Lauri Markkanen. Dunn played with a second unit that featured Coby White, Ryan Arcidiacono, Thad Young and Luke Kornet.

That means, at least for now, Denzel Valentine is the odd man out. Chandler Hutchison and Shaq Harrison have yet to play this preseason because of hamstring injuries. So perhaps the rotation will change.

But Boylen said pregame that he planned to use the final preseason game as a dress rehearsal for the regular season. Along those lines, the Bulls kept their newfound approach of launching 3-pointers intact. They took 46 overall, including Zach LaVine’s deep heave that beat the halftime buzzer as part of his 23 points in 25 minutes. LaVine continued to score almost effortlessly.