No Rose, no Butler, under the weather Gasol? No problem!

Chicago Bulls Logo - Red bull with script above head

All season long there’s been a debate in Chicago: Are the Bulls led by homegrown star Derrick Rose, or by emerging star Jimmy Butler? On Wednesday, they were neither.With Rose and Butler both out with injuries, the team was led by committee, a cobbled-together group of role players who stepped forward and beat the Washington Wizards 109-104.Taj Gibson and E’Twaun Moore scored 17 for the Bulls and Tony Snell was 4 for 5 from 3-point range and finished with 16 points to lead the cast of fill-ins. Doug McDermott and Mike Dunleavy each scored 14. ”I had to look at the names on the back of the jerseys,” Dunleavy joked about the Bulls’ weird lineup. ”I didn’t even recognize some of them.” Besides missing Rose and Butler, who has missed seven games with a knee injury, the Bulls are without Nikola Mirotic, who has appendicitis, and have played since Jan. 15 without Joakim Noah because of a shoulder injury. ”It says a lot about our team, it’s not just one or two guys,” McDermott said. ”We’ve got a lot of guys on this team that are capable.” Regular starter Pau Gasol, who missed practice on Tuesday and was playing with the flu, narrowly missed a triple-double, finishing with 15 rebounds, 10 points and nine assists in the Bulls’ third straight victory.Bradley Beal led the Wizards with 19 points. Garrett Temple scored 18 and Ramon Sessions and John Wall added 16. Markieff Morris had 10 rebounds for the Wizards. ”We didn’t come out with defensive urgency,” Wall said. ”They were moving the ball, getting whatever they wanted.” After the teams played evenly in the first half, another Bulls bench player, Aaron Brooks, keyed a run at the end of the second half that gave the Bulls the lead, which they wouldn’t give up. Brooks hit a soft jumper to tie the score and then a driving layup to give the Bulls a 57-55 halftime lead.The Bulls took control in the third behind 3-pointers from Snell, Moore and Dunleavy. They would lead by as much as 15, with McDermott getting a couple of thundering second-half dunks that brought the crowd to its feet.Wizards coach Randy Wittman said Washington wasn’t focused defensively after the break. ”We come out at the start of the second half, it’s a two-point game,” Wittman said. ”We give up three layups and three catch-and-shoot 3s in the first three minutes. They score 15 in the first three minutes. … What’d we score, 104? You should win that. We only average 102.” Rose said before the game that he was sitting for precautionary reasons, but that his hamstring had been bothering him a couple of days.Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said he was particularly proud of bench players stepping up in light of Rose’s last-minute decision. ”It’s the next man up mentality,” said Hoiberg. ”It’s not an ideal situation, but it’s what guys like Justin Holiday, Tony Snell, E’Twaun Moore, it’s why you play this game. It’s for opportunities like this when your main players aren’t out there.”


NOTES—Justin Holiday got his first minutes since being acquired from Atlanta in a trade on Feb. 18, and hit his first shot in a Bulls uniform, a 3-pointer in the first quarter. Holiday finished with three points…..The Bulls announced their new D-League team will be called the Windy City Bulls. The team will begin play with the 2016-17 season and play its home games at Sears Centre Arena in the Chicago suburb of Hoffman Estates…..Alan Anderson returned to the lineup for the Wizards, playing for the first time this season after surgery on his left ankle. He finished with nine points in 16 minutes. … Gary Neal missed his seventh straight game with right leg soreness…..Despite the makeshift starting lineup, all five Bulls starters scored in double figures. … Since Jan. 9, the Bulls have had eight players miss games for a total of 60 lost games, tied for second-most games lost to injury over that span. …The Bulls are 6-1 without Rose in the lineup….The Bulls are at Atlanta on Friday night.

Cats can’t hold one point halftime lead, fall to Michigan

Northwestern Wildcats (1981 - Pres)

ANN ARBOR—Michigan coach John Beilein said he rarely talks about the NCAA Tournament during the regular season, but Wednesday night’s home game with Northwestern was the exception.Right there in the pre-game notes Beilein shared with his team – beside how they will defend the Wildcats’ ball screens and other details – was a note to ”play this game like an NCAA Tournament bid is on the line.” With that kind of prize potentially at stake, the Wolverines came out flat but eventually rallied for a 72-63 win over Northwestern in front of a quarter-full Crisler Center crowd that braved a winter storm that hit the area.The second-half spark came from Aubrey Dawkins, who salvaged an otherwise dreadful 3-point shooting night for the Wolverines. A Dawkins 3-pointer put the Wolverines (20-9, 10-6 Big Ten) ahead for good, 57-54, with 4:18 left. The sophomore also hit a pair of 3s over an 80-second stretch midway through the second half to tie it at 44. Michigan took its first lead moments later on a free throw by Kameron Chatman.It was a needed boost for a Michigan team that entered the game shooting 40 percent from behind the 3-point line and making a Big Ten-best 10.2 per game. The Wolverines were 4 of 14 from behind the arc Wednesday, missing their first nine attempts before a Duncan Robinson shot from the corner at the halftime buzzer pulled Michigan within 29-28.On Wednesday, Michigan missed its first eight shots and was scoreless for nearly six minutes before a basket by Zak Irvin made it 10-2. The Wildcats would lead by as many as 13 points. ”I think that’s as good of a win as we’ve had all year,” Beilein said. ”We trailed 17-4 to a very veteran team that was just carving us up out there and we didn’t cave.” Taking away the Wolverines’ 3-point shooting was part of Northwestern coach Chris Collins’ plan. How the game played out over the final minutes was not. ”I thought the game came down to the last five minutes and, quite frankly, Michigan’s guys were tougher than our guys. When the game was there to be won, they made the plays they had to make,” Collins said. ”We wanted to take away their threes, and we did that other than Aubrey Dawkins getting three in the second half, which were huge.” With its long-distance shots not falling, Michigan turned to the penetration games of guards Muhammad-Ali Abdur Rahkman, who scored 19 points, and Derrick Walton Jr., who finished with 16 points. Rahkman scored seven points in a key 13-2 first-half run that pulled Michigan to within 19-17.Collins said he’s a ”big fan” of Rahkman, who has replaced Michigan senior Caris Levert in the starting lineup since Levert was lost to a leg injury. ”I think he’s a tough-minded player, he competes, makes a lot of winning plays and was a huge factor in why they won tonight,” Collins said. Alex Olah scored 19 points and grabbed five rebounds for Northwestern (17-11, 5-10), matching his best offensive output in the nine games he’s played since missing six contests with a foot injury.The 7-foot senior center eclipsed his season average of 10.6 points with 5:27 left in the first half and followed that with just his seventh 3-point basket of the year two possessions later to finish with 14 first-half points.Olah dominated Michigan twice last season, averaging 23.5 points in two games, including a 25-point performance that remains his career high. ”If he played against us every game, he’d be a lottery pick,” John Beilein said. Tre Demps and Aaron Falzon each scored 14 points for the Wildcats, who led by as many as 13 in the first half.

NOTES—Northwestern was playing for the first time in eight days, the longest break in its schedule since early December. It was also the third time this season a Big Ten opponent had a bye in its league schedule before playing Michigan…..Northwestern hosts Rutgers on Saturday.

ISU too much for Salukis, Redbirds clinch eith 2nd or 3rd seed in MVC Arch Madness

NORMAL—Paris Lee made four 3-pointers, had four assists and finished with a career-high 21 points to lead Illinois State to a 73-59 win over Southern Illinois on Wednesday night, ensuring the Redbirds a two or three seed in the Missouri Valley Conference tournament.DeVaughn Akoon-Purcell scored 16, Deontae Hawkins added 15 and the Redbirds (18-12, 12-5) led 36-15 at halftime, holding the Salukis to the fewest first-half points scored by an opponent this season.The Salukis trimmed the deficit to 41-23 on a dunk by Armon Fletcher with 16:18 left, but the Redbirds scored eight-straight points and led by 26 with 9:13 to go.Rudy Stradnieks pulled the Salukis within 20 with a jumper with 3:13 left, but SIU got no closer.Sean O’Brien scored 14, Fletcher had 13 and Bola Olaniyan grabbed 12 rebounds for Southern Illinois (21-9, 10-7), who will be seeded either fourth or fifth in the tournament.

Shockers long ball does in Ramblers

Ron Baker hit three 3-pointers and finished with 19 points and Anton Grady scored 17 on 5-of-7 shooting to lead Wichita State to a 76-54 win over Loyola on Wednesday night.Baker scored seven during a 10-2 run to open the game and Wichita State never trailed.Grady made a pair of free throws to put the Shockers (22-7, 15-2 Missouri Valley Conference) up by 18 with 2:52 left in the first half before taking a 37-27 lead into the break.Wichita State led by double figures throughout the second half.Devon Turk hit 4 of 6 3-pointers and finished with 18 points for Loyola (14-15, 7-10). Montel James scored 14 with 10 rebounds.Wichita State made 23 of 27 (85 percent) foul shots while the Ramblers hit 13 of 21.

Bulls honor Kobe, then beat Lakers

Chicago Bulls Logo - Red bull with script above head

Pau Gasol said it was special to face Kobe Bryant one last time on Sunday night.And even better to win the final matchup against his former teammate. ”Without a question,” Gasol said. ”It’s always better to win.” Derrick Rose and E’Twaun Moore had 24 points apiece to lead the Bulls to a 126-115 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers in Bryant’s final game at the United Center.Moore, who was 10 for 14 from the field, tied his career high. Gasol had 21 points, Mike Dunleavy and Bobby Portis each scored 17 and Doug McDermott added 16 as the Bulls won their second straight.Bryant finished with 22 points on 8-for-20 shooting in 27 minutes. ”Not many players have played 20 years in this league, especially as aggressive as he plays every night,” Gasol said. The Bulls played a video tribute to Bryant as the Lakers’ starters were introduced. Rose referred to Bryant as his generation’s Michael Jordan, and the salute ended with Gasol introducing his former Los Angeles teammate.Bryant received a standing ovation and the crowd broke into a ”Kobe! Kobe!” chant.He has received similar tributes in other cities during his farewell tour, but said this one was different because it’s where Jordan, his idol, played for so long. ”It’s always been different from the first time I played here,” Bryant said. ”There’s such an air. You can feel the electricity in the building, to feel the championships and the history.” Early in the third quarter, Bryant hit back-to-back jumpers to tie the score at 66. Gasol answered with a 3-pointer to spark a string of eight straight points for a 74-66 Bulls lead. The Bulls had a 98-81 lead at the end of the third quarter and stretched it to 100-81 in the opening minute of the fourth.Bryant started the period on the bench and the United Center fans – sensing he might not return – chanted his name on a few occasions.Before Bryant returned, Los Angeles made a run, cutting the lead to 108-105 on Nick Young‘s 3-pointer midway through the fourth. The Lakers, though, couldn’t get any closer.Bryant returned with 3:08 remaining and the score 117-110. He left with 45.3 seconds left and the Bulls up 124-113.After the game, Bryant said it was strange watching Gasol introduce him because he thought they would retire together on the same team. ”That’s the last time I’m going to face him,” Bryant said. ”That’s weird … unless we play pick-up ball in Barcelona somewhere.”


NOTES—Bryant played with a dislocated middle finger on his right hand. ”It’s a little numb but I still feel the ball pretty well,” he said……Jimmy Butler (sprained left knee) and Nikola Mirotic (appendicitis) are still at least two weeks from returning to action, according to coach Fred Hoiberg. ”He’s still not able to do much running; he still has pain in that abdomen,” Hoiberg said of Mirotic…..Before the game, Bryant was asked what stands out from the games he played in the United Center against Jordan….”Getting schooled for a baseline dunk the first time I faced him,” Bryant said, referring to a game during his rookie season in 1996. ”That was pretty cool. It really was. I knew he was going to do it because I had seen him do it so many times. But the timing is different on TV and in the game.”….During the game, Bryant said a fan sitting courtside yelled at him to ”give me one dunk.””I said, `Dude, if I could I would,”’ Bryant said….Lakers rookie D’Angelo Russell moved back into the starting lineup and coach Byron Scott said after the game Russell will start the rest of the season…..The Lakers play the Milwaukee Bucks at the Bradley Center on Monday….The Bulls face the Washington Wizards on Wednesday.

Badgers use 17-0 run to overtake Illini

Illinois Fighting Illini (2004 - 2013)

MADISON—For nearly 28 minutes on Sunday night, Illinois kept hitting tough shots and Wisconsin kept missing them from all over the floor.It added up to 13-point deficit with about 12 minutes to go, the type of adversity that might have tripped up the Badgers a few months ago.But things have changed at Wisconsin.Ethan Happ had 20 points and 12 rebounds, and helped spark a 17-0 run that allowed Wisconsin to roar back from its double-digit deficit in the second half of a 69-60 win on Sunday night over Illinois. ”It wasn’t exactly pretty,” interim coach Greg Gard said, ”but that resolve, that fight, that grit … shows that they’re maturing.” Happ, an athletic 6-foot-9 freshman, had three steals during the decisive run for the Badgers (17-10, 9-5 Big Ten), who avoided a potentially damaging loss to their NCAA tournament resume. The Badgers lost to lowly Western Illinois and Milwaukee at home in nonconference play. They also have victories over ranked conference opponents Michigan State, Maryland and Indiana.Now they can also take heart with the team’s best comeback win since overcoming a 15-point deficit in the second half at home to unbeaten and No. 1 Ohio State on Feb. 12, 2011.Nigel Hayes scored 13 of his 17 points in the second half after being held without a field goal in the first half. The Badgers go-to forward bounced back after shooting 1 of 13 for five points in a 69-57 loss last week to No. 8 Michigan State.There was a ”little bit of a hangover” from the Spartans game, said Bronson Koenig, who finished with 14 points. ”It happens to everyone … I’m glad we’re resilient and matured a little bit tonight,” he added. Malcolm Hill scored 20 points and Kendrick Nunn added 15 for Illinois (12-15, 4-10). The high-scoring duo hit all the tough shots until the Illini became unglued in the second half.Illinois went more than seven minutes of the half without a field goal, and coach John Groce appeared unhappy at times with the officials with a foul disparity favoring Wisconsin.The Illini were whistled for 19 fouls in the second half to seven for Wisconsin. ”Fouling is a mistake. We don’t want to do that. We take a lot of pride in defending without fouling,” Groce said. Happ, Hayes and guard Koenig seized on almost every opportunity during the second half run, a stark contrast to the first half for the team. The Badgers shot 8 of 28 from the field and 1 of 13 from the 3-point arc before halftime, and the slump stretched early into the second half.Trailing 46-33, Hayes got the run started with a jumper with 11:55 left.Michael Finke finally ended the Badgers’ surge with a dunk with 5:09 left to get Illinois within 50-48.But in between the Illini missed six field goals, two foul shots and committed turnovers on four straight possessions. Illinois finished with 12 turnovers on the night. ”When you have 12 turnovers in a low-possession game, that’s not good enough,” Groce said. An Illinois bench already short-handed by injuries and an off-court issue got thinner because of the foul problems. It led to a significant edge at the foul line for Wisconsin, which was 26 of 33. Illinois was 7 of 10. ”We’ve got to figure out how we play harder without fouling,” Groce said. ”I thought that was maybe the biggest difference in the game.” Defensively, Wisconsin slowed down Hill in the second half. Gard said he decided to switch less often, and put the 6-foot-9 Hayes on Hill. Illinois’ 6-6 guard hit his last field goal with 12:22 left.


NOTES—The Illini last won in Madison in 2010. … Groce’s team was looking for consecutive Big Ten wins for the first time since closing out last season’s home schedule with victories over Northwestern and Nebraska….The Badgers extended their home winning streak to five games. … Wisconsin finished the night shooting 19 of 44 (43 percent) and 5 of 20 from 3-point territory. … Happ finished with six steals, the most by a Badgers player since Joe Krabbenhoft had six in 2009 against Ohio State…..Illinois hosts No. 22 Indiana on Thursday.

Ramblers beat Missouri State 75-62

SPRINGFIELD, Mo.—Devon Turk scored 20 points and hit five 3-pointers as Loyola used a big second half to beat Missouri State 75-62 on Sunday.Turk was 7-of-10 shooting from the field, including 5 of 6 behind the arc.Turk hit a 3-pointer with 7:12 remaining to extend Loyola’s lead to 62-50 and the Ramblers led by double figures the rest of the way.Missouri State went without a field goal for nearly six minutes in the second half, which ended on a dunk by Camyn Boone with 4:42 left.Montel James added 14 points with 10 rebounds for Loyola (14-14, 7-9 Missouri Valley). He made 10 of the Ramblers’ 14 free throws – on just 12 attempts. Milton Doyle added 12 points.Dequon Miller led Missouri State (11-17, 7-9) with 16 points. Boone had 12 while Jarred Dixon and Chris Kendrix added 10 apiece.

Flames lose home finale 74-63 to Oakland

Kay Felder had 20 points and 10 assists, Jalen Hayes had 15 points and 13 rebounds and Oakland turned back UIC 74-63 on Sunday.Nick Daniels hit all four of his 3-point attempts and added 18 points for the Golden Grizzlies (20-10, 12-5 Horizon League), who reached 20 wins for the first time in four seasons.Felder scored nine straight points, the last a 3-pointer at the 5:06 mark that put Oakland in the lead for good, 29-26. The Grizzlies led 39-34 at the half. They pushed the lead to nine but couldn’t put the Flames away as Lance Whitaker’s layup cut the deficit to 61-60 with 6:03 remaining.A Daniels 3 put the lead back to six and Oakland slowly pulled away.Dikembe Dixson led UIC (5-22, 3-13) with 24 points, his fifth straight game with at least 21. He has broken 20 in nine of his last 10 games.

Hawks clobbered by Minnesota outdoors in Minneapolis 6-1

Image result for 2016 stadium series

 MINNEAPOLIS—Jason Pominville and Erik Haula each had a goal and two assists, and the Minnesota Wild celebrated the first outdoor game in franchise history with a 6-1 victory on Sunday over the Blackhawks.In front of a crowd of 50,426 at TCF Bank Stadium on the University of Minnesota campus with an ideal faceoff temperature of 35 degrees, the Wild turned the NHL’s 17th edition of open-air hockey into a romp past their postseason nemesis and primary rival.The Hawks pulled goalie Corey Crawford for Scott Darling after 19 saves in two periods. Nino Niederreiter and Ryan Carter each added a goal and an assist, and Matt Dumba and Thomas Vanek also scored.Patrick Kane ended Devan Dubnyk‘s shutout pursuit with his Western Conference-leading 35th goal midway through the third period. Dubnyk stopped 31 shots.Ten players tallied at least one point for the Wild, including all three former Golden Gophers in Vanek, Haula and Mike Reilly, whose college careers took place across the street at Mariucci Arena.The Wild improved to 4-0 under interim coach John Torchetti and 3-0 this season against the Blackhawks, the team that has eliminated them from the playoffs in each of the past three years. The Wild have scored a whopping 21 goals in those four games since the firing last week of head coach Mike Yeo.Despite the state’s rich history and nation-leading participation in the sport, the Wild had to wait awhile to play in an outdoor game. They became the 20th team to do so since the league first staged one in 2003. The Colorado Avalanche will be the 21st when they host a Stadium Series game next weekend.The space between the boards and the front row of the lower seating bowl was covered in fake snow and dotted with 211 evergreens for an up-north look, except for the oversized NHL, Blackhawks and Wild logos.There were plenty of Blackhawks fans mixed in among the locals, but they quickly went quiet. Carter took two whacks at the net on a breakaway, before Dumba swooped in to knock in the rebound just 3:25 into the game. Dumba wore excessive eye black, looking like one of the football players who usually call this facility home.Vanek tipped in a power-play shot by Pominville a few minutes later, and the Wild never let up. They took a 3-0 lead early in the second period with some slick tic-tac-toe passing from Pominville behind the net to Haula up high to Niederreiter down low.Pominville and Vanek played together with the Buffalo Sabres in the 2008 outdoor game, the first in the U.S. for the NHL.The only negative for the Wild was an injury to left wing Jason Zucker, who took an elbow to the jaw from Blackhawks defenseman Michal Rozsival in the second period and needed help to shuffle off after lying still on his side for a few minutes while five members of the Wild’s medical staff examined him.The back of Zucker’s head slammed on the ice after the collision with Rozsival, who was ejected for the hit and given a five-minute major penalty. Zucker was taken away on a cart.
NOTES—Kane has three goals and five assists in his past five games. … Pominville has 10 goals and six assists in 20 games against the Blackhawks. … Crawford has given up 14 goals in his past four games, covering only nine periods. … Wild defenseman Marco Scandella (upper body) returned from a two-game absence and had an assist. … This was the fourth outdoor game for the Blackhawks, they are now 1-3 in those games. … The Wild have a power-play goal in 11 of their past 13 games. … Haula has three goals and six assists in the past seven games…..The Hawks next play Thursday night against Nashville at the United Center.

McDermott goes off as Bulls end 5 game skid vs Toronto

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Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg pulled Doug McDermott aside Friday between practice and their game against the Toronto Raptors.He told McDermott that he had a lot of confidence in McDermott’s shot – the one he had as the nation’s leading scorer at Creighton – and that he needed him to put the ball up.

”I told him every time he shoots the ball, I think it’s going in,” Hoiberg said. ”And to go out there and play his game, and play with confidence.”

McDermott did just that, scoring a career-high 30 points off the bench to lead the Bulls to a 116-106 win over the Atlantic-leading Raptors, putting an end to their five-game slide.

”We needed that,” said the Bulls’ Derrick Rose. ”Doug came out and played aggressively … we needed that.”

Rose scored 26 and Pau Gasol added 18 points and 11 rebounds for the injury-depleted Bulls, who won for just the fifth time in their last 20 games. Kyle Lowry had 27 points to lead the Raptors. Jonas Valanciunas had 25 points and 12 rebounds for Toronto and DeMar DeRozan added 22.

The Raptors, playing their first game since returning from the All-Star break, led most of the first half but squandered it in the third quarter. Coach Dwayne Casey said his team’s poor defense made things easy for McDermott and the Bulls.

”We had no semblance of defensive presence,” Casey said. ”You give up a 37-point third quarter … give a kid a career high. If we think we’re going to go anywhere playing like that, we’re kidding ourselves.”

Hoiberg said McDermott just seemed to need a confidence booster to play like the guy drafted 11th overall last year out of Creighton, where he was the leading scorer in the nation. But like the Bulls as a whole, McDermott had struggled recently.

”It just looked to me like he had lost a little bit of confidence, and you know, he’s such a good player, such a good shooter,” Hoiberg said. Toronto was up by as much as 13 before McDermott sparked the run that put the Bulls in control. He gave the Bulls a 70-69 lead on a pull-up jumper on a fast break with 6:14 to go in the third quarter.The Bulls seemed to come alive after that, and McDermott continued his strong play in the fourth. He finished 13 for 17 from the field, and 4 for 5 from 3-point range.

McDermott said his talk with Hoiberg was short, but good.”Coach showing that he has confidence in you means a lot as a player,” McDermott said.”It was a long-time coming,” McDermott said of his performance. ”There’s been a lot of ups and downs, so far, and I just stayed with it. It’s just one game so I’m not going to get too high on myself, but it’s definitely a good start for my confidence. … Hopefully I can build off it.”

It was the eighth straight time the Bulls have beaten the Raptors going back to late 2013.The Bulls were playing without Jimmy Butler, Nikola Mirotic and Joakim Noah because of injuries….The Bulls led the league in rebounds per game with 47.94 coming into Friday night’s game. … F Taj Gibson is the only Bulls player to appear in all 54 games this season. … It could have been worse for Toronto: the last time they played the Bulls, Butler scored 40 points in the second half as part of a 42-point night…..DeRozan is one game short of tying Chris Bosh and Morris Peterson for the most wins by a player in franchise history. DeRozan has played in 231 wins over 495 games during six-plus seasons. … Luis Scola, who is averaging 9.4 ppg, was held to just two points….. The Bulls host the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday.