Cavs hold off late Bulls rally, lead three games to two, Gibson ejected.

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CLEVELAND—With the ”Big 3” reduced to the ”Banged-Up 2,” LeBron James again showed why he’s Cleveland’s one and only.James scored 38 points, Kyrie Irving added 25 and the Cavaliers held off the Bulls charge in the fourth quarter for a 106-101 victory over the Bulls on Tuesday night to take a 3-2 lead in their testy Eastern Conference semifinal.Showing no ill effects from a sprained left ankle, James added 12 rebounds, six assists, three steals, three blocks and didn’t have a turnover in 41 minutes to ensure the Cavs will again play at home this season.

”LeBron was just outstanding, every element of the game,” Cavs coach David Blatt said. ”You can’t pick a thing he didn’t do at the highest level.”

Cleveland can wrap up the best-of-seven series and advance to the conference finals for the first time since 2009 with a win in Game 6 on Thursday night back at United Center, where the teams exchanged buzzer-beating victories last weekend.The drama wasn’t quite as high in Game 5, but it was close and it was intense.Jimmy Butler scored 29 and Mike Dunleavy 19. Derrick Rose scored 16, 12 in the first quarter, but the star guard shot just 2 of 15 in the final three quarters and aggravated a shoulder ”stinger” he sustained in Game 1.Fueled by an altercation that led to the ejection of Taj Gibson, the Cavs led by 17 with 6:09 left and then had to hold off a furious comeback by the Bulls, who got within 101-99 on Butler’s 3-pointer with 1:18 left.Cleveland, though, got a huge offensive rebound by Iman Shumpert before Irving, playing on a sprained right foot and sore left knee, made four free throws in the final 17 seconds.The Bulls were missing big man Pau Gasol, who sat out his second straight game with a strained left hamstring and didn’t sound confident before Game 5 that he’d be ready by Thursday.They also played the final 10:25 without Gibson, ejected for kicking Cavs guard Matthew Dellavedova. Gibson shoved Dellavedova to the floor and then kicked the scrappy backup, who angered the Bulls forward by clamping his legs around Gibson’s. Players on both teams exchanged shoves and pushes before the officials got things under control.Gibson could be facing further discipline from the league, and Dellavedova, too, might get slapped for his role.

”I was surprised (to be ejected),” Gibson said. ”I really just tried to release my foot because as soon as I got up off the ground, I just felt somebody tugging on my leg.”

The Cavs were sparked by the incident and opened a 90-73 lead before the Bulls came charging back.Dunleavy scored six points in an 11-0 run that got the Bulls back in it before the Cavs gained their composure and closed it out.

”I love the way that we fought back,” Rose said. ”I thought we had a crack at it, we just didn’t execute right.”

James, who came in shooting just 38 percent in the series, didn’t show the slightest signs of being slowed by the sprain he sustained late in Game 4. He ran the floor with abandon, posted up whenever possible and seemed intent on taking care of the Bulls by himself.He scored Cleveland’s first 12 points of the second quarter, helping the Cavs open a 10-point lead. James finished one drive by powering through Nikola Mirotic, who couldn’t stop the 250-pound, wine-and-gold-clad truck. After the basket, James glanced at his biceps and then brushed his arm as if flicking off a bug.

”We were slow. He was quicker,” Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said.

Cleveland’s Tristan Thompson came up big again, adding 12 points and 10 boards in 38 minutes. He’s filling in for Kevin Love, who is out following shoulder surgery.Mirotic had the game’s longest shot, dropping a 50-footer at the horn to end the third, bringing the Bulls within 80-71.

NOTES—Thibodeau was ”disappointed” to learn coach Monty Williams was fired by New Orleans despite leading his team to the playoffs. Thibodeau and Williams were assistants on the U.S. national team last summer. ”He’s a great friend, a great coach and more importantly a great person,” Thibodeau said. … Before scoring more than 30 points in Games 3 and 4, Rose had not posted consecutive 30-point playoff games since 2011, when he went over 30 in three straight against Atlanta. … The Bulls are one of just seven franchises in league history to make the playoffs seven straight seasons. San Antonio (18) and Atlanta (8) are the others…..Just as during the regular season, injuries – significant ones to star players – have been prevalent during the postseason as well. ”It’s just the year it is. It’s not even just the playoffs. It’s the whole season,” James said. ”A lot of the key guys in our league. You look at Durant. You look at Kobe. You look at Westbrook. You look at some of the key guys in our league, you just have some injuries that are bad for our game when you have so many key guys who are out. This year was very different from any other.”

This time, James hits buzzer beater as Cavs even series at 2-2.

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LeBron James watched his coach draw up the final play – and then drew one up of his own.

”Give me the ball and get out of the way,” he said.

James overruled Cleveland coach David Blatt’s idea for a last-second inbounds play and drained a jumper from the corner at the buzzer to give the Cavaliers an 86-84 victory over the Bulls on Sunday, evening the Eastern Conference semifinal series at 2-2.During a stoppage the Cavs only got because the officials were reviewing a play, Blatt designed a play that had James taking the ball out. The four-time NBA MVP has been in enough pressure situations that he vetoed his coach.

”I was supposed to take the ball out,” James said. ”I told Coach there was no way I’m taking the ball out unless I could shoot it over the backboard and go in. So I told him, `Have somebody else take the ball out.’ The play that was drawn up, I scratched it. I just told Coach, `Just give me the ball. We’re either going to go into overtime or I’m going to win it for us.”’

James, playing the final quarter on a sprained left ankle, finished with 25 points to help the Cavaliers win in another wild finish, returning the favor after the Bulls took Game 3 on Derrick Rose’s banked 3-pointer at the horn.This time, James got whistled for an offensive foul when he elbowed Mike Dunleavy Jr., and Rose scored on a driving layup with 9.4 seconds left. Blatt tried to call a timeout but didn’t have one and assistant Tyronn Lue alertly pulled him off the court.Then, following an animated break, James ended it with the 21-foot jumper over Jimmy Butler, setting off a wild celebration by Cleveland’s players who pinned James to the scorer’s table.Game 5 of the best-of-seven series that’s had about everything is Tuesday night in Cleveland.James rolled his left ankle in the third quarter, but fought off the injury. He committed eight turnovers and struggled again from the field, hitting 10 of 30 shots after going 8 of 25 in Game 3. But he also had 14 rebounds, eight assists and a shot that gave Cleveland fans some comfort after Rose broke their hearts on Friday night.

”There’s nothing you can do about it,” Rose said of James’ contested jumper. ”He hit a great shot. He’s a hell of a player. We just have to make sure that if we’re in that position again, just make sure that we force him out a little bit more or make someone else get the ball.”

Kyrie Irving, playing with a sprained right foot, was 2 of 10 and had 12 points and two assists.Timofey Mozgov had 15 points and nine rebounds, and J.R. Smith, who was suspended for Games 1 and 2, came on strong for Cleveland down the stretch, scoring 11 of his 13 points in the fourth quarter.Rose scored 31 points and Butler added 19. They were the only players in double figures for the Bulls, who were playing without Pau Gasol, out with a strained left hamstring. His status for Game 5 is in question.

”I thought the last two (games) could have gone either way,” Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. ”They’re hard fought. They’re a great team.”

The Cavaliers went more than 7 minutes without scoring in the third and got a major scare late in the quarter when James rolled his left ankle when stepped on Rose’s foot and was called for a charge.Blatt had a rough final few minutes, nearly costing the Cavs by trying to call a timeout and then having James change his play call.

”Players make mistakes, coaches make mistakes and we have to be able to cover for one-another,” James said.

Rose hit two free throws with 1:32 remaining to make it 82-79, but he missed a 3 with about a minute remaining after Joakim Noah took a charge against James.Cleveland’s superstar then hit two free throws to make it a five-point game.Butler buried a 3 with 27 seconds left to cut it to 84-82.The Cavaliers called a timeout with 21.2 seconds left and burned two more timeouts trying to inbound it. They finally got the ball to a double-teamed James, who got called for a foul after he turned and swung his elbow into Dunleavy.Rose drove for a tying layup with 9.4 seconds left. Blatt tried to call a timeout that he didn’t have, but Lue restrained him, preventing a technical. ”Yeah, I almost blew it, to be honest with you,” Blatt said. James made sure he didn’t.

NOTES—James on his ankle: ”I wasn’t coming out. I can’t afford to come out, not only because of the position that our team is in but because of who I am as a leader of this team. I was going to fight through it no matter what. That’s why we have a great training staff. They’ll probably be on me around the clock to make sure my wheel is as close to 100 percent as possible by Tuesday.”…The Cavaliers shot 38.7 percent and were 5 of 25 on 3-pointers…..Taj Gibson started for Gasol and finished with six points and eight rebounds.

Rose bank’s in three pointer at buzzer, Bulls stun Cavs 99-96, lead series 2 games to 1

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Derrick Rose banked in a 3-pointer at the buzzer and scored 30 points Friday night to give the Bulls a 99-96 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers and a 2-1 lead in the Eastern Conference semifinals.Cleveland had just tied it on a 3-pointer by J.R. Smith with 10.8 seconds left when Rose came through with the winner.He took the inbounds pass from Mike Dunleavy Jr. on the sideline after Chicago called time with 3 seconds remaining. Rose then dribbled past the top of the key before burying a wild shot over Tristan Thompson, drawing a mob from his teammates and a deafening roar from the crowd for the hometown star who returned from his most recent knee surgery late in the season.LeBron James scored 27 points for Cleveland and passed Tony Parker, Steve Nash and Larry Bird for fourth on the career playoff assists list. He had 14 in the game, giving him 1,073.The Bulls never won more than one game in three previous playoff series against teams led by James. But the Bulls have a chance to take a commanding lead with Game 4 at home on Sunday.Smith, back from a two-game suspension, scored 14 points. Kyrie Irving shot 3 of 13 and finished with 11 points and no assists.Jimmy Butler scored 20 points, Dunleavy added 16 points, and Nikola Mirotic scored 12. One concern for the Bulls was Pau Gasol straining his left hamstring. The Bulls announced late in the game that he would not return.In a game that was tense and tight the whole way, Rose gave Chicago a 92-91 lead with a free throw with 2:09 remaining. But he also missed on a drive with James guarding him. He had another layup blocked by Thompson before Butler missed a 3, resulting in a shot-clock violation with 52 seconds remaining.Butler then reached in on James, who hit two free throws to give Cleveland a 93-92 lead with 41.5 seconds left. But Butler drove along the baseline, stopped and spun for a layup.James then missed on a drive and fouled Taj Gibson as he grabbed the rebound, resulting in two free throws that made it 96-93. Smith buried a 3 with 10.8 seconds remaining, but Rose answered, drawing a wild ovation.

NOTES—The Cavaliers got caught in traffic and did not show up at the arena until a little over an hour before tipoff. If the late arrival bothered his players, coach David Blatt did not see any signs before the game……”I was thinking about that when I got off the bus,” Blatt said. ”I was looking at our guys and it didn’t seem to bother them. I’ve seen situations where guys get really nervous under those circumstances.”…..Iman Shumpert started again after injuring his groin during Game 2. He finished with eight points on 3-of-9 shooting…..The NBA fined C Joakim Noah $25,000 for pushing a fan at halftime of the Bulls’ loss to Cleveland in Game 2 on Wednesday night..

Hawks sweep Wild, third straight trip to W.Conf Finals(and 5th in 7 yrs)

ST. PAUL—Corey Crawford and the Blackhawks controlled this second-round series from start to finish, except for a frenzied attempt by the Minnesota Wild to send Game 4 into overtime.No sweat.They still finished the sweep.Crawford made 34 saves, Patrick Kane had a goal and an assist, and the Blackhawks advanced to the Western Conference finals for the fifth time in seven years with a 4-3 victory over the Wild on Thursday night.

”It may have looked a little hectic, but I think our team remained calm,” left wing Patrick Sharp said, ”and we did what we had to do.”

The Wild never led in the series, but they had a big rally after falling behind 4-1 on Marian Hossa’s short-handed, empty-net goal with 3:07 left. Devan Dubnyk, who made 21 saves to cap a remarkable run for the Wild since arriving in a season-saving mid-January trade, was pulled for most of the last four minutes.Jason Pominville and Nino Niederreiter scored with 2:18 and 1:27 remaining to give the Wild one last chance, but the final few whacks were either wide or turned aside by Crawford, who stopped 124 of 131 shots in the four games for a robust .947 save percentage. The Blackhawks improved to 30-0, including 5-0 in this postseason, when leading after two periods.

”They want to be successful. They want to find ways to win, and in the end they want to be champions,” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said, praising the resolve of his players over that final frantic sequence.

Brent Seabrook and Andrew Shaw also scored for the Blackhawks, who were down to five defensemen after a serious injury to veteran Michal Roszival. Jonathan Toews and Bryan Bickell had two assists apiece, and the Hawks eliminated Minnesota from the playoffs for the third straight year, winning 12 of the 15 games.Dubnyk said he felt ”sick” about it.

”To be with the group that we have, to finish it that way, it just doesn’t feel right,” he said.

The Blackhawks have scored 12 times in the first period in 10 games this postseason. They’re 5-1 when scoring first.

”We don’t think about being special,” Kane said. ”If we have a good game the game before, we want to be even better. If we have a bad game, we want to wipe the slate clean and not feel sorry for ourselves, come back, and make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

The Blackhawks showed their deft finishing touch throughout the series, making so many of their prime opportunities count. The Wild simply didn’t, though they couldn’t help but shake their heads about some of the bad bounces against them.Seabrook gave the Blackhawks a 1-0 lead with his shot off Wild defenseman Marco Scandella’s shin and into the upper corner of the net.Toews took the game’s first penalty, hooking early in the second period, and the Wild just missed several chances to score on the power play. Defenseman Matt Dumba and center Mikael Granlund took the place of the struggling Pominville and Thomas Vanek on the first unit.Soon after Toews left the box, he picked up the puck and threaded a perfect pass to a streaking Marcus Kruger, who drew a hooking call on Nino Niederreiter. The Blackhawks scored on their power play when Shaw knocked a loose puck between Dubnyk’s pads.

”We had a great run, and obviously that’s not the way we wanted it to end,” said Vanek, who was dropped down to the third line. ”They were tight games, and their scorers scored when they needed to, timely goals. I didn’t.”

Vanek had a breakaway when Rozsival lost his balance and fell backward while badly injuring his left leg, but Crawford brushed Vanek’s shot aside with his blocker. Rozsival was helped off the ice, his left leg hanging limp without any weight on it.Erik Haula scored in the second period to pull the Wild within 2-1, his speed and energy on the fourth line providing a bright spot for the Wild. That was the first goal by a Wild forward in a stretch of 177 minutes and 11 seconds since the middle of the second period of Game 1. Dumba scored in Game 2, the only other goal during that stretch as Crawford gained more and more confidence by the shot.

”You feel it’s a waste of a year, because we had a chance and we were playing some good hockey coming into the postseason and we proved it in the first round,” Pominville said, reflecting on the six-game victory over Central Division champion St. Louis. ”But it wasn’t good enough in the second.”

NOTES—This was the first sweep by the Blackhawks since the Western Conference finals in 2010 against San Jose. … Haula had four goals and three assists for the Wild in 13 playoff games last year. This was his first score since Feb. 28.

All over in first quarter as Cavs even series with Bulls 1-1

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CLEVELAND—The headband returned. The aggressiveness, dunks and dazzling plays all came back, too.LeBron James wasn’t going to have a second sub-par game.James attacked from the start and scored 33 points, Kyrie Irving added 21 and the Cleveland Cavaliers evened their semifinal series, beating the Bulls 106-91 in Game 2 on Wednesday night.Donning the signature headband he ditched in March, James played like a man possessed. He powered to the basket, leaving Bulls defenders in his wake and keeping the Cavs, missing two starters, from falling into a 2-0 hole. He added eight rebounds and five assists for Cleveland, which led by 25 in the third quarter and withstood a third-quarter charge by the Bulls.James said the choice to wear the headband was spur of the moment.

”It was in my locker and I decided to give it a go,” he said. ”It was time for it to make a comeback.”

The Cavs made one, too.For the second straight game, they were without forward Kevin Love (shoulder surgery) and J.R. Smith (two-game suspension), but they had James and he was more like himself after an ”off” opener.

”We’re a little banged up, we’re short-handed, so I have to be aggressive,” James said. ”Even more aggressive than my usual self, and I was happy I was able to make a couple of plays to help our team win tonight.”

Jimmy Butler scored 18 and Derrick Rose had 14 points and 10 assists for the Bulls, who host Game 3 on Friday night. Pau Gasol added 11 points – 10 fewer than Game 1, when he destroyed the Cavs on uncontested jumpers.Iman Shumpert added 15 points, James Jones made five 3-pointers and Tristan Thompson added 12 rebounds for Cleveland. Thompson started at power forward in Love’s spot, allowing James to move back to small forward. On the perimeter is where James is most dangerous and he made it clear from the outset that he wasn’t going to stand around and wait for the game to come to him.At Irving’s urging, James was ”ultra-aggressive.”

”There wasn’t one possession where he wasn’t dominant,” Irving said. ”When he has that mindset, he’s the greatest player playing our game right now.”

The Cavs burst to a 13-2 lead, led by 22 in the first quarter and never looked back.

”They smashed us,” Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said.

James arrived at Quicken Loans Arena at around 4 p.m., three hours before tip-off. As if there needed to be another sign of the game’s importance to Cleveland this was it, as the superstar typically gets to the arena for a home game around 90 minutes before the start.

”Maybe he wanted to beat the traffic,” quipped Cavs coach David Blatt. ”Knowing him, it was something else.”

Along with his old look, James seemed all-business from the time he took the floor for warmups. He scored 14 in the first quarter and got to the free-throw line five times, three more than in Monday’s loss. James, who went just 9 of 22 from the field in Game 1, set the tone and his teammates followed.

”For the leader of the team, that’s what you’re supposed to do,” Rose said. ”Everybody on the team followed right behind him.”

Love visited his teammates in the locker room before the game, and he joined them on the bench in the second quarter. Moments after Love, wearing a sling on his left arm, waved to the crowd, James delivered one of those plays only he can make. He burst down the left side of the lane and delivered a right-handed dunk over Butler, who did a marvelous job defending the four-time league MVP in Game 1.But this wasn’t the same James or the same Cavs.
NOTES—Not everyone was thrilled with James’ fashion choice. ”I don’t care about no headband,” Butler said. ”He’s a great player, headband or not.” … The Bulls are now 21-8 this season with their ”A” lineup: Rose, Gasol, Butler, Joakim Noah and Mike Dunleavy…..Reserve G Matthew Dellavedova added nine points and nine assists. … Smith will return for Game 3, but the way Shumpert is playing, there’s no guarantee he’ll have his starting job back. … James (1,059) moved into a tie with Tony Parker on the career postseason assists list. He’s two away from catching Steve Nash (1,061)…..Shumpert left in the third quarter with a strained left groin that could be serious. After riding a stationary bike, he returned to the floor but Blatt indicated the injury could limit him.”Time for one of those miracle-48-hour recoveries,” Blatt said. ”That’s what we’re hoping for.”…..Rose has not attempted a free throw in three straight playoff games, dating to Game 6 against Milwaukee. He didn’t have any excuses.”If they’re not calling it, they’re not calling it,” he said. ”I can’t worry about that.”Thibodeau was careful not to criticize the officiating when asked what Rose needs to do to get to the line.

Crawford make’s Kane’s PP Goal stand up for 1-0 win and three-zip series lead on Minnesota

ST. PAUL—Patrick Kane scored in the first period for the Blackhawks, and Corey Crawford and the Blackhawks made the superstar’s goal stand up for a 1-0 win over the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday.The Blackhawks took a commanding 3-0 lead in the Western Conference semifinal series. Game 4 is in Minnesota again on Thursday.Kane has six goals and five assists in nine playoff games, bouncing back just fine from the broken collarbone that kept him out of the last quarter of the regular season.Crawford made 30 saves, giving him 90 on 94 shots in the three games. Stifled time after time on chance after chance, the Wild have scored just once over their last 150-plus minutes on the ice.The Blackhawks last led a playoff series 3-0 in the Western Conference finals against San Jose in 2010, when they went on to win the Stanley Cup.An overnight power outage softened the ice, sending the arena scrambling to restore the surface in time for the morning skates. The skating conditions were back to normal by nightfall, and there was sure no slowing down the Blackhawks.All they needed was a split second, a narrow opening or a friendly bounce, and all of a sudden they were on the rush. Devan Dubnyk made a difficult kick save early to fend off Jonathan Toews off a lead pass by Marian Hossa.Then Patrick Sharp centered to Andrew Shaw, who poked the puck just enough to his left where Kane skated unabated up the wing. The 26-year-old speedster snapped a low shot that slipped past Dubnyk’s pads to quiet the buzz in the crowd.Only Tampa Bay’s Tyler Johnson has more goals in the NHL this postseason than Kane, who has nine goals and six assists in the 14 playoff games against the Wild over the last three years.Matt Dumba rammed Kane into the boards at one point, causing the curly haired wonder to remain on the ice for a few seconds and slowly rise to his feet. But as hard as the Wild played, they couldn’t turn any of their prime opportunities into goals.The Blackhawks blocked 13 shots over the first two periods, and the Wild shot wide or high just as often. They were more apt to try the kind of cross-ice passes the Blackhawks execute so well, rather than carry the puck into the zone; many of those were chipped away at the perfect time to create a rush for the Hawks the other way.Jason Pominville and Thomas Vanek particularly struggled to get shots on target, their frustration obvious. Mikael Granlund had a breakaway in the second period, but Crawford denied him with his blocker.The Wild brought the most productive power play in the league into these playoffs, with six conversions in 17 attempts entering this game. But they fell flat with an 0-for-3 performance that included no shots on goal on two of the opportunities.The Wild scratched Chris Stewart because of an upper body injury suffered in a collision with the boards in Game 2, moving Jason Zucker up to the line with Mikko Koivu and Nino Niederreiter. That trio produced the majority of the chances for the Wild, ultimately for naught.Kane’s return from injury has been a boon for the Blackhawks, but he’s not the only one who’s bounced back. Crawford was benched for Scott Darling in the first round against Nashville, only to regain his post at the end of that series and solidify it with this stellar performance against the Wild.

NOTES—The Blackhawks entered the game ranked 15th of the 16 playoff teams on the penalty kill, surrendering eight goals on 27 attempts. … Dubnyk made 21 saves.

Bulls hold off short handed Cavs 99-92 in Series opener

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CLEVELAND—The Bulls came in oozing with confidence, unafraid of LeBron James and convinced they could keep their playoff momentum rolling.Derrick Rose made sure they did.Looking like the league MVP he was before being slowed by knee injuries, Rose scored 25 points, Pau Gasol added 21 and the Bulls led from the start in a 99-92 victory over the short-handed Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals on Monday night.Rose, who sustained a shoulder stinger in the closing minute, helped the Bulls swipe home-court advantage from the Cavs. Cleveland was missing starters Kevin Love and J.R. Smith, but its bigger issue was not stopping Rose or his pick-and-roll plays with Gasol.After all he’s been through – surgeries, hours of rehab, uncertainty about his future – Rose, who has missed over 180 games the past four seasons, is savoring every moment back in the postseason.

”I just appreciate everything,” he said, ”getting back on the floor, my fans, every aspect of basketball. It’s allowed me to change my life and my family’s life. I owe so much to this sport. I’m just trying to roll with it.”

Jimmy Butler added 20 points and banked in a contested jumper with 30 seconds left as the Bulls closed it out, silencing a roaring Cleveland crowd already worried about Game 2 on Wednesday night.Kyrie Irving scored 30 points and James added 19 and 15 rebounds for Cleveland, playing its first game since Love – one of the Cavs’ Big 3 – was lost for the remainder of the postseason with a shoulder injury.

”No excuses,” Cavs coach David Blatt said.

James didn’t offer any.

”We all just have to play better,” said James, who had nine assists but six turnovers. ”I wasn’t that good tonight.”

The Cavs only trailed by four points in the final minutes, but they forced several 3-point attempts and James had two costly turnovers and missed a tough layup in the final 3 minutes.Finally fully healed after dealing with injuries all season, the Bulls are peaking at the perfect time. Coming off a 54-point win over Milwaukee to wrap up its opening-round series, the Bulls jumped to an early lead, withstood a Cleveland comeback and buckled down on defense in the closing minutes to hand Cleveland just its second loss in 24 home games.Rose ran the show the way he used to, and Gasol, the steady 34-year-old Spaniard, made the Cavs pay for leaving him open by knocking down one mid-range jumper after another.Rose banged shoulders with Cleveland’s Tristan Thompson and felt his arm go numb. He said the feeling came back a few minutes later, and he’s not concerned about it lingering.The Cavs struggled from the start to find any offensive rhythm. Without Love to space the floor, the Bulls had an easier time defending James. And without Smith, suspended two games for striking Boston’s Jae Crowder in the face, the Cavs didn’t have one of their best perimeter shooters.Iman Shumpert started for Smith and made four 3-pointers and scored 22, but Blatt spent the night unsuccessfully searching for the right combinations.The Bulls have a healthy Rose, and that might be enough.

”Derrick was making the right plays every time,” Butler said.

After the Cavs battled back from a 16-point deficit to tie it 51-all, the Bulls went on a 15-0 run highlighted by Rose’s jumper that was a snapshot of him as league MVP in 2011.With James guarding him, Rose created some space with a dribble and hit a step-back, off-balance 3 to give Chicago a 61-53 lead. The Bulls weren’t done as Butler scored on a dunk, Gasol converted a three-point play and then knocked down another short jumper.It was a nice start for the Bulls, but as Tom Thibodeau was quick to point out, only that.

”You can’t get wrapped up in it,” he said. ”We’re going to have to play a lot better in the next game.”

NOTES—Blatt started Mike Miller at forward, but the 15-year veteran struggled defensively and scored just three points in 16 minutes. Shawn Marion and James Jones didn’t score in limited time…..James was forced to do a lot on defense as Blatt switched him on Rose, Gasol, Joakim Noah and others…..”I think I guarded every guy they brought into the game,” he said……NOAH, NO POINTS: Noah didn’t score in 29 minutes, but he had nine rebounds and drew boos from Cleveland’s crowd every time he touched the ball…..Instead of sitting on the bench, Rose rode a stationary bike in the hallway leading to Bulls locker room to stay loose when he wasn’t in the game. … Thibodeau and James have crossed paths many times in the postseason, first when he was an assistant with Boston and now in Chicago. ”It seems like we’ve been around each other in playoff games a lot,” Thibodeau said. ”I have great respect for him.”….James (1,054) moved past Scott Pippen (1,048) on the career postseason assist list. The only ”true” front-line player ahead of James is Larry Bird (1,062), who is fourth. Magic Johnson (2,346) is No. 1.

Kane scores twice, Hawks beat Wild 4-1 to lead W.Conf Semi-Finals two games to none. Trip to St.Paul next.

Les Grobstein's photo.

No. 101 went like so many of the first 100 playoff games for Patrick Kane. A perfect shot at a key moment, another big play at the very end, and a victory for the Blackhawks.Kane scored two goals, Corey Crawford made 30 saves and the Blackhawks beat the Minnesota Wild 4-1 on Sunday night to take a 2-0 lead in the Western Conference semifinals.

”I think it was our best game all the way around,” coach Joel Quenneville said. ”I thought we had real good pace and energy right off the outset. Good pace to our game, defensively solid. I thought all lines were consistent, had a lot of offensive zone time, puck possession. Played the right way.”

Kane’s eighth career multigoal playoff game gave him 101 points in 101 postseason games. The Blackhawks improved to 63-38 in the playoffs with the dynamic winger in the lineup, winning the Stanley Cup in 2010 and 2013.

”I’ve been fortunate enough to play with some great teammates where you’re getting a lot of good chances,” said Kane, who won the Conn Smythe Trophy for playoff MVP in 2013. ”I’ve had a lot of fun here in my seven years in the playoffs.”

Game 3 is Tuesday night in Minnesota.Defenseman Matt Dumba scored for the Wild, who are winless in eight postseason games at the United Center. Devan Dubnyk finished with 27 saves.

”We didn’t make the mistakes. I don’t know what team played that game, but it wasn’t us tonight,” coach Mike Yeo said.

Minnesota trailed 2-0 after two, but got back in the game when Dumba’s power-play shot 1:20 into the third went off Crawford’s glove and into the top of the goal. Dumba’s second playoff goal came with Michal Rozsival in the box for interference.Dubnyk then made a couple of stops on Duncan Keith and Teuvo Teravainen before Sharp scored at 7:39 after Wild captain Mikko Koivu got out of the box following a tripping penalty. Kane added an empty-netter as the Hawks improved to 28-0 when leading after two periods, including three such games in the playoffs.

”They’ve got a lot of guys on their team that can skate and make plays and hang on to pucks,” Keith said. ”We were trying to be patient and it worked tonight.”

The Blackhawks and Minnesota combined for six goals in the first 29 1/2 minutes of the series opener, and Teravainen sent the Blackhawks to a 4-3 victory with his first career playoff goal in the final minute of the second. Game 2 was a much different story, with shots at a premium and solid work by each goaltender for the first part of the night.Minnesota got its first power-play opportunity when Andrew Shaw was sent off for cross-checking at 10:45 of the second. But it turned into a disaster for the Wild when Hossa stole the puck from defenseman Ryan Suter along the boards, skated in and fed Toews for his fourth goal of the playoffs. Toews’ shot went off Dubnyk, popped up in the air and then went off the goaltender’s stick before barely trickling over the goal line.

”I made a mistake on that first one and it’s in the back of the net,” Suter said. ”We just have to protect the puck. I don’t think that was our style of game tonight.”

The Wild then made a frantic push for the tying goal, but Crawford made a terrific stop on Kyle Brodziak on a breakaway and a couple of stellar saves on prime opportunities for Zach Parise. Crawford also used his left and then his right pad to make a pair of great saves on Thomas Vanek in the first.

”They had a couple of big flurries in the game, but Corey was outstanding in those situations,” Quenneville said. ”Kept the momentum going our way even though they had a couple of good looks.”

Chicago increased its lead to 2-0 when Keith made a long stretch pass right to Kane’s stick, and the All-Star winger beat Dubnyk with a perfectly placed shot off the inside of the left post at 19:40. It was Kane’s fourth goal of this year’s playoffs.

NOTES—Wild RW Chris Stewart was shaken up after he was taken down by Blackhawks D Johnny Oduya midway through the second. He slammed hard into the boards on his right side and went back to the locker room, but returned later in the period. … Crawford had a big shot by Marco Scandella go off his new mask in the third period. He skated over to the bench to change masks and then stayed in the game. ”It was just dented a little bit,” Crawford said. ”Whenever it’s dented, there’s a chance the next one can squeak through so you just have to change it.” … Wild LW Erik Haula made his first appearance of this postseason, subbing for F Justin Fontaine (lower body). Haula had three goals and two assists in last year’s playoff series against the Bears.

Unanimous decision for Mayweather over Pacquiao

Image result for mayweather vs pacquiao LOGO

Les Grobstein's photo.

LAS VEGAS—Floyd Mayweather Jr. spent Saturday night doing — for the most part — what he’s done in the vast majority of his championship bouts over the last decade.He fought strategically. He landed counterpunchers. He held to offset rallies.The significance of this one was that the opponent was Manny Pacquiao.In a welterweight bout that’s seemingly been a generation in the making, Mayweather controlled the action in mid ring, eluded prolonged damage along the ropes and worked his way to a unanimous decision that earned him the WBO welterweight title to go along with the WBA and WBC belts he arrived with.The win boosted him to 48-0 as a pro in a 19-year career. Pacquiao is 57-6-2.Judge Dave Moretti gave it to Mayweather by a lopsided 118-110 count — which translates to 10-2 in rounds — while judges Glenn Feldman and Burt Clements each had it 116-112, or 8-4 in rounds.A partisan Pacquiao crowd booed the verdict.

“He’s a helluva fighter and I take my hat off to Manny Pacquiao,” Mayweather said. “Now I see why he’s one of the guys at the pinnacle of boxing. I fought a smart fight. I stayed outside. We did what we had to do tonight. When the history books are written, it will be worth the wait.”

Showtime’s Jim Gray asked Mayweather if he planned to continue and he said, “I’m fighting in September. Yes. My last fight is in September. I’m almost 40 years old now. I was 19 years old when I started.”

Mayweather was successful, as he’s been in other fights, at keeping Pacquiao’s aggression to a manageable pace. The Filipino was caught by a number of stiff right hands, but neither fighter ever appeared in serious trouble. Pacquiao had the most success when he was able to keep Mayweather along the ropes, which didn’t happen often.

Hawks blow 3-0 lead, then win on Teravainen’s first Stanley Cup goal 4-3


Teuvo Teravainen sure made the most of his opportunity.All he did was score the go-ahead goal to give the Blackhawks a 1-0 lead over Minnesota in the Western Conference semifinals.Not bad, considering he barely got off the bench in the opening round.Teravainen broke a tie with his first playoff goal and the Blackhawks opened the conference semifinals with a 4-3 victory over the Wild on Friday night.

”It’s something you always dream about,” he said.

The Blackhawks, trying to knock out Minnesota for the third straight year, struck first after taking out Nashville in six games in the opening round. Game 2 is Sunday night in the U.C. The 20-year-old Teravainen came through with 58.2 seconds left in the second period after the Hawks blew a 3-0 lead when he scored from a difficult angle. Held out of the final four games of the first round, he was expected to play after being placed on a line with Antoine Vermette and Patrick Sharp during the week.

”I think he’s getting better, stronger,” veteran winger Marian Hossa said. ”I know he didn’t play lots in the last (series) games, but when he’s there, he sees the ice really well. He’s really skilled, he’s learning. A great shot at the end.”

Brandon Saad scored 1:15 into the game. Patrick Kane and Marcus Kruger added goals just over 2 minutes apart in the first period.Corey Crawford made 30 saves, and the Blackhawks came away with the win even though they were outplayed for big portions of the game.

”We kind of got away with this one today,” defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson said.

Zach Parise had a goal and an assist for Minnesota, Jason Zucker and Mikael Granlund also scored, and Thomas Vanek had two assists.Devan Dubnyk stopped 31 shots, but the Wild lost after rallying from a 3-0 deficit.

”It (stinks), but you gotta put it behind you,” five-time All-Star defenseman Ryan Suter said. ”If you win the game, you gotta forget about it. We lost the game, we gotta forget about it, too. So just prepare for the next game on Sunday and be better.”

The Wild scored three goals in an 8:09 span in the second period to wipe out a 3-0 deficit, only to see the Hawks take the lead on Teravainen’s goal. He picked the puck off the left board and fired a quick shot high off the right post and into the net.

”I didn’t pick it up until it was about 5-6 feet in front of me and just kind of a flash and that’s why I kind of just waved at it and missed it,” Dubnyk said. ”The way it came up the wall, I didn’t see it come off the guy’s stick and I didn’t pick it up at all, but that’s my job. My job is to get out and find a way to find the puck at all times and I didn’t do that there and it cost me. That’s certainly a disappointing play to give up when we workd as hard as we did to come back. It’s one play and got to make sure it doesn’t happen again, that’s all.”

Crawford preserved the lead in the third when he saved a shot by Matt Dumba with his left toe with 7:38 remaining. He stopped Nino Niederreiter point blank just over a minute later.Minnesota’s Jason Pominville missed a half-open net from about 15 feet, the puck fluttering wide left with about 2:40 left.It was a strong finish for Crawford after he found himself under siege in the second period. Minnesota started to dominate in just about every way and quickly pulled even.But the Blackhawks stuck with Crawford. And coach Joel Quenneville gave an emphatic ”no” when asked if he considered making a switch.Crawford, of course, was benched in favor of Scott Darling for part of the first round. But he was not giving up soft goals in this one.

”Why would I get pulled?” Crawford said. ”The game was tied, so. Next one.”

Notes—The Blackhawks are 23-4 in their past 27 home playoff games. … Kris Versteeg sat out with an injury that Quenneville said was not serious. … The Wild are winless in seven playoff games at the United Center.