Lousy third quarter helps do in Bulls 95-90 to Pacers-first home loss

Chicago Bulls Logo - Red bull with script above head

Still smarting from an emotional loss in the rugged first round of the playoffs to the Bulls nine months ago, the Indiana Pacers returned to the United Center and scrapped as if they were back in the postseason.Sure it was just another regular-season game in a schedule crammed with them following the lockout, but after the Pacers beat the Bulls 95-90 Wednesday night — ending the Bulls unbeaten streak at home — the satisfaction was evident.

“They are just thrilled to get the win here,” coach Frank Vogel said. “They were crushed that we didn’t beat them last year in the playoffs.”

Danny Granger scored 22 points and a much-improved Roy Hibbert had 20, including a key dunk with 13 seconds to go, as the Pacers showed their progress from the five-game loss to the Bulls last April. Adding free-agent David West, who had 14 points, also has helped.

“The difference between this year’s team and last year’s team, we have confidence that we’ll score at crunch time,” Vogel said. “We’ll score in the fourth quarter. We didn’t have that last year.”

The victory, one night after the Pacers lost by 19 at home to Orlando, was of the comeback variety as they rallied from 10 points back at half. The Pacers limited the injury-depleted Bulls to 36 second-half points and held Derrick Rose to two points in the fourth quarter. Last season’s MVP finished with 24 points.Trailing by two in the final half-minute, the Bulls had the ball in Rose’s hands but when he saw his path to the basket impeded, he moved it to the corner to reserve Brian Scalabrine, whose 24-foot attempt bounded off the rim before a shocked crowd.

“Trusting my teammate,” Rose said. “I think it was a good shot. At the time I thought I didn’t have the shot and I think I made the right play. … That’s usually his shot. I’d give it to him again.”

After the missed shot the ball started to go out of bounds, but Joakim Noah saved it, Indiana’s Darren Collison retrieved it and tried to dribble out some of the clock. The ball got away before Granger passed it to Hibbert for the clinching dunk, ending the mad scramble.The Bulls,still missing injured starting forward Luol Deng (torn ligament left wrist), fell to 16-4 overall and 8-1 at home. Top sub Taj Gibson sat out his third straight game with a left ankle sprain.Ronnie Brewer, who started for Deng, scored 20 and grabbed 10 rebounds.

“The NBA is the NBA and people are going to get injured,” Rose said. “So guys got to step up. We have to step up as a team.”

West had a basket and a dunk and the Pacers forged a five-point lead early in the final quarter.Indiana kept it a five-point margin when Paul George made a nice crossover dribble and roared into the lane for a dunk with just over 6 minutes remaining. Granger’s jumper increased the lead to seven with about four minutes left.The Bulls quickly sliced it to three on a tip-in by Carlos Boozer and then a dunk by Noah following an Indiana turnover.Brewer’s two free throws with 1:33 left cut the Pacers lead to 90-88. But West made a runner across the lane before Richard Hamilton hit two from the line with 57 seconds remaining to make it 92-90 Pacers.Rose showed no sign of a sprained left big toe that has caused him to miss time this season. He hit a 3-pointer at the first-quarter buzzer but it was waved off after officials reviewed the video and saw that Rose didn’t release the ball in time.As the half was nearing its end, Rose blocked a shot, got the rebound and made a long pass to Hamilton for a layup and subsequent three-point play that gave the Bulls a 10-point lead as they closed the half on a 14-5 run. But the Pacers came out flying in the third quarter while the Bulls were flat and missed shots. Paul George hit a 3-pointer and Granger broke free for two baskets and Indiana quickly chopped the lead to two. The Pacers finally regained the lead on another hook by Hibbert, but Rose responded with a three-point play. West’s free throw with less than a second to go put Indiana up 75-74 after three.

NOTES—Indiana’s A.J. Price did not make the trip because of strep throat and neither did Jeff Foster , who is bothered by a sore lower back.

Demons bag second Big East win 69-64 at Rutgers

PISCATAWAY—Freshman Jamee Crockett scored 17 of his career-high 20 points in the second half to help DePaul rally for a 69-64 victory over Rutgers on Wednesday night.Cleveland Melvin had 14 points and hit a late go-ahead layup for the Blue Demons (11-9, 2-6 Big East), who snapped a five-game-losing streak overall and a four-game skid to Rutgers.Tied at 62-62, Brandon Young drove and dished to Melvin, who converted with 1:46 remaining to start DePaul on a 7-0 run. Young had 11 points and seven assists.The Scarlet Knights (11-10, 3-5), who have dropped three of their last four, got 22 points from Myles Mack and 14 from Jerome Seagears.Rutgers took the game’s biggest lead at 50-39 with 10:21 remaining before Crockett hit the first of four straight 3-point attempts to start the comeback. He was 5 of 5 on 3-pointers in the second half.After Melvin put DePaul ahead, the Blue Demons made 5 of 6 from the foul line to put the game away with 13 seconds remaining.With Rutgers leading 52-42, DePaul held the Scarlet Knights scoreless for nearly four minutes to get back in it. There were three lead changes and two ties in the final 4:49 and 12 lead changes and nine ties in the game.In a low-scoring first half, which is routine for both teams, Rutgers used a 7-0 run in the final 3 minutes to take a 29-24 lead.It was the lowest scoring first half of the year for the Blue Demons and the seventh time they were held under 30 before halftime. It marked the ninth time this season Rutgers failed to score 30 by intermission.Trailing 24-22, the Scarlet Knights got a 3-pointer from Mack to provide the sixth lead change of the half, going along with nine ties. Eli Carter followed with a layup from Austin Johnson, and Johnson’s blocked shot led to Derrick Randall’s layup to give Rutgers a five-point halftime edge.It was the biggest lead for either team in the half, which saw DePaul shoot 37 percent (10 for 27) and commit 10 turnovers.

ISU outlast’s Missouri State in OT

NORMAL—Jackie Carmichael had 26 points and 16 rebounds and Illinois State defeated Missouri State 76-69 in overtime Wednesday night.Carmichael’s basket with 1:09 left in the extra period gave the Redbirds (13-8, 5-5 Missouri Valley) the lead for good at 69-67. Jon Ekey was the only other Illinois State player in double figures, scoring all 10 of his points in the first half.Missouri State (12-10, 5-5) jumped to a 23-12 lead in the first half and led 34-25 at the break. Kyle Weems led the Bears with 15 points, while Christian Kirk had 11 points and nine rebounds and Jarmar Gulley added 10 points.The Bears were just 5 of 14 from the free-throw line, though Weems made a pair with 20 seconds left in regulation to force overtime. The Redbirds were 24 for 33 at the line, led by Carmichael who was 10 for 12.

Ramblers lose to Detroit for second time this season-EIGHT IN A ROW.

DETROIT—Eli Holman’s 26th career double-double led Detroit past Loyola 67-52 on Wednesday night.Holman had 15 points and 12 rebounds for the Titans (11-11, 5-5 Horizon League), who have won four of their last five. LaMarcus Lowe had 14 points, Ray McCallum added 13 points and six assists and Jason Calliste scored 12.Joe Crisman had 16 points and seven rebounds to pace the Ramblers (5-15, 0-10), who dropped their eighth straight. Ben Averkamp and Jordan Hicks scored 13 each. Denzel Brito had six assists.Detroit, which beat Loyola 65-54 on New Year’s Eve, outrebounded the Ramblers 35-25 and limited them to 37 percent shooting (17 of 46).The Titans blasted to a 13-2 start. Loyola steadied itself and trailed 40-26 before Hicks hit two free throws and a 3-pointer to close the deficit to 40-31 at halftime. The Ramblers got no closer than five in the second half.

Wright State holds off UIC rally

DAYTON—Julius Mays scored 33 points, including a school-record 19 of 20 free throws, to lead Wright State to a 69-63 victory over UIC on Wednesday night.Mays scored 19 points in the first half for the Raiders (10-12, 5-5 Horizon League), including seven during a 12-0 run that gave Wright State a 14-3 lead.The Raiders shot 54.2 percent (13 of 24) in taking a 42-28 halftime lead, but they slumped to 21.1 percent (4 of 19) in the second half.A 13-0 run by the Flames (6-14, 2-8) early in the second half, including seven points by Darrin Williams, brought them within 44-41 with 14 minutes to play.Wright State’s lead was just two before Mays’ 3-pointer made it 62-57 with 1:25 left. The Raiders made 7 of 8 free throws in the final minute to seal the win.Marc Brown led UIC with 17 points

Hapless Huskies blown out by Kent State

KENT—Kris Brewer had 15 points to pace five in double figures for the Golden Flashes in a 90-56 rout of hapless Northern Illinois Wednesday night.Chris Evans, Justin Greene and Randal Holt scored 14 points each for Kent State (13-6, 3-3 Mid-American Conference), which opened the game on a 12-0 run and were never threatened. The win snapped a two-game skid for the Golden Flashes, who also got 11 points from Carlton Guyton in this one.Kent State led 49-24 at the break, was up by 43 points at one juncture late in the second half and outscored the Huskies 41-32 in the frame to seal it.The Golden Flashes outshot the Huskies 57.1 percent (32 of 56) to 35.2 percent (19 of 54).Keith Gray, the lone player in double figures for the Huskies (2-16, 1-5), had 15 points. NIU has lost three straight games and five of six.

Early Predators goals hold up for 3-1 win over Blackhawks.

Pekka Rinne made 24 saves for his ninth straight win and the surging Nashville Predators beat the Blackhawks 3-1 Tuesday night in the teams’ final game before the All-Star break.The Predators are now 12-2 in their last 14 and have beaten the Blackhawks twice in the last four days. Rinne has played a major role in the run, going 12-1-0 since Dec. 28.Craig Smith and Mike Fisher had first-period goals for the Predators and Colin Wilson added an empty netter with 12.8 seconds left. Dave Bolland had the lone Blackhawk goal on a power play in the final period.After Bolland scored on a nice pass from Marian Hossa at 7:20 of the final period, Rinne faced two more power plays and the Preds were able to hold off the Hawks who played without captain Jonathan Toews, after he was placed on injured reserve with a wrist injury and will also miss this weekend’s All-Star game. The Blackhawks, who lost 5-2 to the Predators in Nashville on Saturday night, are also without injured Patrick Sharp.The Blackhawks, now 19-6-4 at home, won’t be back at the United Center until Feb. 19 — they have a nine-game road trip after the All-Star break.The Blackhawks had trouble mustering offense against Rinne, but it was some shaky play on the defensive end that helped the Preds get a pair of first-period goals.The Hawks failed to clear the puck, Smith retrieved it in the left circle, whirled around and shot it past Corey Crawford for a 1-0 lead in the first.Patric Hornqvist later outscrapped Nick Leddy for a puck behind the net and got it to Fisher, who scored from in close to put the Predators up 2-0 with just more than two minutes left in the first period.Crawford, who’d been pulled in Saturday night’s loss, was so frustrated by Fisher’s score that he slammed his stick and broke it over the goal.

NOTES—Both teams enter the break with 64 points in the tight Western Conference. … New White Sox manager Robin Ventura, in town for the team’s winter convention this weekend, participated in a puck shoot between the second and third periods.

QB Michna back with Rush for 2012 season.

Chicago Sky

ROSEMONT—The Chicago Rush is pleased to announce today that veteran QB Russ Michna will return for the team’s 2012 season.

“Obviously, re-signing Russ was a major objective for us this offseason,” said Rush head coach Bob McMillen. “He is an incredibly smart quarterback with excellent accuracy and decision making skills. He said he feels great for the first time in a long time, and we are excited to have him back.”

Michna (6-3, 220, Western Illinois) will enter his fifth season with the Rush in 2012. Despite a season ending injury in 2011, Michna accrued more than 2,895 yards and 65 touchdowns in just 13 games played. Michna’s top target, All-Arena WR Reggie Gray, will also be returning this upcoming season and the duo will look to build upon their 2011 accomplishments.

This season will be Michna’s fourth as starting QB for the Rush. In 2010, he passed for 3,860 yards in 14 games and set a new single season Rush franchise record.

Prior to joining the Rush in 2007, Michna played for the CFL’s Winnipeg Blue Bombers in 2005 and 2006.Additionally, he was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Saint Louis Rams and played on the team’s practice squad in 2004 following his graduation from Western Illinois University. Collegiately, he set numerous single-season records for passing yards (3,160) and total offense (3,327) as a senior.

The Rush open the season Saturday March 10 at Allstate Arena against Tampa Bay.

Prince Fielder signs with……Detroit!

A big blow to the White Sox,Indians,Royals and Twins. Chalk up one more for the so-called mystery team. First it was Cliff Lee going to the Phillies, then Albert Pujols heading to the Angels. Now Prince Fielder has shocked the baseball world by signing with the Detroit Tigers, a team that hadn’t even been remotely connected to him in rumors the entire offseason. The robust first baseman has signed a nine-year contract worth $214 million, CBSSports.com insider Jon Heyman has learned.
The Tigers were recently dealt what appeared to be a pretty severe blow, as Victor Martinez tore his ACL and could miss the entire 2012 season. So there went Miguel Cabrera’s lineup protection, right? Think again. Owner Mike Ilitch really wants to win a World Series championship and this signing indicates one of the strongest reactions one can even imagine to news like that.
Heyman also notes that the finalists to land Fielder were the Nationals, Tigers and one other “mystery team.” So it’s entirely possible the Nationals would have come away with Fielder had Martinez not torn his ACL. It’s funny how things work sometimes.
A Fielder-Cabrera combo in the middle of that order will dominate AL Central pitching. Throw Justin Verlander into the mix, and the Tigers have three of baseball’s biggest stars.
Fielder, 27, hit .299/.415/.566 with 38 homers, 120 RBI, 95 runs and 36 doubles last season for the NL Central champion Brewers. He finished third in MVP voting and also took home the All-Star Game MVP. Though Fielder is a large man, he is as durable as they come. He hasn’t played in less than 157 games in a season since becoming a regular. He played in all 162 last season, following up seasons where he appeared in 161 and 162 games, respectively.
The smart money with Fielder and Cabrera is a split at first base, with the other serving as the designated hitter. Then again, what if the Tigers got nuts and tried to shove Cabrera back across the diamond to play third base again — where he began his career? That would mean the infield defense would be awful, but would also leave room for a better hitting DH than Brandon Inge (who, at this point, looks like the third baseman). And if Victor Martinez comes back healthy? It works even better.
The Tigers won the AL Central by 15 games last season. Even if Martinez misses all of the 2012 season, Fielder is a pretty sizeable upgrade to the offense. So it would appear the division is the Tigers’ to lose.
For now, though, the only details that really matter are that Prince Fielder is heading to Detroit — where his father once held down the middle of the order — and he’s going to make a whole lot of money.
Fielder will not face his former Brewers team this season but on April 13,14 & 15 will be on the South Side for the White Sox Home opening series at U.D.Cellular Field.Fielder’s Dad Cecil hit the first ever homer at (then called) New Comiskey Park April 18,1991 off Jack McDowell, in a game Detroit won 16-0 over the Sox.

Rose back as Bulls beat Nets 110-95

Chicago Bulls Logo - Red bull with script above head

Derrick Rose and Richard Hamilton each scored 22 points to lead the banged-up Bulls to an easy 110-95 victory over the New Jersey Nets on Monday.Hamilton set season highs in points and assists (10). Rose added eight assists and hung with Deron Williams after missing four games with a sprained left big toe.Joakim Noah chipped in with 16 points and 10 rebounds, and the Bulls made it look easy, cruising to their fourth straight win even though they’re hardly a picture of health at the moment. They still turned in an impressive performance, though.Rose seemed hobbled at times but was able to stick with one of the game’s best point guards, hours after he said the injury could be an issue the rest of the season.