LOS ANGELES—During seven seasons together with the Lakers, Pau Gasol and Kobe Bryant formed a bond that won’t be broken by separation or retirement.When they played on the same court in Los Angeles for the final time, the Bulls won in a blowout that didn’t mean a whole lot to two friends with memories of better days.Jimmy Butler had 26 points and 10 assists, and the Bulls opened their longest road trip of the season with a 114-91 victory over the spiraling Lakers on Thursday night.Gasol had 21 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists while facing Bryant for the last time at Staples Center. They hadn’t played in the same game since the 7-foot Spaniard left the Lakers as a free agent in 2014, leaving behind a legacy of two NBA titles, three trips to the finals and countless incredible moments in LA. ”I just think of all the moments that we went through, and they kind of mix together,” Gasol said. ”This building is extremely special. It’s been my home for so long. I went through so much. Everything is just more intense in this city and with this team. I lived it very intensively.” Bryant scored 10 points on 4-for-13 shooting after sitting out the previous game for the Lakers, who lost their season-worst eighth straight game to drop to 9-39. Kobe hadn’t been healthy enough to suit up against the Bulls since the 2012-13 season.Bryant knows he had a special partnership with Gasol. ”It was his intelligence and his ability to communicate clearly,” Bryant said. ”His ability to have extreme poise, his ability to put his arm around the guys, laugh at them, beat them up verbally, encourage them and bring them along. It’s all those attributes. On top of that, he’s just a great player.” Only the lopsided score likely prevented Gasol from dropping a triple-double on the Lakers after he was left off the Eastern Conference All-Star team earlier in the day. ”I didn’t need any extra fire tonight,” Gasol said. ”I wanted to play well. It’s exciting for me to be back here on this floor. … I don’t need to prove myself at this point in my career. I think I’m still one of the elite players in this league, and I’ll try to continue to be for as long as I can.” Butler was similarly spectacular in his first game since his second All-Star selection. Butler made 11 of his 17 shots and adding five assists as the Bulls opened its seven-game road trip with a laugher against the Western Conference’s worst team.Doug McDermott added 15 points with three 3-pointers for the Bulls, who took an 18-point lead in the first quarter with a lengthy run that included three baskets and two steals in 29 seconds by Butler.Jordan Clarkson scored 16 points and Nick Young had 14 for the Lakers, who played without starting guard Lou Williams due to a respiratory infection. Los Angeles has lost 12 of 13 since its only winning streak of the season.The crowd gave several loud ovations to Gasol, who got little love from many Lakers fans in his final years here. Bryant feels Gasol was scapegoated for the Lakers’ failures to win another title, saying that ”the city of LA didn’t appreciate what he did and what we had.” Butler was grateful to learn of his second straight All-Star nod before the game. So what will be different about Butler’s second All-Star weekend? ”I’ll probably have more people with me this time,” he said with a grin. ”I can probably afford it now.”Derrick Rose added 16 points after sitting out the second half of the Bulls’ loss to Miami on Monday with back and hamstring injuries. … Bryant will bid farewell to Chicago and Gasol on Feb. 21.Tennis legend Jimmy Connors watched the game with Lakers executive Jeanie Buss. Connors played on the LA Strings, a World Team Tennis franchise run by Buss. … Julius Randle took a hard fall under the basket in the second quarter, but got up gingerly. He finished with 14 points and eight rebounds.
EVANSTON—The 15 turnovers bothered Michigan State coach Tom Izzo very much. Same for the Spartans’ disparity at the line against Northwestern, and a few issues with the shot clock.The shooting was very impressive.Denzel Valentine made five of Michigan State’s season-high 16 3-pointers, and the 12th-ranked Spartans clamped down on sliding Northwestern for a 76-45 victory Thursday night.
”As I’m learning more and more and I don’t really say I like it, but you make a shot, it takes away all evils,” Izzo said, ”and we made a lot of shots.”
Valentine finished with 19 points, seven assists and six rebounds as the Spartans (18-4, 5-4 Big Ten) beat the Wildcats for the seventh straight time. Matt McQuaid scored 14 of his 17 points in the second half, and freshman Deyonta Davis had eight points, 11 rebounds and six blocked shots.Valentine went 5 for 7 from long range to improve to 21 for 45 from beyond the arc in six games since returning from arthroscopic left knee surgery.
”I was just kind of in a zone and just shooting the ball with confidence, really,” he said.
Northwestern (15-7, 3-6) shot a season-low 20.7 percent from the field in its fourth consecutive loss. It finished with more free throws (17) than field goals (12).Bryant McIntosh had 14 points on 4-for-15 shooting for the Wildcats, and Aaron Falzon finished with 11 points. Redshirt senior Tre Demps was 2 for 14 from the field, missing each of his seven 3-point attempts.
”I can sit up here for an hour and we can talk about a lot of things, but if you can’t put the ball in the basket you’re not going to win against really good teams,” coach Chris Collins said.
Valentine scored 14 points in the first half, and then focused on more of a distributing role as the Spartans pulled away in the second half.NU closed to 41-29 on Alex Olah‘s two free throws with 16:44 left, but Michigan State responded with a 13-2 run. McQuaid had the final 11 points of the spurt, including three 3s – two of them coming off passes from Valentine.It just got worse from there for the Wildcats, with little-used Matt Van Dyk giving the Spartans their biggest lead of the game with a fast-break dunk in the final seconds. Michigan State shot 51 percent (28 for 55) from the field, including its 16-for-26 night from long range.Davis set a season high for blocks and matched his best total for rebounds. He leads the team with 45 blocks on the year.
”I’m starting to understand,” Davis said. ”But I give credit to my teammates because they help me along with my coaches.”
Scottie Lindsey, who plays guard and forward for Northwestern, did not play for the first time this season. The sophomore went 0 for 5 and failed to score in Saturday’s 89-57 loss at Indiana.
”I just went with other guys tonight,” Collins said.
Izzo’s 513th win with the Spartans snapped a tie with Gene Keady for second-most victories at a Big Ten school. Bob Knight leads the way with 661 wins. … Valentine’s 3-pointer with 8:06 left in the second half moved him past Julius McCoy (1,377) for No. 23 on the school’s career scoring list. … The Spartans’ previous season high was 12 3-pointers in a 78-35 victory over Maryland-Eastern Shore on Dec. 9.The Wildcats have one game left in their first stretch of four straight against ranked opponents since the 1989-90 season. They take on No. 3 Iowa on Sunday. … Northwestern went 17 for 19 from the free-throw line, compared to 4 for 4 for the Michigan State.
CHAMPAIGN—With 14 seconds left on the clock in overtime Thursday, Ohio State led Illinois by three points but the Buckeyes needed one last stop.Illiniois’ Malcolm Hill lost the ball near the Buckeye basket, Keita Bates-Diop came up with it and fed Mickey Mitchell, who loped to the other end of the court for an easy layup with four seconds left that locked up a 68-63 win. ”I’m still trying to figure out how Mickey Mitchell came out of there with that basketball,” Ohio State coach Thad Matta said. ”I’ve never seen anything like it. I’m glad he did.” The end may not have made much sense to Matta, but the win was tough to figure out, too.Both teams played sloppy. Ohio State (14-8, 6-3 Big Ten) hit 39 percent of its shots and Illinois just 32 percent. ”It wasn’t always pretty, but both teams were going at it,” Illinois coach John Groce said. Trevor Thompson, who led Ohio State with 16 points, acknowledged that a month earlier the young Buckeyes might not have come out of the game with a win. ”I feel like we’ve definitely grown up,” he said. JaQuan Lyle hit a pair of free throws, his only points of the night, with 14 seconds left in overtime to put the Buckeyes up 66-63 before Mitchell iced the game.The Illini (10-11, 2-6) trailed by 13 with 6:34 to play but fought back and tied the game at 58-58 on a 3-pointer by Jalen Coleman-Lands with 56.9 seconds left in regulation.But Illinois scored just five points in overtime.Bates-Diop finished with 15 points and 12 rebounds for Ohio State and Marc Loving scored 11 with 10 boards.Kendrick Nunn led Illinois with 24 points, including five 3-pointers.The Buckeyes used a big offensive rebounding edge, 13-5, to put away a dozen second-chance points. Illinois had just four.In all, the Buckeyes grabbed 51 rebounds to Illinois’ 34.And the Illini were 18-31 from the free throw line.Illinois opened the game with a 13-2 lead. But the Illini had just one field goal, a jumper by Nunn, between the 11:25 mark of the first half and halftime.Hill finished with 12 points for the Illini and Coleman-Lands 11.Ohio State’s Jae’Sean Tate fouled out in overtime. He finished with nine points.Illinois’ fast start was fueled in part by a pair of buckets by Nunn from the corner in front of the Ohio State bench. They put an early scare in Matta. ”The scouting plan was try not to let him get going,” Matta said. ”When he made those, I thought, `Oh boy.”’ Official Ted Valentine is a regular target for members of Illinois student section, the Orange Krush. Thursday, he returned the favor. During one lengthy video review, one student yelled ”It shouldn’t be that hard!” at Valentine. ”Whoa!” the veteran ref barked back, giving the student a hard stare.The Buckeyes were 7 of 13 from the free throw line. The Buckeyes went to the line 39 times in their last meeting with Illinois, hitting 28 in a 75-73 win in Columbus on Jan. 3 … Matta made the most of his trip Champaign, offering Michael Finke‘s little brother, Tim Finke, a scholarship. Tim Finke is a sophomore guard at Champaign Central and is highly regarded.Coming into Thursday’s game, Illinois had lost its last five games against Ohio State and 11 of the last 13. … Hill and Nunn, who came into Thursday’s game averaging 18.7 and 17.5 points a game, respectively, are one of only two pairs of teammates in the country averaging at least 17 points a game each. Duke’s Grayson Allen (20.3) and Brandon Ingram (17.1) are the other two.
Cameron Morse had 22 points and Francisco Santiago made a key pair of late free throws to help Youngstown State beat UIC 82-78 on Thursday night.Matt Donlan and Jordan Andrew added 18 points each for the Penguins (9-13, 4-5 Horizon). Youngstown State had a 49-25 lead in the first half that the Flames (2-18, 0-9) nearly erased when Michael Kolawole‘s free throws made it 78-76 with 23 seconds left.Santiago put the Penguins back up by four at the foul line and Najeal Young‘s tip-in with five seconds left was too late for UIC to get another shot.Dikembe Dixson set a career high with 32 points and tied another with 15 rebounds. Young added 12 points and a personal-best 16 rebounds, Kolawole scored 15 and Tai Odiase had 13 points and 13 boards for the Flames.
WICHITA—After a blowout win, it was single-digit numbers on the stat sheet that caught the eye of Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall.Ron Baker had eight points, seven rebounds, six steals and five assists to help the No. 22 Shockers rout Loyola of Chicago 80-54 on Wednesday night.”He did it all,” Marshall said. ”Here’s a guy who represented our country (in the Pan Am Games) this summer, and he only takes six shots. Fred (VanVleet) is preseason player of the year and takes six shots.
”Those guys are unselfish, and we played unselfishly.”
Wichita State (15-5, 9-0 Missouri Valley) had seven players score at least eight points, including Shaquille Morris with 12 and Rashard Kelly with 11. VanVleet had eight points and eight of the Shockers’ 22 assists on 28 field goals.Montel James and Earl Peterson each scored 11 for Loyola (9-12, 2-7).
”The reality is they make you play bad,” Ramblers coach Porter Moser said, ”and we played bad.” Moser also gave Baker credit, saying his driving reverse layup for the game’s first points ”set the tone already.”
Wichita State scored the first eight points of the night. Zach Brown made a 3-pointer that gave the Shockers an 8-0 lead with 17:08 left in the first half, prompting Loyola to call a timeout.Wichita State took control with a 16-4 run led by Evan Wessel, who entered the game averaging 3.8 points. Wessel hit two 3s and scored eight points in that stretch, pushing the Shockers’ advantage to 24-8 with 8:30 to play in the first half.Out of desperation, Moser went to a zone defense he rarely employs.
”We had no answers,” the coach said, ”and we’ve been a good defensive team.”
After closing within 13 at halftime, Loyola maintained some momentum to start the second half. The Ramblers made five of their first six shots, including 3-pointers from Milton Doyle and Ben Richardson.That only helped trim Wichita State’s lead to 47-36 with 14:03 remaining.The Shockers then methodically put the game away, holding the Ramblers to two points over the next 5 1/2 minutes. Conner Frankamp’s 3-pointer made it 56-36 with 11:05 left, and Loyola called another timeout.Wichita State’s surge continued. VanVleet hit consecutive 3s and threw an alley-oop pass that Kelly slammed home.VanVleet said he was looking for an exclamation point, and that play provided it while giving the Shockers a 66-40 cushion with 8 minutes to play.
INDIANAPOLIS—Roosevelt Jones scored 23 points and Butler defeated DePaul 67-53 on Wednesday night.Jones was 7 of 11 from the field and 9 of 11 from the free-throw line for the Bulldogs (14-6, 3-5 Big East), who made 25 of 29 free throws to 6 of 13 for the Blue Demons (7-13, 1-7). Kellen Dunham made three 3-point attempts and scored 16 points while Andrew Chrabascz added 10.Tommy Hamilton had four 3-pointers and 13 points for DePaul. Eli Cain also scored 13 points with Myke Henry adding 12.Henry had a 3-pointer and jumper to cut Butler’s lead to 56-47 with 5:35 left but Jones scored Butler’s next five points for a 12-point advantage, 61-49, and the Bulldogs kept their lead in double figures as DePaul missed its next six field-goal attempts.Butler beat DePaul 77-72 on Jan. 6 on the Blue Demons’ floor.
RALEIGH—Riley Nash scored two goals, Jeff Skinner had a goal and an assist and the Carolina Hurricanes routed the Blackhawks 5-0 on Tuesday night.Carolina improved to 15-7-4 since a listless 5-1 home loss to New Jersey on Dec. 3. Nash said the Hurricanes haven’t dwelled on that Devils loss, but it might have been a turning point.Carolina (23-20-8) outshot Western Conference-leading the Blackhawks 16-5 in the first period, taking a 3-0 lead and chasing goalie Corey Crawford.Eddie Lack made 26 saves to improve to 4-1 in his career against the Blackhawks. Crawford, replaced by Scott Darling, made 13 stops.The Hawks (33-16-4) have lost three of four after winning 12 in a row. The Hurricanes improved to 7-2-1 in their last 10 games and completed a season sweep of the Blackhawks. ”It was pretty evident right from the beginning that we were in trouble tonight,” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. ”We lost every single puck battle, every single race.” Carolina got off to a fast start, and the Blackhawks never recovered.Skinner put Carolina in front with his 18th of the season at 2:21 of the first. After Crawford stopped Elias Lindholm‘s shot, Skinner and Jay McClement, originally credited with the goal, were in front of the net for the rebound.Nash scored his third of the season on a deflection off a Hawk player with 6:55 left in the first. Just over two minutes later, John-Michael Liles took a pass from former Blackhawks forward Kris Versteeg on a 2-on-1 and beat Crawford for his fifth.Joakim Nordstrom, who along with Versteeg was traded to Carolina in September, gave the Hurricanes a 4-0 lead in the second, and Nash scored about 90 seconds later on an assist from Skinner.Carolina also won Dec. 27 at the United Center with Lack in goal. In that game, he was three seconds shy of a shutout.Carolina outshot the Blackhawks 40-26 and got goals from all four lines.
NOTES—After the game, Carolina activated G Cam Ward from injured reserve. Ward had been sidelined by a concussion. F Phil Di Giuseppe and G Daniel Altshuller were reassigned to Charlotte Checkers of the American Hockey League. … The Hurricanes’ next game is Feb. 3 at Calgary, and the Blackhawks play next at Colorado on Feb. 2. … The Hawks announced a three-year contract extension for general manager Stan Bowman through the 2021 season. … The announced attendance at PNC Arena was 14,588. … Nordstrom has scored in the past three games, and Andrej Nestrasil has had assists in the past three. … Carolina has killed off 57 of 65 power plays at home, including 4 of 4 Tuesday night.
NORMAL—MiKyle McIntosh scored 25 points with four 3-pointers and three steals, Deontae Hawkins added 17 points with five 3s and Illinois State beat Drake 76-64 on Tuesday night to win its third straight.Justin McCloud scored 12 with four 3-pointers, DeVaughn Akoon-Purcell added 10 points and Tony Wills had a career-high seven assists for the Redbirds (12-10, 6-3 Missouri Valley), who shot 15 of 28 from long distance.Drake led 15-13 on Ore Arogundade’s 3-pointer, but the Redbirds hit three straight 3-pointers and a dunk and surged to a 40-35 halftime lead.Illinois State led by 20 on McCloud’s 3-pointer with 13:46 left in the second half and cruised from there.The Redbirds outscored Drake on fast-break points, 13-2, and used 18 assists in making 26 of 58 field goals (45 percent).Reed Timmer scored 19 and Graham Woodward added 12 for the Bulldogs (5-16, 0-9), who have lost nine straight.
Dwyane Wade had 28 points, Chris Bosh added 18 and the Miami Heat rallied from an eight-point deficit early in the fourth quarter for an 89-84 victory over the Bulls on Monday night, snapping a four-game losing streak.Wade scored 10 in the fourth quarter. He and Bosh combined for the last five points in the final 1:02 as Miami snapped an 84-all tie. ”Early in my career, I always struggled here,” said Wade, who grew up in Chicago. ”I think of late, the place is like a regular game, even though it’s always special being back and seeing my family members. ”I felt good, but most importantly it gave us a win, something we haven’t had in the last four games.” Pau Gasol had 19 points and 17 rebounds to lead the Bulls. Jimmy Butler scored 13 on 5-for-15 shooting.The Bulls, coming off a win at Cleveland on Saturday, has dropped four straight home games. ”We had some good stretches,” coach Fred Hoiberg said. ”The fourth quarter got tough and we didn’t handle it well.” Derrick Rose didn’t play in the second half because of lower back and right hamstring injuries. Aaron Brooks took Rose’s place with the starting unit.The Bulls were already playing without backup guards Kirk Hinrich (bruised left quadriceps) and E-Twaun Moore (right hamstring strain). ”Derrick, he was great this morning,” Hoiberg said. ”Something happened from shootaround to game time. We had to sit him, but next man up. We have to come in and perform.” Despite playing without Rose, the Bulls opened the second half with a 13-2 run to grab a 60-51 lead with just more than 7 minutes left in the third. The Bulls held Miami to 12 points in the quarter to take a 68-61 advantage into the fourth.The Bulls still had a 73-65 edge 2 minutes into the quarter when the Heat scored nine straight points to grab a 74-73 lead with just more than 7 minutes to play.The Bulls then snapped a scoreless drought of 3:20 to regain a 75-74 lead when Brooks fed Doug McDermott for a fast-break layup with 6 minutes to go.Wade and Bosh decided the game with a pair of open jumpers on pick-and-roll plays. Bosh gave the Heat the lead for good with an 18-footer with 1:02 to play, and Wade followed with a 16-footer on the next possession.Wade closed the scoring with a free throw in the final seconds. ”We gutted it out tonight,” Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said. ”We played under control and that win doesn’t happen without a good defensive effort. That’s a good win for us.”
NOTES—Luol Deng (right eye) returned after missing the previous game. ”His eye was troublesome for a couple of days, but he’s healed quickly,” Spoelstra said. … F Chris Andersen (sore left knee), G Goran Dragic (strained left calf), F Josh McRoberts (bruised right knee) and C Hassan Whiteside (strained left hip) all sat out….Mike Dunleavy, who has yet to play this season following offseason back surgery, is working out with the team and said following the morning shootaround that he hopes to return sometime in February. ”Going through the process, backs are tricky,” he said. ”They have a mind of their own and it just didn’t go the way I wanted it to. But I’m in a good spot, hopeful for what’s coming ahead.”….Deng, who spent the first nine-plus years of his career with the Bulls, said he still follows his former team…..”The crazy thing is, except when we play them, whenever I watch these guys play I find myself rooting for them because – obviously, I played with them – but they’re like my brothers,” he said…..The Bulls visit the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday.
Corey Crawford stopped 25 shots for his league-leading seventh shutout, rookie Artemi Panarin and Andrew Shaw scored and the Blackhawks beat the St. Louis Blues 2-0 on Sunday night to end a two-game losing streak.Crawford wasn’t consistently tested while earning his 19th career shutout. The defending Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks rebounded from listless road losses at Tampa Bay and Florida that followed a franchise-record 12-game winning streak.St. Louis’s Brian Elliott made 23 saves in his eighth straight start since taking over for Jake Allen, who suffered an injury on Jan. 8. Elliott is 5-2-2 since entering in the second period of that game against the Ducks.The Blues lost their second straight since ending a three-game winning streak and are 5-2-1 in their past eight. They lost Friday night 2-1 in a shootout in Colorado.The teams had just a handful of chances in the scoreless first period, but the Blackhawks started to apply pressure late in the second.Panarin got the Hawks on the board with 4:34 left in the period when he leaned into a one-timer from the right circle and ripped a rising shot over Elliott’s glove. Panarin, who leads rookies with 17 goals and 46 points, was set up when Patrick Kane threaded him a cross-ice backhand pass.The goal ended a Hawks scoreless streak at 155 minutes and 43 seconds. The Blackhawks hadn’t connected since 43 seconds into a 2-1 loss at Tampa Bay on Thursday night.Shaw extended it to 2-0 at 4:56 of the third, connecting on a midair deflection during the first of the game’s two power plays. Camped at the edge of the crease, Shaw used the lower portion of the shaft of his stick to tip in Marian Hossa‘s shot from the left circle.Crawford was busiest late in the final 2 minutes after the Blues pulled Elliott for an extra attacker.
NOTES—St. Louis C David Backes played in his 700th NHL game, becoming the fifth Blues player to reach that milestone. …Richard Panik was back in the Hawks lineup after being benched the last two games for missing a team game-day skate in Tampa last Thursday. … F Jiri Sekac was a healthy scratch after making his Blackhawks debut in Florida on Friday. He was acquired from Anaheim for F Ryan Garbutt last Thursday. … The Blackhawks don’t play at home again until Feb. 9.