Bulls edge Celtics on a pair of Butler free throws with 0.9 second left.

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Jimmy Butler made two free throws with 0.9 seconds left to lift the Bulls to a 104-103 victory over the ticked off Boston Celtics on Thursday night.Butler’s clutch foul shots capped a memorable duel with fellow All-Star Isaiah Thomas in the NBA’s final game before the break. Butler and Thomas had 29 points and seven assists each.Butler was touched on the right elbow by Marcus Smart on a turnaround jumper at the final horn, drawing a foul. Butler nodded his head up and down as an incredulous Smart danced up the court in disbelief.Butler calmly drained each free throw, and Al Horford air-balled a baseline jumper on the Celtics’ last shot, giving the Bulls (28-29) consecutive wins against Eastern Conference powers Toronto and Boston (37-20). Thomas said “We won this game, Smart made a great defensive play, but that was a terrible call”. Make that check out to the National Basketball Association Isaiah!

Trimble, Maryland too much for Wildcats

Northwestern Wildcats (1981 - Pres)

EVANSTON— Maryland figured out pretty quickly that Melo Trimble had an extra gear Wednesday night, so it kept going back to the junior guard.There was never any reason to go anywhere else.Trimble scored a career-high 32 points on 12-for-17 shooting, and the 23rd-ranked Terrapins strengthened their position in the Big Ten with a 74-64 victory over Northwestern.

”Tonight was my night,” Trimble said. ”Just kept playing, and took what the defense gave me.”

Trimble repeatedly came up with big plays for the Terrapins (22-4, 10-3), driving inside for layups or connecting from long range. He made four of Maryland’s eight 3-pointers and also contributed four rebounds and three assists.It was a welcome turnaround for the Terrapins’ leading scorer after he shot just 31 percent (16 for 52) in his previous four games.

”He’s got to have the confidence. I can’t give it to him. His mom can’t give it to him,” coach Mark Turgeon said. ”He’s got to have it. He’s got to be borderline cocky out there and I think he played that way a little bit tonight.”

Anthony Cowan added 13 points and Damonte Dodd had 12 as Maryland moved into a tie with Purdue for second in the conference, just a half-game behind Wisconsin. The Terrapins visit the Badgers on Sunday.

”Just to come out here and win this game is really special to this team and gives us a lot of confidence going to Wisconsin,” Trimble said.

Northwestern (19-7, 8-5) was coming off a big 66-59 win at Wisconsin last Sunday, boosting its chances for the first NCAA Tournament appearance in the history of the program. But it got off to a slow start offensively and never recovered against Trimble and the poised Terrapins.

”We’re not capable right now of throwing up 75, 80 points,” coach Chris Collins said. ”We just don’t have enough firepower. So we have to win games 65-60. Maryland is very potent offensively. They score the ball. We just couldn’t match that.”

The Wildcats whittled a 20-point deficit to nine on Sanjay Lumpkin’s layup with 3:16 left. But Dodd responded with a rebound basket, and the Terrapins closed it out at the free throw line.Freshman Isiah Brown led Northwestern with a career-high 19 points. Vic Law had 12 points, eight rebounds and three blocked shots, and Dererk Pardon finished with 11 points.

”You can’t be sluggish from the last win,” Law said. ”You can’t be thinking about `Oh we beat Wisconsin’ because when you come in and play a team like this that’s just as good as Wisconsin they can put you in a hole like they put us in.”

The Wildcats played without Scottie Lindsey, who was sidelined by mononucleosis for the fourth straight game. The 6-foot-5 junior, who leads the Wildcats with 15.4 points per game, is day to day.With Lindsey out and Bryant McIntosh battling foul trouble, Northwestern struggled to score against Maryland’s suffocating defense. The Wildcats heated up a bit in the second half but shot 39 percent (23 for 59) for the game. McIntosh finished with nine points on 3-for-13 shooting.Maryland: Trimble and the Terrapins appear to be back on track after consecutive losses to Purdue and Penn State at the beginning of February. Maryland stopped the slide with an 86-77 victory over Ohio State on Saturday, and then stepped up with a composed effort against a Northwestern team looking for another signature win for its resume. The Wildcats miss Lindsey, but they also hurt themselves against the Terrapins. They went 13 for 23 at the line.Brown gave Northwestern a big lift in his best performance of the season. He was 6 for 15 from the field and 5 for 6 at the line. He scored just nine points in his previous two games.

”My focus is just anytime I’m out there I try to make a shot or a positive contribution,” he said.

Northwestern hosts last-place Rutgers on Saturday.

ISU escaps with 1 point win at Missouri State

SPRINGFIELD—Dontae Hawkins scored 19 points and put his team on top for good as Illinois State edged Missouri State 67-66 on Wednesday night.Tony Wills and DJ Clayton added 12 points apiece for the Redbirds (22-5, 14-1 MVC) who remain tied with Wichita State for first in the Missouri Valley Conference.Missouri State took a four-point intermission advantage to 45-37 early in the second half before a dunk and a 3-pointer by MiKyle McIntosh and a 3 by Hawkins helped put the Redbirds on top 47-45 with 11:38 to go. A flurry of six 3-pointers followed as the teams battled to a tie at 60 with 5:07 remaining. Hawkins hit a jumper and a layup back-to-back to break the Redbirds into a 67-62 lead with 1:46 left and they held on for the win.Alize Johnson scored 17 points and Jarrid Rhodes 16 for the Bears (15-13, 6-9). Missouri State has lost four straight.

Ramblers shut down Indiana State 64-46

Aundre Jackson scored 18 points and Loyola used its best defensive effort of the season to end a four-game losing streak with a 64-46 win over Indiana State on Wednesday night.Donte Ingram added 15 points and eight rebounds for the Ramblers (17-11, 7-8 Missouri Valley), who held their first opponent to less than 50 points this season. Clayton Custer had 14 points and Milton Doyle had 12.Laquarious Paige and TJ Bell had 10 apiece for the Sycamores (10-17, 4-11), who failed to reach 50 points for the first time.Leading 24-20 at the half, the Ramblers made 6 of 10 3-pointers and shot 56 percent (14 of 25) in the second half. Jackson had a 3-pointer and Custer hit a jumper and a 3 in an 8-0 burst that pushed the lead to 46-34 midway through the half.Bell made four-straight free throws before the Ramblers took charge, going on an 18-4 run to lead by 22 with less than two minutes to go.Indiana State finished at 35 percent, including 3 of 15 from 3-point range.

#2 Villanova overwhelms DePaul 75-62.

ROSEMONT—Ho-hum, just more of the same for loaded Villanova.Another homecoming for Jalen Brunson was no big deal.Brunson scored 18 points, Josh Hart had 16 and the second-ranked Wildcats cruised to a 75-62 victory against lowly DePaul on Monday night.

”In a game like this, they came out and pressured us, and your point guard has got to run the show,” Villanova coach Jay Wright said. ”Jalen did a great job mixing up driving (and) finding people. When you’re driving the ball physically and get fouled, that can take off some of the pressure.”

Brunson, a former Illinois prep star from nearby Lincolnshire, went 4 for 8 from the field and 8 for 9 at the free throw line. The sophomore also contributed four assists, four rebounds and three steals, brushing off any talk of increased pressure while playing in front of family and friends from his hometown.

”I was just focused on playing for my teammates and coaches. Honestly, it didn’t play a factor at all,” Brunson said. ”I looked at it as just another game as a team.”

Villanova (25-2, 12-2 Big East) played without Darryl Reynolds for the second straight game due to a rib injury, but the defending national champions still had more than enough to put away last-place DePaul (8-18, 1-12). Reynolds, a senior forward who started the Wildcats’ first 25 games, is day to day.Mikal Bridges scored 15 points in Villanova’s sixth straight victory, and Kris Jenkins finished with 13.

”Even now, with a shortened bench, they played really, really well together,” DePaul coach Dave Leitao said.

The Blue Demons shot 38 percent (22 for 58) from the field in their ninth straight loss. They also committed 14 turnovers, leading to 16 points for the opportunistic Wildcats.DePaul made Villanova work all the way to the very end in a 68-65 road loss on Dec. 28, but the rematch was no contest.Villanova grabbed control with an 11-1 run in the first half and then poured it on as DePaul repeatedly clanged shots off the rim and backboard. Brunson made a couple of 3-pointers from the same corner to help the Wildcats open a 33-16 lead with 3:16 left.Brunson drew an ill-advised foul on Chris Harrison-Docks near midcourt in the final seconds and hit two foul shots to make it 39-18 at the break. The Blue Demons had more turnovers (nine) than field goals (seven) at halftime.Villanova let up a bit in the second part of the second half, but it was long over by that point. Bridges’ dunk made it 48-21 with 13:03 left for the Wildcats’ biggest lead.Harrison-Docks led DePaul with 18 points. Eli Cain finished with 12 on 4-for-13 shooting.Villanova reached 25 wins for the fourth straight season and the 12th time in the history of the program. It also improved to 122-15 since the start of the 2013-14 season.With Brunson and Jenkins leading the way, the Wildcats enjoyed a huge advantage at the line. They made 26 of 32 foul shots, compared to 10 for 16 for DePaul. The Wildcats also had 12 assists on 21 field goals…..Leitao is in the second season of his second stint at the school, and there is plenty of work to do. The Blue Demons have lost their last 14 games against the Wildcats…..DePaul visits No. 24 Butler on Sunday afternoon.

NU stuns #7 Wisconsin in Madison 66-59

Northwestern Wildcats (1981 - Pres)

MADISON—The Northwestern Wildcats were dancing on the sideline before the second half started. They were downright giddy by the end of the game, stomping off the Kohl Center court.In beating No. 7 Wisconsin 66-59 on Sunday, Northwestern secured an important win for the school’s bid to make its first-ever NCAA Tournament.Bryant McIntosh scored 25 points and Dererk Pardon added 11 for the defensive-minded Wildcats (19-6, 8-4), who confounded the Big Ten-leading Badgers in part by doubling dominant big man Ethan Happ.

”I’ve talked about it since I’ve been here,” fourth-year coach Chris Collins said. ”We’re trying to build a program to emulate what Wisconsin has done.”

Nigel Hayes scored nine of his 13 points in the second half for the Badgers (21-4, 10-2), who had their eight-game winning streak snapped.The Badgers didn’t let up despite falling behind by 10 points with 1 minute left, closing to 60-55 in less than 15 seconds after Zak Showalter hit two foul shots.But McIntosh followed with two free throws with 42 seconds left, and Wisconsin ran out of time. McIntosh finished 10 of 23 from the field.

”I thought I was a gunner, but I never put 23 up in a game. … I’ve got nothing to say to him anymore,” Collins, a former Duke guard, joked as he looked in the direction of a smiling McIntosh.

Wisconsin opened the second half with a 10-0 run, looking as if it had solved its offensive woes. Northwestern pulled away for good answering with an 8-0 run capped by Pardon’s dunk with 13:24 left to take a 39-32 lead.Minus leading scorer Scottie Lindsey because of illness for a third straight game, Northwestern relied on defense to end a two-game skid.The Wildcats (40.3 percent) and Badgers (40.5 percent) led the Big Ten in field goal defense coming into the game. Wisconsin got off to a decent start from the field before the Wildcats knocked the offense out of rhythm with double-teams on Happ. NU held Wisconsin to just two field goals over the final 10 minutes of the first half to take a 31-22 lead at halftime.Wisconsin: Happ isn’t known for his jumper. But he made an open 17-footer early in the first half that had Badgers fans going nuts. One of the top big men in the Big Ten, Happ could be even more difficult to guard if the 6-foot-10 forward poses even the slightest threat of being able to hit from outside the post. But double-teams were the bigger problem on Sunday, especially when Happ got the ball deep in the post.Just as important for the Wildcats were the double-teams on Happ that forced turnovers and threw the Badgers out of rhythm. Wisconsin did get some decent looks at times, especially early in the second half. Overall, they didn’t hit enough open shots.Wisconsin similarly had some trouble against double-teams in a 70-69 win in overtime on Thursday at Nebraska.

”We just made a conscious decision. … We’ve got to take away the paint,” Collins said.

Bronson Koenig, who is playing with a nagging lower left leg injury, was 1 of 8 for two points in 30 minutes, missing all five of his 3-point attempts. Gard said the injury played a role in part in sitting his best perimeter player during a key stretch in the middle of the second half.At one point in the middle of the game, Wisconsin went with four guards on the court but without their top three players in Happ, Hayes and Koenig.NU Plays the first of two home games this week by hosting No. 21 Maryland on Wednesday.

Bulls without Butler, Wade(again)hammered by T-Wolves

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MINNEAPOLIS—Andrew Wiggins scored 27 points and Karl-Anthony Towns added 22 to help the Minnesota Timberwolves beat the severely short-handed Bulls 117-89 on Sunday.Ricky Rubio had 17 points, 11 assists and six rebounds and Minnesota shot 54 percent to help coach Tom Thibodeau sweep the season series against his former team. Gorgui Dieng added 10 points and 13 rebounds.Doug McDermott scored 16 points and made four 3-pointers for the Bulls, who were missing Jimmy Butler, Dwyane Wade, Nikola Mirotic and Paul Zipser with injuries. The Bulls turned the ball over 18 times, were outrebounded 46-35 and were outscored 56-38 in the paint.

Hawks end road trip with 5th straight win- 5-1 over Oilers

EDMONTON—The Blackhawks can say they earned their week off.Richard Panik scored twice and set up another goal and the Blackhawks beat the Edmonton Oilers 5-1 on Saturday night for their fifth straight win.Patrick Kane had a goal and two assists and Trevor van Riemsdyk and Artem Anisimov also scored for the Blackhawks, who had lost three in a row before their recent run.

”It’s tough to win five games in a row on the road,” Joel Quenneville said. ”Our guys played a lot of hockey and our guys that went to the All-Star Game, they didn’t get much of a break as well. Hopefully everybody gets away and comes back refreshed and tries to recapture this feeling we have right now.”

Patrick Maroon scored for the Oilers, who have lost four of five.

”It was just mistakes that shouldn’t happen anymore at this point of the year,” Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl said. ”It was a frustrating loss for us.”

The Oilers were coming off of their own five-day break, but coach Todd McLellan didn’t see that as an excuse for their play.

”We didn’t have a lot of emotion,” he said. ”There wasn’t a single Blackhawk who was mad at an Oiler all night until the last two minutes. I was disappointed in the loss, the power play, the penalty kill but mostly in the emotional level of our team.”

Scott Darling made 30 saves. Cam Talbot started in goal for Edmonton and allowed four goals on 20 shots before being relieved by Laurent Brossoit.Edmonton started the scoring 4:01 into the opening period when Connor McDavid deftly stole a puck from defender Niklas Hjalmarsson and sent a backhand pass in front to Maroon, who beat Darling for his 19th goal of the season.The Blackhawks scored less than two minutes later when Panik walked in from the point to take a pass and blasted a shot past Talbot.The Blackhawks surged ahead midway through the first with a power-play goal as Kane was able to bank a shot off Talbot’s skate from behind the net during a scramble in front for his 19th of the year.The Hawks made it 3-1 before the nine-minute mark of the second period when Edmonton’s Oscar Klefbom had a chance to clear but instead put it right on van Riemsdyk’s stick, and he beat Talbot high to the glove side.The Hawks scored another power-play goal late in the second period, when Panik swatted in a rebound during another scramble for his 14th of the season.Brossoit came in to replace Talbot for the third.Anisimov battled hard in front of the net to add another goal, his 20th, with four minutes left in the third.

”It seemed like we got better and better over the last five games and it’s more of the team game that we’re going to need going forward,” Duncan Keith said. ”I think we’re starting to show some of our potential.”

NOTES—The Oilers were returning from their five-day break, while it was the last game for the Blackhawks before starting theirs. … It was the second of three meetings between the two teams this season. The Oilers won the previous game at home on Nov. 21, when Talbot recorded a shutout in a 5-0 victory….The Blackhawks are off until Feb. 18, when they host the same Oilers.

Listless Bulls lose to lowly Suns 115-97

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PHOENIX—Taj Gibson was sitting on a stool somewhat befuddled after the Bulls mostly aimless 115-97 loss to the Phoenix Suns. Sure, the game was disappointing, the Bulls essentially outplayed all game by the Western Conference’s worst team, one that hadn’t won at home in almost a month. But it was the Bulls curiously favorable place in the Eastern Conference, still seventh even as the Bulls lost in a second straight blowout on national TV to plunge to 26-28, that has Gibson perplexed and bemused.

“Awful, awful,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said in curt post game comments. “They outcompeted us in every category, every category tonight, rebounding, loose balls; transition 19-6. That tells you all you need to know.”

And yet as Gibson pondered the bleakness around him, Jimmy Butler unsure about whether he’ll play Sunday in Minnesota with ongoing heel problems, Dwyane Wade with two big bags of ice on his wrists after a brutal fall, Gibson shook his head about the state of the conference. The Hawks, Pacers, Pistons, Bucks and Knicks had lost again, and there were the Bulls stumbling home from this road trip, now 2-3 and still a game and a half ahead of falling out of the playoffs.

“If you look around you really can’t dwell because you have like nine other teams (in the East) doing the same things you are doing,” noted Gibson. “Just up and down, up and down, take two steps (forward,) take two steps back; that’s how everyone is going. It’s tough. Really tough. Just have to go with the punches; it’s part of the NBA, I guess.”

At least for now for the Bulls, and what doesn’t look like it’s changing any time soon.Butler led the Bulls with 20 points but on six of 16 shooting and Wade had 18 points on seven of 16 shooting. Robin Lopez had 12 points and seven rebounds and Gibson 10 points and six rebounds, and Doug McDermott 11 points off the bench, but just on four of six shooting.Though the significant numbers were the Bulls being outrebounded by a Suns team without center Alex Len suspended and Tyson Chandler out early in the game with a sprained ankle. Wide body reserve Alan Williams, who spent part of the season in the D-league after last season in China and has been a perennial Summer League All-Star, bounced Bulls all over the place with 14 points and 11 rebounds. The Suns guards shot by the generally out of position Bulls for the 19 fast break points and 50.5 percent shooting with 58 inside points. And even with their height and strength advantage inside, the Bulls kept firing up jump shots.

“Every team doesn’t do that,” Wade said firmly when asked about the Bulls inability to string together multiple wins and perhaps separate themselves from the bottom of the playoffs. “We (Miami) didn’t do that last year. We didn’t win that many games in a row like that. It doesn’t happen for every team. We’ve had a streak where we’ve won three a couple of times this year. No four or five. I’ve played on teams where we haven’t. It’s not about that. This one is behind us. We still have a chance to have a good trip; 3-3 is a good trip. We’re playing a team who beat us last time at our place (Minnesota Sunday). We have to go in there and take care of business and have a good trip.”

And it would look pretty good with a split, but it’s not happening the way the Bulls played Friday, and even beyond the obvious.

“A game like today if you look at it statistically, the thing that we gave up is how we lose games,” said Wade. “We turn the ball over a lot, give up a lot of transition points and not have a lot of ball movement. And we lose the rebounding war. Those are the things that don’t give us a chance to win.”

It was more so a lethargy on offense and defense. The Bulls repeatedly gave up wide open mid range shots as the Suns penetrated and pulled up off screens. The Bulls faded back into the paint instead of challenging shots. The floor balance was awful with shots going up and both Wade and Jerian Grant caught in corners or on the wings and not getting back in transition. The Suns basically packed the lane with three or four players as Butler had multiple shots blocked.Though that also seemed a function of his heel injury. Butler was uncertain right up to game time, and then he seemed to tweak it coming down after a driving bank shot late in the game. A few plays after that, Bledsoe rolled into Butler’s knee, knocking Butler to the floor. Butler stayed in the game, though not for long as Hoiberg soon cleared the bench with the Bulls trailing 104-87 with 4:20 left in the game.

Hawks at last beat Jets. Kane moves up latter some more

WINNIPEG—Patrick Kane and the Blackhawks finally beat the Winnipeg Jets.Kane and linemates Artem Anisimov and Artemi Panarin each scored and combined for seven points to help the Blackhawks beat the Jets 5-2 on Friday night. Winnipeg won the first four games between the teams this season, outscoring the Hawks 14-5.

”I think we had a great first. That’s the way we want to play right there,” Kane said. ”Every line was going, we had a couple good power plays. We didn’t score on them, but had some chances, got the lead and great period overall. That’s the way we want to play.”

Duncan Keith’s late goal was the winner, and Marian Hossa also scored.The goaltenders were busy in the fifth and final meeting of the season between the Central Division rivals.Corey Crawford made 28 saves in his 22nd victory of the season.

”I think, definitely, we played really good in our end,” Hossa said. ”Obviously, Corey stood on his head tonight, but I think overall we’re improving defensively which is a good sign.”

Winnipeg’s Connor Hellebuyck stopped 31 of the 34 shots he faced.

”(Hellebuyck was) real good,” Jets coach Paul Maurice said. ”Busy overall, for sure early which is tough. You’d love to see him ease into a game. It was lots of action to the net early in the game.”

Bryan Little and Adam Lowry scored for Winnipeg.

”I thought we had a bit of a slow start. I thought they came out hungry and controlled a lot of the play early in the game and got that goal right away,” Little said. ”I thought we did a good job in the second and the third battling back and getting our chances and making it a close game.”

Kane opened the scoring at 15:37 of the opening period with his 18th of the season, firing a one-timer off Panarin’s long cross-ice feed to beat Hellebuyck low to the glove side.The goal was Kane’s 269th, moving him past Tony Amonte for the most goals by an American in Blackhawks history, and into sixth on the overall franchise list.Little found the equalizer for Winnipeg at 1:43 of the second, quickly grabbing a net-side rebound off a Tobias Enstrom point shot.Anisimov scored late in the second. Kane set up Panarin for a one timer and Anisimov buried the rebound, moving him into a brief tie with Hossa for the team lead in goals at 19.Keith added his goal with less than three minutes remaining, scoring his fifth of the season on a point-blast to make it 3-1. Hossa moved back into the team goal lead with a short-handed empty-netter, and Panarin added another into an empty net to ice it with 16 seconds left.Blackhawks are at Edmonton on Saturday.