Blackhawks

Teague, Belinelli come through in the clutch for Bulls

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Teague, Belinelli come through in the clutch for Bulls

Who would you attribute the following typical Tom Thibodeau postgame press conference description to?

Staying ready to play, going out there, knowing what your job is, doing your job, getting it done, listed the Bulls head coach after his teams 83-82 win Saturday night over the Nets at the United Center. Providing whatever the team needed, playing well within the unit and they played well on both sides of the ball, played well defensively and offensively.

The most likely suspects are Luol Deng and Joakim Noah. But while that duo played well, it wasnt them, nor was it the power-forward tandem of Carlos Boozer and Taj Gibson.

With the injured starting backcourt of veterans Kirk Hinrich and Rip Hamilton sidelined, it wasnt them either. Instead, it was a 19-year-old who some expected to log more minutes in the D-League than the NBA this season (Marquis Teague) and a free-agent acquisition that seemed so out of sync early in the campaign that it appeared he might be nailed to the bench.

Marco Belinellis late-game heroics he scored 19 points on 6-of-9 shooting, with none bigger than his driving, surprisingly uncontested layup with 22.1 seconds remaining, as well as two free throws to seal the deal might be the headline, but as a six-year veteran, as fans in New Orleans, Toronto and Golden State can attest, hes capable of putting up big numbers, although the native of Italy hasnt done it on a consistent basis for his entire career.

But with his performance in the stead of the injured Hamilton, that might be changing, now that he firmly understands that defense is the way to Thibodeaus heart.

Everybody knows if you play defense, you stay on the court, so everybody wants to play defense, wants to be aggressive. When I was in New Orleans with Monty Williams, I think we played great defense, too. But right now, its like a championship team., he said afterwards. We want to be good, we want to do something big, so if you want to do something big, you need to play defense first.

Those are lofty aspirations in a season that began with Derrick Rose working his way back from ACL surgery, but after playing for a series of non-playoff contenders, you cant blame the guy. The smile on his face in the Bulls locker room, however, illustrated how much he starved to be on a competitive, winning squad.

Thats a great feeling. It was amazing. Im happy for me, but Im happy for everybody, he explained. It was a team win. We played good defense, we played good offense and the fans here are amazing, so we won the game for us and for our fans.

That was a good shot because I think Jo made a good screen for me, first of all, and the spacing on the court was good. I just tried to be aggressiveI was wide open to the basket, so those were good points, but I think most important was our defense. We played great defense in the last three, four minutes, so thats why we won the game, the candid Belinelli continued, before admitting to being wary of Brooklyns Gerald Wallace, who previously blocked two dunks from the weak side earlier in the evening. I was scared about that, to be honest. I was thinking to dunk a little bit, but I saw Gerald Wallace over there was coming, so I thought to float it for a layup with the left. It went in, so it was good.

Now, in the case of Teague, his play in clutch situations is close to becoming a pattern, as he was productive in crunch-time minutes during a November home loss to Boston, excelled as Thibodeau rode him down the stretch in Wednesdays road victory over Philadelphia in a hostile environment and continued to display that prodigal calmness in Saturdays contest.

That same serene demeanor he has except on the court, where the soft-spoken 19-year-old directs traffic firmly on most occasions is evident after games, too.

Its exciting. Its fun. It lets you know your coach has confidence in you and you want to go out there, and do whatever you can, whatever it takes to win, he said after the win, in which he contributed modest numbers of eight points and two assists, but only committed one turnover, again played big minutes in the fourth quarter and did a more than serviceable job defensively against Brooklyn All-Star point guard Deron Williams. My confidence is where its been from Day 1. Im always confident in my game, confident in my abilities, so I stayed the same, whether I play 20 minutes or zero minutes.

I was just trying to contain Williams, just keep him in front of me. Its hard to keep a player like that from scoring. I just wanted to make it as tough on him as possible, contest his shots, continued the Indianapolis native and point guard for last seasons University of Kentucky title team. I was just trying to take whatever the defense gave me, creating for one of my teammates or knock down the shot for myself and I had few silly fouls that I shouldnt have made. Ive got to do better and learn from it.

I see these guys his teammates every day in practice, I know what they like to do, I know their strengths and where to give them ball where theyre going to be most effective, he went on to say. It felt good. It was a lot of energy in the building. It just helped us, motivated us to play even harder than we were. It just felt good to get the win.

Besides the aforementioned questionable shooting foul on Williams They called it, so I guess its a foul, he said about the play and not taking a wide-open jumper as the shot clock ran down (he was looking for Luol Deng, who was tying his shoe at the time), its hard to find much fault with how he played, especially considering the competition.

The same goes for Belinelli, making the Bulls recent success even more remarkable, given that both players didnt look like theyd be big reasons for the team overcoming Roses extended absence.

But thats how the Bulls have prospered, not just as of late, but C.J. Watson being back in town was a helpful reminder over the past two seasons. It just shows how much Belinelli and Teague have not only bought in, but fit into the teams beating-the-odds, survival-at-all-costs, all-hands-on-deck mentality, a way of life here at the United Center, fostered at the Berto Center and that travels well to wherever the Bulls play, as evidenced by their early-season record, which is surprising to some, but not to anybody wearing that uniform.

Blackhawks 2018 NHL Draft capsules: Scouting reports and analysis

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USA TODAY

Blackhawks 2018 NHL Draft capsules: Scouting reports and analysis

A recap of the Blackhawks' selections in the 2018 NHL Draft, and their scouting reports, including analysis from Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman and VP of amateur scouting Mark Kelley:

Round 1, pick 8: Adam Boqvist, defenseman

Round 1, pick 27: Nicolas Beaudin, defenseman

Round 3, pick 69: Jake Wise, center

— What you need to know: Wise, 18, scored 11 goals and dished out 32 assists in 38 games for the United States National Team Development Program last season. He also scored a goal and added four assists in seven games during the Under-18 World Junior Championship. Wise will play at Boston University next year.

— Scouting report: Wise is 5-foot-10, 194 pounds and is known to be an excellent skater. He's also responsible in his own end, which is a trait the Blackhawks always appreciate in their younger players.

— Player reaction: "I thought the Hawks were probably one of the teams I was going to go to for the longest time. I don’t know why, but I always had a gut feeling. And to go to the Blackhawks, it’s unbelievable. Unbelievable organization and I couldn’t be happier."

— Analysis from Kelley: "He's just a really smart two-way centerman. He had a great start to the season and then he missed some time and it was ironic when he came back, it was the same time Jack Hughes joined the team and all of a sudden they had a No. 1 and No. 2 center and the team really took off."

Round 3, pick 74: Niklas Nordgren, forward

— What you need to know: Nordgren, 18, compiled 42 points (13 goals, 29 assists) in 28 games for Jr. A SM-liiga in the HIFK U20 league, and produced at a point-per-game rate in the playoffs with six goals and four assists in 10 games. He also reigstered 10 points (eight goals, two assists) in seven games for Finland during the Under-18 World Junior Championship. He plans to return to Finland next season.

— Scouting report: Nordgren is an undersized winger (5-foot-9, 170 pounds) but has the ability to score and can play in any situation.

— Player reaction: "Pretty exciting to get [drafted by the] Blackhawks, one of my favorites teams in the NHL."

— Analysis from Kelley: "He has great instincts around the net, he has a really good stick in traffic. I think if you look and track his goals you'll find they're goal scorers goals. He gets in the dirt, he's not afraid and he's just got a really great release."

Round 4, pick 120: Philipp Kurashev, forward

— What you need to know: Kurashev, 18, recorded 60 points (19 goals, 41 assists) in 59 games for the Québec Remparts of the QMJHL, and added one goal and four assists in six postseason contests. He also scored a goal and added two assists in five games with Switzerland during the Under-20 World Junior Championship.

— Scouting report: Kurashev is 6-foot-0, 190 pounds and is known to be a smooth skater who can blow past defenders during odd-man rushes. There are concerns about his effort level, but the package is there and that's what attracted the Blackhawks.

— Analysis from Kelley: "Really smart, skilled centerman but he's also really strong on his skates. We thought he had a really good year this year. We think he's better acclimated, we expect him to have a real good year this year coming back."

Round 5, pick 139: Mikael Hakkarainen, forward

— What you need to know: Hakkarainen, 20, accumulated 46 points (15 goals, 31 assists) in 36 games for the Muskegon Lumberjacks of the USHL last season, and added an assist in three playoff games. He was a member of the Chicago Steel for 16 games in 2016-17, where he recorded four assists. Hakkarainen will play at Providence College for the 2018-19 season.

— Scouting report: Hakkarainen is 6-foot-1, 194 pounds and can be an impact-type player and contribute on special teams.

— Analysis from Kelley: "I think what attracted us to him was, when you went and saw him play, he got on the scoresheet but even if he wasn't on the scoresheet you noticed him play. He played hard. 200-foot."

Round 6, pick 162: Alexis Gravel, goaltender

— What you need to know: Gravel, 18, had a 3.38 goals against average and .890 save percentage in 39 games with Halifax Mooseheads last season, and a 2.70 GAA and .917 save percentage in eight playoff games. 

— Scouting report: Gravel is 6-foot-3, 223 pounds, which immediately stand out because it's the kind of size and big frame the Blackhawks like in their goaltenders. His strengths include his quick glove hand and rebound control.

— Player reaction: "It's amazing. It's probably the best day of my life. I just look down and there's a Chicago Blackhawks logo on the jersey. It feels amazing. It's unreal."

— Analysis from Bowman: "Alexis is a guy we think has a lot of potential. And with goalies you have to be patient with them, they take a little bit longer [to develop]. But he’s got a lot of ability, he’s got the size to be an NHL goalie, and I think that’s part of it. We’re happy that he was there and we were able to get him."

— Analysis from Kelley: "He's going to have a great situation. They're going to host the Memorial Cup next year. We're expecting a peak year out of him. He's been a good goaltender. This year we saw him play some really good games. He's in a good spot. We like the opportunity for him."

Round 7, pick 193: Josiah Slavin, forward

— What you need to know: Slavin, 19, had 42 points (23 goals, 19 assists) in 60 games last season with the Lincoln Stars of the USHL, and two goals and one assist in seven playoff games. He is expected to return to the USHL before going to Colorado College in 2019-20. He is the younger brother of Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Jaccob Slavin.

— Analysis from Kelley: "We like the project there. We think where he is on the curve, he's gonna play another year and then go to Colorado College. We just like the whole project."

62 Days to Kickoff: Lincoln Park

62 Days to Kickoff: Lincoln Park

NBCSportsChicago.com preps reporter "Edgy" Tim O’Halloran spotlights 100 high school football teams in 100 days. The first 75 team profiles will focus on teams making strides across Chicagoland and elsewhere in the state. Starting July 30, we’ll unveil the @NBCSPrepsTop 25 Power Rankings, leading up to kickoff on Friday, Aug. 24.

 

School: Lincoln Park

Head coach: Vince DeFrancesco

Assistant coaches: Steve Karoff, Grant Magnuson, Tyler Clark, Brandon Randolph, Alex Green and Tom Dellota

How they fared in 2017: 8-2 (7-0 Chicago Public League Chicago Big Shoulders Conference). Lincoln Park made the Class 7A state football playoff field. The Lions lost to Alton in opening round action. 

2018 Regular Season Schedule:

Aug. 24 @ IWT Speer

Sept. 1 vs. Kenwood

Sept. 7 vs. Hubbard

Sept. 14 @ Phillips

Sept. 21 vs. Lane Tech

Sept. 28 vs. Taft

Oct. 5 vs. Westinghouse

Oct. 12 vs. Raby

Oct. 19 vs. Morgan Park

Biggest storyline: The Lions' new conference. Can Lincoln Park keep its winning ways when they start playing in the CPL/Illini Land of Lincoln this fall?

Names to watch this season: RB/LB Dane Romberger and DB Jalen Jenkins

Biggest holes to fill: The Lions will need to reload on the offensive side of the football this summer with just three starters back this fall.

EDGY's Early Take: Coach Vince DeFrancesco's Lions have been on a nice roll, getting to the IHSA state playoffs in each of his past three seasons (four straight for the school overall). However, the price for the Lions' success is extremely high. The CPL Illini Land of Lincoln is loaded. The schedule includes the likes of Kenwood, Hubbard, Phillips, Raby and Morgan Park...just to name a few. If the Lions can develop their less experienced offense this summer, all the better for them.