Bulls

Frankie O: Shots Anyone?

Frankie O: Shots Anyone?

By Frankie O
CSNChicago.com

As we all well know, shots are great because they get to the point. What that point is, however, can be debated. But always, and theres no debate, they should be served by your friendly bar professional!

Tic-Tac-Toe? While that game for kids is very predictable, well for some, so too should be the Bulls handling of Derrick Rose and his injured Sgt. Hulka. While there might be some animated discussions over what the injury is and how it was handled last weekend, he needs to sit until its healed. End of story. We all knew that players would get hurt and rushed back during this compressed NBA torture-test, I mean shortened season, but the Franchise cannot be put at long-term risk. I know Kobes getting shot-up to play, but not in his feet. (Ironic. Hes taking more shots, so he can take many more shots!) If the Bulls truly do have depth, they will be able to weather the storm for a while. Besides, arent the backup point guards averaging like 28 points a game in his absence?

Put up, or for the love of all that is good, SHUT UP! I think a lot of us have a strange fascination with Rex Ryan. (No, Im not talking to those good little foot soldiers out there!) Hard Knocks was a lot of fun, and humanized, through F-bombs, the guy who was perceived to be a blow-hard who didnt fall too far from the tree. At first, I thought his father was funny too, in a very twisted way- a no-nonsense leader of men that would not take crap from anyone. As his teams repeatedly under-achieved in the playoffs though, the act wore thin. Win or go home! Same with Rex. He seemed the perfect fit for New Yorks other team. The little doggie with the big bark. Well, the kennel has turned on the master. As always with the Ryans, it will be great theater and at least for me it wont be my team imploding this time!

ILL-ANNOYED Good thing the Illini had time to come back down to earth after the thrilling Brandon Paul Show against Ohio State . His 43 point effort in a 79-74 win on January 10th was a signature moment. As usual though, I take any Illinois success -didnt the football team start 6-0?- with a grain of salt before I can commit. But even I thought a trip to Penn State would not present much of a challenge for the 1st place squad. Think again! The only thing Illinois teams lack as they drive me crazy is the word PHILADELPHIA printed on the front of their jerseys!

PENN STATE SHAME Even a Penn State victory cant make me feel any better. I still feel a sense of loss, then a sense of guilt whenever I see anything about the university. The road show put on by University President Rodney Erickson has only added to that. I dont know that much about him, other than it takes a lot of guts to go in front of angry masses without answers they want to hear, but his lack of vision towards what has to be done is unsettling. Also unsettling was reading The New York Times interviews with 12 trustees, including board chairman Steve A. Garban, as they tried to explain their actions in the wake of the crisis. I still cant get past that no one knew anything. This whole episode is a blind-side hit, even as the local paper was reporting about the grand jury in MAY, and, by law, former president Graham Spanier was allowed to notify them of his own testimony before that grand jury previous to that. The trustees admitted that, according to the Times article, they had received a briefing on the grand jury from university council Cynthia Baldwin in May. What? Thats not exactly stuff you hear every day, or is it? Again, there were four different investigations into another accusation in 1998. Whos paying attention? Heres a quote from the article I find particularly disturbing: After finally reading the grand jury report almost 36 hours AFTER Sanduskys arrest chairman Garban regretted not reading it sooner according to the Times. It was like, Oh my God Steve, whereve you been? It floored me. Whereve you been, indeed?

OH NO YU DIINT! While baseball is better with one vision, that vision better include a lot of pitching, and I mean a lot! (A little defense and plate discipline make it better too!!) With that in mind I was a little surprised that the Cubs didnt make a play for Yu Darvish. I mean, he is 26 and all he would cost is cash. But that was the Boston way, not the Chicago one. Besides, what did Boston get for their 100 million spent on Dice-K? He was part of the 2007 title team in his first season, he won 15 games as the 3rd starter, and went 1-1 in the playoffs, albeit averaging 4.2 innings a start and just around 5 earned runs a game. That was an investment that you made when you were going all-in. Looked good in 2008 when he went 18-3, but since then his win totals have been 4-9-3 per season, leading to a public outcry about money misspent. I dont think Theo wants to go down that road again even if this kid is supposed to be better. Where have we heard that before?! Oh, thats right, with Koske Fukudome! Wasnt he supposed to be a cross between Ichiro and Matsui? Howd that work out? 48 million worth of disappointment, thats how. And to think Kenny Williams offered him 40! I still think he laughs about how lucky he was not to win that bidding war, at least when hes not thinking about Alex Rios or Adam Dunn. Kenny is better with the Cubans. And I wonder if well see the two sides of town bidding against each other once again. Cuban defectors Yoennis Cespedes and Jorge Soler are in the Dominican awaiting citizenship so they can be promptly bid on by MLB teams. Embargo? What embargo? If only we could do the same with cigars! Although, I swear Ive been sold Cubans in Dominican wrappers! (Kramer!) You know Kenny would love to have these guys, but can he afford to spend for them? And what better way to announce your arrival here, Theo, than with a signature move towards the future? This would be the type of move we should expect to be made on the Northside: Big-time investment in big-time young talent. (According to Fausto Carmona theyre 25 and 19 respectively. Oops, wait a minute.) Plus, if you can beat the White Sox while doing it, all the better. And since the draft door is closing due to the slotting system, this is an opportunity they cant pass up.

A COUPLE OF QUICKIES FOR THE ROAD

Is it me or should Rob Lowe stay away from social media?

Ryan Braun is getting the worst advice ever if he accepts his MVP award before being exonerated.

Its still tough to watch golf without Tiger.

A real Bears fan can NEVER root for the Packers. NEVER!

Is it me, or is there NO reaction to the changes being made at Wrigley?

No offense, but my approval at the exit of Jerry Angelo is gone if they did this just to promote Tim Ruskell. Seems to me that would be more of the same. To do something bold, you need to do something bold. Go the distance! Ease our pain!

In picks surely to be wrong: New England minus the 7 and San Fran minus the 2 .

Brady is locked in and I dont think that Baltimore has an answer for Gronk and Welker.

And I find it hard to believe that EVERYONE THAT I TALK TO is right about the Giants. I havent believed in the Niners all year, but I do now. (K.O.D.!!)

And finally, for the last time this season: TEBOW!!!!!

Bulls defense costs them late but showing 'competitive spirit' a step in right direction

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USA TODAY

Bulls defense costs them late but showing 'competitive spirit' a step in right direction

The Bulls defense is nowhere near where it needs to be, and it cost them dearly on Saturday night. But in a season that’s still about seeing progression both individually and collectively, the Bulls took a step in the right direction with their effort and what Fred Hoiberg called “competitive spirit.”

That won’t change the standings when they wake up Sunday morning, now facing an 0-2 hole in the early season. And while better effort and tougher defense helped them stage a second-half comeback they weren’t able to manage on Thursday, it was a defensive miscue that cost them the game.

Ish Smith split a double screen at the top of the key and sliced his way past Jabari Parker for a wide open go-ahead layup with 5.4 seconds left. Zach LaVine, who 20 seconds earlier had tied the game with the last of his 33 points, was unable to get a shot off after a timeout. Better than Thursday for 47 minutes and 50 seconds. But still costing them when it mattered most.

“We can’t give up a layup for the last play,” said LaVine, who was guarding Smith. “We just got to get our defense right. That’s why it’s really upsetting because we played so well, we came back but we can’t give up a layup. We at least have to make him take a tough one. That was as easy a layup as you can get. It’s really upsetting.”

Fred Hoiberg defended his decision to leave Parker in the game instead of inserting rookie Wendell Carter Jr. He opted to ride the group that helped the Bulls erase a fourth-quarter deficit when it appeared the Bulls were spiraling toward another double-digit loss.

But the Pistons were ready to find the weak link in the Bulls defense and expose it, like they did much of the fourth quarter while attacking Parker with Blake Griffin. As the screen was set Parker jumped outside to cut off Smith, who then made a cut inward and made a dash to the rim. Parker was a couple steps late, allowing the 5-foot-9 Smith to score with ease to give the Pistons their lead and the eventual game-winner.

Bobby Portis, whose shot wasn’t falling but played admirable defense against a talent like Griffin, was on the other side of the double screen and didn’t have a great view of the play. But he said allowing a layup with the game on the line is inexcusable.

“It’s a tough play but at the same time you don’t want to give up a layup at the end of the game,” he said. “You want to make him take a tough shot. That’s something we’ve got to work on, is late game execution on defense.”

But again, it’s about baby steps. The Bulls will want that final possession back, and Hoiberg might also want it back after leaving Parker in the game over Carter. But from where the Bulls were on Thursday, this was better. Granted, allowing 118 points and 18 3-pointers to the Pistons isn’t a recipe for success, it’s improvement nonetheless. Detroit got a career-high five triples from Griffin, four from Reggie Jackson (a career 32 percent 3-point shooter) and a pair from Stnaley Johnson (a career 29 percent 3-point shooter). The Bulls will be able to live with some of those makes.

On Thursday the Bulls trailed by just six early in the third quarter before the Sixers ripped off a 19-3 run to put the game out of reach. On Saturday the Pistons got out to a six-point lead on two different occasions, and then a seven-point lead with just 2:01 to play. All three times the Bulls came roaring back, using timely spots and clutch baskets from LaVine, Park and even Cameron Payne, who tied a career-high with 17 points.

Ultimately it wasn’t enough, but it’s a positive sign that they were able to battle back and show some fight defensively. They’ll certainly need that when they travel to Dallas to take on a Mavericks team that scored 140 points on the Jimmy Butler-less Timberwolves on Saturday. They should get Dunn back, which will help,  and now have a close contest under their belt on which to build. It didn’t result in a win, and the late-game cross-up was the cause, but the Bulls finished Saturday in a much better place than they were in on Thursday.

“Yeah but obviously we want to get the win. I feel like we fought hard,” Portis said. “Even when adversity hit everybody stuck together. We did our thing tonight. You want to win the game but I felt like we did our job tonight. We just gave up a bad play at the end of the game.”

Four takeaways: 'Vintage' Corey Crawford steals two points for Blackhawks

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AP

Four takeaways: 'Vintage' Corey Crawford steals two points for Blackhawks

COLUMBUS — Here are four takeaways from the Blackhawks' 4-1 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena on Saturday:

1. Corey Crawford steals the show

The Blackhawks had no business winning this game. They were being outshot 28-15 through two periods, committed four penalties and gave up 18 high-danger chances in the game. 

But Crawford bailed out his team like he often has done in the past, and was zoned in from the moment the puck dropped. He finished with 37 saves on 38 shots for a save percentage of .974, picking up his first win since Dec. 17, 2017.

"Yeah, I felt good," Crawford said. "I think everyone was playing hard, rebounds, taking away sticks. That was a great effort by everyone."

"He was standing on his head for us," Patrick Kane said. "As Q would say, that’s a goalie win for us."

Said coach Joel Quenneville: "That was vintage Crow."

2. Tic-tac-toe leads to go-ahead goal

The Blue Jackets were clearly the better team through two periods. The Blackhawks were fortunate to go into second intermission with the game still tied at 1-1.

The next goal was crucial, and they got it thanks to a give-and-go play by Brent Seabrook and Kane, who buried home a wide open net to give the Blackhawks a 2-1 lead with 4:14 left in regulation.

Was Kane expecting Seabrook to pass it back?

"No. Not a chance," Kane said laughing. "That’s his wheelhouse, coming right down there. He scores a lot of goals from that area. Saw it was like a 2-on-2, he was coming late, he jumped in the play on the first goal, did a great job, jumped in the play on that goal. Made a great pass. When I saw it come back, I just tried to stay patient, settle it down and make sure I hit the net, because I knew I had the whole open net."

3. Busy night for PK

The Blackhawks penalty kill was very busy. It was also on it's A-game, partly because their best penalty killer was Crawford.

The Blackhawks spent 6:31 of the first 40 minutes killing penalties, allowing 11 shots total on it. But most importantly, they killed off all four penalties.

"We had some tough clears, but I thought we did some good things," Quenneville said. "We withstood some extended PK zone time there and found a way to keep us in the game. Obviously that next goal was huge and that second period was a big part of them having so much zone time, keeping us in our end. We'll say, hey good job, but Crow was the best penalty killer tonight."

4. Catching up with Kane on Artemi Panarin

Kane and Panarin spent only two seasons together, but they brought Blackhawks fans out of their seats on a nightly basis and it was amazing to watch the instant on-ice chemistry they shared. And most of it was non-verbal, which made it even more impressive. They were always on the same wavelength.

"Sometimes it takes time to build some chemistry but that was one of those things where it was like, I don't want to say instant chemistry, but after one or two preseason games we kind of new that maybe something special was going to happen," Kane told NBC Sports Chicago. "I think he scored in his first game in the NHL, we had a really good game, we had the puck a lot, we sensed that this could be a fun way to play hockey."

Off the ice, Kane said Panarin would use Google translate on his phone to communicate while Kane would try using a Russian accent while saying English words.

The two of them got a chance to hang out for a little bit on Friday and Kane still keeps tabs on his former linemate.

"I always really enjoy watching him," Kane said. "If we have an off night or something, he's a really fun player to watch."