From Comcast SportsNetCHICAGO (AP) -- Tom Thibodeau sent a strong wake-up message to his team at a heated shootaround Monday morning. He got the response he was looking for.Carlos Boozer had 20 points and 13 rebounds, Luol Deng scored 18 points and the Chicago Bulls held Atlanta to a franchise-low 20 points in the first half of a 97-58 victory over the Hawks on Monday night."Early this morning, Tibs was going crazy on us at shootaround. Just waking up early in the morning and having Tibs just screaming at you and screaming at you and screaming at you," center Joakim Noah said, "we didn't want that to happen to us again."We were ready for this one. We had the right mindset, played with the edge and we rebounded the ball really well. Everyone came in and stepped up."Reserve forward Mike Scott scored 10 points to lead Atlanta as none of the starters reached double figures. Josh Smith and Kyle Korver had nine points each.Jeff Teague had a layup with 7.9 seconds left to prevent the Hawks' lowest scoring total in franchise history.Atlanta has lost five straight on the road and six of seven overall."This was very, very embarrassing," Hawks coach Larry Drew said. "From where we were as a team to where we're at right now, we have lost all sense of team on both ends of the floor. And why that's happened I really can't put my finger on it."The Bulls held the Hawks to just five points in the second quarter and led 48-20 at the break. Ivan Johnson had a basket for the Hawks with 2:54 left in the first quarter, and Atlanta did not score again until Al Horford's tip with 5:15 left in the second. The Hawks missed 17 consecutive shots during the drought while getting outscored 14-0.They finished the 2 for 21 from the field in the second quarter, with Smith making a free throw and a jumper for Atlanta's other points. The Hawks shot 20.5 percent on 8-of-39 shooting in the first half. Josh Smith was 3 for 10 and Horford 2 for 8 in the opening two periods."The disturbing thing is the effort part. I shouldn't have to come out and coach effort every single night. Effort is what your being paid, to bring effort every single night. Maybe it's the chemistry right now," Drew said. "I'm going to have to do something to kind of jump-start us again."Right now we've flatlined. Not just from a physical standpoint. Mentally we have flattened. I've got to find a way to resuscitate this team."Boozer had 14 points and Deng eight to help the Bulls to their halftime lead. Noah had 12 rebounds in the half and finished with 16 boards and nine points.The Bulls set a record for the fewest points allowed, eclipsing the previous mark of 59 by Orlando last March 19. Atlanta's 20 points in the first half also set a Chicago record for the fewest allowed in a half, bettering the 22 scored by the Knicks in 1999. The Bulls also limited New York to five points in the second quarter of that game."We have to play a certain way," Thibodeau said. "When we came out I thought Joakim and Carlos set the tone."The Hawks' previous scoring lows were six points in a quarter (at Minnesota) in 1994, and 25 in a half -- accomplished three times, most recently against New Orleans in 2011.Noah wasn't surprise by the defensive performance."I wasn't shocked, but our mindset was more be ready for the first 5 or 6 minutes of that third quarter. We had been in positions where we were up by 25, 26 points and lost before. So we feel no lead is big enough," Noah said.Tensions heated up in the third quarter. After Hamilton was called for an offensive foul on Devin Harris, Harris pushed Hinrich hard to the floor as he was attempting a layup. Hinrich had to be restrained by teammates after he rushed toward Harris, who was called for a flagrant one. In separate incidents, Teague and Smith were called for technicals in the third quarter."We just couldn't buy a bucket and we weren't getting any calls going to the basket. I guess we've got to grind a little harder when it's more adversity hitting us in the face," Smith said.Taj Gibson, who had five blocks, got fans on their feet with a thunderous dunk over Anthony Tolliver to put the Bulls up 79-47 with 7:13 left.NOTES:The Bulls' biggest lead was 44 points. ... In the teams' last meeting, the Hawks beat the Bulls 92-75 in Atlanta on Dec. 22. ... Hawks G Anthony Morrow missed the game with a lower back injury.
Four days into the Cubs’ training camp restart, we’ve only begun to get acquainted with the new normal of baseball rhythms and routines that we can only hope will result in a 2020 season of 60 games.
If the league can fix some of its early testing issues and keep enough players on enough teams healthy enough to start the season, what might come into play for the Cubs and the actual baseball.
Early observations after about a dozen Zoom sessions with team personnel and two intrasquad scrimmages:
NUTS: Home cooked?
The Cubs, who draw so reliably in one of the unique ballparks in the majors, might have more to lose than most teams without fans allowed to attend games when the season starts July 24.
Just how much of the Confines’ home-field advantage is lost will be a matter of “wait-and-see,” manager David Ross said.
“There’s always an advantage to playing in your own park,” he said Sunday. “You feel more comfortable you woke up in your own bed. You’re not staying in a hotel room, which especially now, where you feel like outside spaces just aren’t comfortable as they used to be, probably [gives] a slight advantage in your city.
“There’s no substitute for fans,” he added. “There’s probably a slight advantage, but I don’t know if it’s as great as it used to be.”
What Ross didn’t mention were the rooftops across Waveland and Sheffield, which are planning to operate at 25-percent capacity when games start, suggesting at least a few hundred fans within cheering and booing distance.
“You’re going to hear them loud and clear, too,” pitcher Tyler Chatwood said. “I promise you that.”
BOLTS: Taking the fifth
All you need to know about Alec Mills’ ability to adjust and immediately step into an important role is what he did in an emergency start against the first-place Cardinals at Wrigley last year with the Cubs a half-game out and barely a week left in the season.
He hadn’t started anywhere in a month — and that was in the minors. But the guy who pitched out of the bullpen just three times in the four intervening weeks, pitched two outs deep into the fifth inning that day and didn’t allow a run (the bullpen took care of that, in a loss).
No wonder when Ross talks about Mills replacing the injured Jose Quintana (thumb) in the rotation, he says, “I’ve got a ton of confidence.”
He’s not the only one. “I’ve always had the mindset of doing whatever I can to stay ready and help in any way,” said Mills after pitching a strong three innings in a simulated game Sunday. “Obviously, with an unfortunate injury like this, I think it’s just even more heightened.
“I’m ready to do whatever, whether it needs to be maybe a start here or there, a couple more starts, long guy out of the pen — just whatever I need to do I pride myself on being ready to do that.”
CHATTER: The mask at hand
“It’s a little different. You leave the house with a phone, your keys, your wallet and your mask.”
—Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo on his and his teammates’ new daily normal.
“Everybody is thinking about it, but we try to get here and understand this is our safe zone and we’re trying to create that [within] the things that we’re going to do on and off the field.”
—Ross on players weighing the risk of playing during the pandemic against the safety precautions and protocols the team has built in and around its Wrigley Field bubble.
Both the Cubs and White Sox may benefit this season from the unique MLB schedule which will have all clubs play regionally, instead of across their leagues. Since the A.L. Central and N.L. Central teams are all fairly close, and Chicago is practically in the middle of the action, both the Sox and Cubs will rank near the bottom for miles traveled over the course of the regular season, according to MLB Network.
During their 2020 schedule release show, MLB Network displayed a graphic saying the Cubs will travel the second-fewest miles at 4,071 and the White Sox will travel sixth-fewest at 4,750 miles. It’s important to note that may not give them an edge in the regular season, as the other teams to round out the list are all Central division opponents as well: the Brewers, Tigers, Cardinals and Reds.
But when it comes time for the playoffs, that rest may pay off-- especially if either team faces off against a team from the West. All of the top-five teams for most miles traveled come from the A.L. and N.L. West, ranging from 11,332 miles traveled for the Rockies to a whopping 14,706 miles traveled for the Rangers. In a condensed season, with significantly less rest, that long travel could take a toll.