Blackhawks

Turner blanketing Bulls' point guards

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Turner blanketing Bulls' point guards

PHILADELPHIA -- Its been obvious that since Derrick Rose went down in Game 1 of the Bulls-76ers first-round playoff series, the Bulls have struggled to get production out of the point-guard position. A casual observer might think that C.J. Watson and John Lucas III just dont measure up, but given that they combined to lead the Bulls to an 18-9 record during the regular season without Rose, that doesnt seem to be the case.

Instead, its been the defense of Evan Turner that has been a major deterrent to the two Bulls floor generals, as the 6-foot-7 swingman has smothered the two point guards with his length. While the Chicago native, a villain in his hometown after his comments prior to the series, has been up and down on the offensive end of the court, his defensive acumen has prevented the scoring-minded duo from making a major dent offensively, as well as hampering the Bulls overall offensive timing.

Sometimes I guard a point guard. I guard Rondo from the Celtics. Its not the first time Ive done it or anything like that. Ive done it a few times in college, so Im acclimated to it and Im probably better on the ball, Turner recently told CSNChicago.com. Every team has their advantages and disadvantages, and its up to the coaches to use to make sure they use their advantages as best as they can, and make sure they hide their disadvantages. Some games, you do a great job at it. Some games, you cant. Thats just how basketball is.

I think basketballs all about positioning and how fast you get to the spot, and execution, so defense is all about position and offense is all about execution and setting things up. Sometimes, its not always about athleticism, he continued to explain. Ive been able to get a little bit more opportunity to gain experience in certain key moments of the season and its helped a lot. Each game is extremely important to me, to my development, and I think Ive grown a lot and matured a lot.

The former No. 2 overall draft pick also discussed the fact that he believes his comments about how the Sixers were lucky to draw the Bulls in the first round instead of the Heat, which dispatched Philadelphia in last years postseason, were misconstrued.

I didnt care about any of that, to tell you the truth. What they were mad at me about was sensationalized by the media and thats the playoffs, he said. Its going to happen and Id much rather it happen to me than anybody else. I wasnt playing versus the fans. I was playing versus the Bulls, so that was it.

How Blackhawks' unlikely heroes on defense are providing boost in Oilers series

How Blackhawks' unlikely heroes on defense are providing boost in Oilers series

Jonathan Toews was dominant in Game 1's 6-4 win and he was back at it in Game 3. But, with the special teams woes the Oilers have been causing the Hawks in touting a power play that was No. 1 in the NHL at the time of the pause and a penalty kill that was No. 2, not to mention the top two points leaders in the league during the regular season (Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid), Chicago needed some unlikely heroes to emerge in the series.

Enter Blackhawks defensemen Connor Murphy, Olli Maatta and Slater Koekkoek.

With Game 3 tied 3-3 and just 1:16 remaining early Thursday morning, Murphy fired a wrist shot to put the Hawks ahead. It even appeared as if he scored the goal himself at first, but Toews was credited with his second goal of the game on the play and Murphy with the primary assist. The D-man finished Game 3 with a +/- rating of +1 in 21:55 of ice time.

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"Just a lucky bounce," a modest Murphy said of his play that helped the Blackhawks take a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five series, having the Oilers facing elimination in Friday's Game 4. "Didn’t throw (a) hard one at the net. I saw Tazer had good position. He was all alone in front, should be able to get a tip on it. ... Just those last minutes of games, every faceoff’s so huge, obviously that one being a big one to get a shot off."

Koekkoek got the primary assist on Matthew Highmore's first career postseason goal which tied the game 3-3 at 14:13 of the third.

Maatta scored the first goal of the game 9:14 into the opening frame off a pass from Patrick Kane and picked up the secondary assist on Highmore's goal. 

"He's got experience from playing in the playoffs, it's nice to have that, and he's done a great job defensively, killing penalties and he's calm back there," Blackhawks coach Jeremy Colliton said of Maatta, who won two Stanley Cups with the Pittsburgh Penguins before coming to the Hawks, after the game. "He's been able to chip in offensively, too, that's always a bonus. Our D as a whole are doing a great job of getting pucks through and getting it to the net, and we're going to need to continue to do that."

Related: Blackhawks overcome special teams woes, complete comeback in Game 3

Maatta has a two-game goal streak in the series and he and his D-partner, Koekkoek, were the only blueliners in Game 2's 6-3 loss with a positive +/- rating (+2). Maatta had one goal in Game 2 and Koekkoek a goal and an assist.

"I think we do a great job whenever we get in the zone, our forwards do a great job holding onto the puck. That makes them collapse a little bit. They do a good job of giving us the puck with a little more time. It hasn't been only me and Kooks," Maatta said of the Hawks blueline's contributions to the series. "It's been Haaner (Calvin de Haan) and Murph and Duncs (Duncan Keith) and Boqi (Adam Boqvist). They're getting pucks through and it feels like every time we get it to the net our forwards are in good position, battling for them, getting rebounds, getting tips. It makes it tough for them."

According to Murphy, with the way the Blackhawks' forwards and D have been effectively collaborating in the offensive zone, it's best for Chicago's defensemen to just keep firing pucks on net when they can.

"It’s always part of your game plan," Murphy said. "Especially our forwards draw good attention when they’re entering the zone, knowing that we’ve got a lot of firepower in them, a lot of skill and strength. They do a good job of drawing wingers down to them. It leaves a couple of open shots. Kooks and Olli have been hot lately and have really smart shots they get through, go in. That’s always a good plan."

Ozzie Guillén hates Nick Swisher, with his whole heart

Ozzie Guillén hates Nick Swisher, with his whole heart

If you didn't know, Ozzie Guillén has strong opinions and that includes former players he dealt with.

On the White Sox post-game show, host Chuck Garfien asked Guillén who he disliked more, Carlos Gomez or Nick Swisher.

"Oh my God, nobody can compare that with Nick Swisher," Guillén responded. "I hate Nick Swisher with my heart."

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Guillén declined to elaborate, but then added: "I think he hates me back, there's nothing wrong with that."

And finally Ozzie gave some kind of reason.

"I never talked to him, I was managing him, but I don't like the way his attitude was all fake. And I don't like fake people."

Then Chuck pointed out Swisher was only with the White Sox for one year and Guillén had thoughts about that to.

"It was one year too long," Guillén said.

Guillén doubled down and said he thinks others players would agree if they were honest, while clarifying he didn't hate him as a person and thought he was a good player.

The White Sox way wasn't the Swisher way, and there was friction.

Ozzie also admitted he might of misused Swisher.

"I played him center field and batting first or second, that guy has to be in right field batting tenth."


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