Bulls

Nix fights through illness to contribute for Irish

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Nix fights through illness to contribute for Irish

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Louis Nix didn't think he was going to play on Saturday, seeing as he was fresh off two days in Notre Dame's infirmary with the flu bug that's been going around the Irish locker room. It caused George Atkinson to stay home for Notre Dame's trip to Norman, and against Pittsburgh, it nearly led Notre Dame's big nose tackle to stay on the sidelines.

Leading up to the Pittsburgh game, Nix was so sick he nearly slept through practice early in the week. When he got to practice, though, it became apparent to Notre Dame's coaching staff that he wasn't even close to 100 percent.

"I was feeling bad, like I didn't want to wake up," Nix said. "I was feeling real fatigued, like I didn't want to go to class but I had to, I just was feeling bad. My teachers got wind of it as well, they knew something was wrong with me -- if you don't see me smiling, laughing or joking around, something's wrong with me."

While Nix, a junior who didn't play as a freshman, is in second year on Notre Dame's defensive line, that experience didn't balance out the effects of missing practice. Nix tried to practice early in the week, but wasn't able to do much and wound up in the infirmary on Wednesday and Thursday.

"It's like going into a gunfight with a pair of scissors," Nix said of going into a game without practicing. "You're not prepared for that. I wasn't prepared, but I did my best and I just did what I usually do in a regular game. I read my keys, I did that to the best of my abilities and I guess I was right on some plays, wrong on some plays. But as long as you're going full speed, it eliminates all that."

Nix only played against Pitt because fellow defensive tackle Kona Schwenke suffered a shoulder injury on Saturday. He said his pregame routine didn't change much -- right down to eating his customary Cinnamon Toast Crunch -- but he wasn't himself thanks to the illness. Still, as Notre Dame's defense locked down Pittsburgh late in the game, Nix made his presence felt.

"When got in there, he played very well," coach Brian Kelly said. "He played really gutsy -- he was not feeling well. He would come over to the sideline, you could tell that he was not feeling very well. But it was just a gutsy performance from a kid that was sick all week."

Earlier in the year, when describing Notre Dame's motivation for stopping an opponent from scoring in the red zone, the always-quotable Nix said just wanting to get some water was behind that. With his illness on Saturday, that desire extended well beyond the 20-yard line.

"Yeah, I really wanted some water, I wanted to get some air," Nix said. "I wasn't feeling well, I just wanted to sit on the heated benches and just get some rest.

"But I'm happy we won, man."

Observations from Bulls-Lakers: Jabari's back in the rotation and Lakers fans get no tacos!

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USA TODAY

Observations from Bulls-Lakers: Jabari's back in the rotation and Lakers fans get no tacos!

The Bulls have now lost eight straight. The most recent defeat came in Los Angeles against a LeBron-less Lakers team, and there's not a whole lot to take from it. But we tried to find three items.

1. It was just one game, but Jabari Parker looks reinvigorated

Jabari Parker looks like he's back in the rotation to stay - or until he's traded - and while it was just a one-game sample size, he sure looks like he wants to remain there, too.

Parker's statline won't jump out in the box score but he made a few plays defensively and was arguably the Bulls' best offensive player. He hit a couple tough jumpers, made an important hustle play in the fourth quarter and finished with a jam. He wasn't outstanding defensively but played a few passing lanes and contested a few shots inside.

All isn't forgiven, and he isn't going to give Rudy Gobert a run for his money for Defensive Player of the Year, but it's about baby steps with Parker. Whether it's to help the Bulls progress as a young team, or to showcase his talents (we're using that word liberally) for a potential trade, these are seriously important games for Parker and the Bulls.

Part of his night came in that frantic stretch in the final minutes of the game (see below) and he finished with a team-high 18 points on 7 of 10 shooting, a pair of 3-pointers, 3 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals in just 17 minutes.

The better Parker plays, the more interest there is in him around the league. His contract still makes him a minimal asset and the Bulls can't expect to get much in return for him, but it beats him rotting on the end of the bench or taking minutes away from Markkanen or Bobby Portis.

2. Shaq Harrison rips out the heart of 21,000+ at Staples Center

If you're a true #AuthenticFan and stayed up through the end of the Bulls game you saw an incredible fourth quarter run in which the Bulls....denied Lakers fans free tacos.

Staples Center and the Lakers run a promotion where if the team wins and holds its opponent under 100 points, all fans in attendance get free tacos from Jack In The Box.

Fans looked to be in good shape as the Bulls had just 83 points with 2:19 remaining. From there, the Bulls' possessions went: 2 made free throws (85), layup (87), 3-pointer (90), dunk (92), one free throw (93), layup (95), 3-pointer (98). There were just 35 seconds remaining at that point, when Jabari Parker missed two free throws and gave the ball back to the Lakers.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope split a pair of free throws with 19.2 seconds left. And on the Bulls' presumably final possession, Shaq Harrison missed a 3-pointer, but Ryan Arcidiacono grabbed an offensive rebound and found Harrison on the left wing, who pump faked and drew a foul on Ivica Zubac.

Harrison made the first two free throws to give the Bulls 100 points and send fans home hungry. The entire sequence was amazing.

3. It doesn't get any easier for the Bulls

The Bulls have now lost eight straight games, four more than the second longest losing streak in the league (New York). And the road isn't getting any easier.

They'll finish this difficult West Coast road trip on Thursday against the Denver Nuggets, who were just embarrassed by the Warriors on their home floor. You can bet the West's top seed is going to come out and play with some serious passion. That spells trouble for the Bulls.

On Saturday the Bulls return home to face the Heat, who are all sorts of a mess right now. But that first game after a road trip is a seriously difficult one. That could easily be a loss.

Then the Zion Bowl occurs on Monday: Bulls-Cavs.

It's the Cam Payne revenge game and it's going to be glorious. The Bulls should win that one, but then again....the Cavaliers beat the Lakers in L.A. on Tuesday and the Bulls couldn't do that.

Joe Maddon states that Bryce Harper on Cubs "not going to happen"

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USA TODAY

Joe Maddon states that Bryce Harper on Cubs "not going to happen"

Per Jesse Rogers of ESPN, after being asked if the Cubs would sign mega-free agent Bryce Harper, Cubs skipper Joe Maddon replied “Not going to happen”.

This retort from Maddon falls in line with the stance that ownership has reportedly taken in the Harper sweepstakes.


The Cubs could no doubt use some help to boost their up-and-down offense but it looks like it won’t come in the form of Harper. As of now, the Phillies still sit as the front-runners for the mega-free agent after reports of a 5-hour meeting between the two side arose