Hawks offense goes sour again in 4-2 loss in Vancouver

VANCOUVER—The big smile on Brendan Gaunce’s face spoke volumes.Gaunce scored his second goal of the game late in the third period, and the Vancouver Canucks overcame an early deficit to beat the Blackhawks 4-2 on Thursday night.His first goal in the second period tied the game 1-1. He scored his second with just 2:58 left in the third period. It came as the Blackhawks were pressing after cutting the Canuck lead to 3-2.

”It’s great to score goals,” Gaunce said. ”You gain confidence offensively.”

Gaunce has played 109 games over parts of three seasons for Vancouver, collecting five goals and six assists. The 23-year-old once went 95 games without a goal. His previous two goals this season came on the road, so his last goal Thursday earned a huge cheer from the announced crowd of 18,144.

”I couldn’t really hear,” he said. ”I was pretty zoned out after I scored. It’s good to contribute.”

Daniel Sedin and Bo Horvat also scored for the Canucks. Troy Stecher added two assists, and Vancouver won for the fifth time in eight games after a 2-11-3 stretch.The Canucks also won back-to-back games on home ice for the second time this season.Nick Schmaltz and Alex DeBrincat scored for the Hawks, who ended a two-game winning streak. Duncan Keith had two assists.The Hawks have not won three straight games since a five-game streak Dec. 8-17.Jacob Markstrom stopped 26 shots for Vancouver. Forsberg, making his third straight start, stopped 17 shots.Daniel Sedin made it 3-1 for Vancouver with 2:55 gone in the third. Jake Virtanen collected a puck in the slot, spun and fired a quick shot that Sedin tipped.DeBrincat drew the Hawks within in a goal when he scored on a slap shot over Markstrom’s glove at 10:19.The Canucks used a pair of second-period goals to take a 2-1 lead.Stecher also had a hand in Horvat’s goal at 9:58. He took a slap shot from the blue line that Horvat tipped for his 12th of the season.Schmaltz showed some speed in scoring the only goal of the first period. He took a pass from Brandon Saad, cut across the front of the net, then beat Markstrom with a backhand at 15:15 for his 14th goal.Jonathan Toews said the Blackhawks gave up too many good chances.

”We need to be better defensively,” he said. ”When pucks are around our net we have to make sure we are a little bit tougher and we’re not giving them easy chances around our net.”

NOTES—Erik Gudbranson returned to Vancouver’s lineup after missing five games with back spasms. … Blackhawk left wing Patrick Sharp was a healthy scratch for the third straight game. … Vancouver’s Sam Gagner didn’t return for the second period after suffering an injury when hitting Tomas Jurco in the opening period.

Bradley edges Loyola, just one game behind Ramblers in the MVC

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PEORIA—Elijah Childs scored 18 points to lead Bradley past Missouri Valley Conference leader Loyola 69-67 on Wednesday night.Bradley (17-7, 7-4 Missouri Valley Conference) has won four straight, is 12-0 at home this season and has a 14-game home win streak dating to last season. Loyola(18-5, 8-3) had its seven-game win streak snapped.Marques Townes made a 3-pointer for Loyola with 1:05 left to tie it at 64. Darrell Brown made four free throws, but Townes hit another 3 to pull the Ramblers to 68-67. Nate Kennell split a pair of free throws, and the Ramblers had a uncontested 3-point attempt hit the back of the iron at the buzzer.Donte Thomas, Dwayne Lautier-Ogunleye, and Kennell each scored 12 points for the Braves.Clayton Custer made five 3-pointers and finished with 23 points to lead Loyola.

No Mirotic,Markkanen, or Dunn, Bulls blown away by Portland.

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PORTLAND—CJ McCollum scored a franchise-record 28 points in the first quarter before finishing with a career-high 50 through three, and the Portland Trail Blazers took advantage of the short-handed Bulls for a 124-108 victory Wednesday night.McCollum’s 28 points in the opening quarter were the most by an NBA player this season. His final tally was nine points shy of the team record set by Damian Lillard last season.Lillard also sat out the final period after adding 13 points and seven assists for the Blazers, who led by as many as 29. It was Portland’s fourth straight win overall, a season high, and the club’s eighth in a row at home.Zach LaVine had a season-best 23 points in the Bulls fifth consecutive loss.Lauri Markkanen was not with the Bulls because he was attending to a personal issue, the team said. The rookie is averaging 15.3 points and 7.7 rebounds per game. Paul Zipser started in his place.Kris Dunn, averaging 13.7 points and 6.4 assists, missed his sixth straight game after a concussion.The Bulls decided to sit forward Nikola Mirotic while he reportedly seeks a trade. Coach Fred Hoiberg said before the game that the 6-foot-10 forward remained back at the team hotel. Meanwhile, rumors swirled that the Bulls had a deal with the Pelicans but it fell apart.Portland shot 74 percent in the first quarter paced by McCollum, who made four 3-pointers in the period and finished with six for the game.Pat Connaughton’s 3-pointer put the Blazers up 54-28. McCollum punctuated the first half with a dunk, and the Blazers went into the break with a 67-44 lead.McCollum finished the half with 32 points, one shy of Lillard’s franchise record.

”I thought we had some good looks early, we didn’t make them, and then you have to guard. That’s kind of been the story of these slow starts, letting teams get comfortable and in a rhythm,” Hoiberg said. ”Our game plan was to come out, try to blitz him (McCollum). He was splitting our double teams and obviously made tough shots. Give him credit for coming out of the game and setting the tone.”

After he sat down in the third quarter, McCollum smiled when the crowd chanted ”We want CJ!”The Blazers did lose center Jusuf Nurkic in the fourth quarter to injury. Afterward, they said it was a bruised left quad.Lillard went into the game needing 25 points to reach 10,000. He’ll be the seventh Blazers player to reach the mark, joining Clyde Drexler, LaMarcus Aldridge, Terry Porter, Cliff Robinson, Jerome Kersey and Jim Paxson. The Bulls fell behind 23-2,28-5 & 30-7 before trailing after the first quarter 43-19.

 

Ramblers continue to dominate MVC, rout UNI 70-47

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Clayton Custer scored a season-high 21 points on 9-of-12 shooting and Missouri Valley Conference leader Loyola beat Northern Iowa 70-47 on Sunday for its seventh straight victory.Loyola (18-4, 8-2) hasn’t won seven straight league games since a 12-game streak during the 1984-85 season. The Ramblers are 16-1 with Custer in the lineup – including a 65-59 victory over then-No. 5 Florida in December. He missed five straight games after sustaining an ankle injury against the Gators.Donte Ingram had 16 points and eight rebounds, Cameron Krutwig added 14 points and eight boards for Loyola.Loyola leads conference foes Bradley, Southern Illinois and Drake – all at 6-4 – with eight games to play.Klint Carlson and Tywhon Pickford each scored 14 for UNI(11-11, 3-7). The Panthers shot 36.5 percent, including 4 of 21 from distance.

DePaul rally falls short against Seton Hall

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Angel Delgado grabbed 19 rebounds to become the all-time Big East leader in conference games, Myles Powell scored 21 points and Seton Hall defeated DePaul 86-70 on Sunday.Delgado has 719 rebounds in conference games, passing former Syracuse and NBA star Derrick Coleman, who had the record since 1990 with 701. Delgado is the active Division-I leader with 1,305 rebounds and 65 double-doubles after scoring 10 points Sunday.Khadeen Carrington scored 15 points and Desi Rodriguez 14 for the Pirates (16-5, 5-3), who snapped a two-game skid.Tre’Darius McCallum scored 16 points, Eli Cain 11 and three other Blue Demons had 10 each.Seton Hall led the entire way and was up 46-31 at halftime. DePaul cut the lead to single digits with eight minutes left in the game after a 9-0 run but Powell responded with a 3-pointer and the lead climbed to 19 in the final minute.

Bulls lose to Bucks, now four losses in a row.

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The Milwaukee Bucks came into the season expecting to be in the top half of the Eastern Conference playoff race. They just might make a run if they keep playing like this.Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 27 points and Milwaukee beat the Bulls 110-96 on Sunday.The All-Star forward added nine rebounds and eight assists to help the Bucks improve to 3-0 since interim coach Joe Prunty replaced the fired Jason Kidd. Milwaukee hasn’t exactly been beating the heavyweights, knocking off Phoenix and Brooklyn before taking out the Bulls.Even so, this is encouraging.

”I see that guys are playing harder,” Antetokounmpo said. ”Some guys – I don’t know what they’re thinking in their heads. Maybe (they were) not OK with what happened. I just see guys playing hard.”

Khris Middleton added 20 points and seven rebounds. Jason Terry came off the bench to score a season-high 12 points, nailing four of Milwaukee’s 13 3-pointers.The Bucks shot just over 53 percent overall for the game and used a big second quarter to build a 19-point halftime lead, sending the Bulls to their fourth straight loss.Denzel Valentine scored 18 for the Bulls. Lauri Markkanen added 17 points and 10 rebounds, but Zach LaVine had another rough outing. The two-time slam dunk champion finished with six points on 2-of-11 shooting in his eighth game back from a torn ACL in his left knee, after going 3 of 17 in a loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday.Coach Fred Hoiberg insisted LaVine will find his rhythm, and he likes what he is seeing from him on defense, particularly when he’s guarding the ball.

”I’m not worried.,” Hoiberg said. ”Zach’s offense will come. He’s a proven scorer. There’s no doubt about that. He’s missing shots that he normally makes and shots that he made when he first came back in those first couple games. … The encouraging thing is, his defense has been better.”

Terry hadn’t scored in double figures since a 15-point outing against Charlotte on April 10. That was also the only time in 74 games last season that he finished with 10 or more. … G Malcolm Brogdon missed his second consecutive game because of a sore right calf. … The Bucks had 11 steals – nine in the first half.Markkanen now has 721 points, surpassing Hanno Mottola (715) as the career leading scorer among NBA players from Finland. He also recorded his 12th double-double – second among NBA rookies. … The Bulls don’t have a timeline on when G Kris Dunn will return from a concussion. He missed his fifth game in a row.The Bucks took a 61-42 lead to the locker room after outscoring the Bulls 35-22 in the second quarter.Milwaukee got back-to-back 3-pointers in the opening minutes of the period from the 40-year-old Terry and bumped the lead to 20 near the end of the half.Sterling Brown and Middleton nailed 3s and a cutting Antetokounmpo threw down a dunk to make it 56-36. The Bucks then shook off 3s for the Bulls by Valentine and Nikola Mirotic, with former Bull Tony Snell hitting one of his own and Antetokounmpo burying a turnaround jumper from around the foul line to make it a 19-point game.Forward Jabari Parker said he expects to know a target date this week for his return from the second major knee surgery of his young career.The Chicago product played 2-on-2 on Saturday and had ”a good workout” prior to Sunday’s game.Parker, the second overall pick in the 2014 draft, was averaging 20.1 points when he tore his left ACL in a game against Houston on Feb. 8, 2017. It was his second major injury to that knee in three seasons. He had surgery six days later, and the Bucks said it would take a year for him to return.

Lakers beat Bulls in battle of mediocre teams

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Brandon Ingram scored 25 points, including eight in the final 3:18, and the Los Angeles Lakers rallied late for a 108-103 victory over the Bulls after losing a 12-point, fourth-quarter lead.Jordan Clarkson had 19 points and Brook Lopez added 17 for the Lakers, who have won four straight and eight of 10. Six of the eight wins were at home.Los Angeles trailed 95-92 with less than four minutes to play before Ingram – who also had nine rebounds and was 10 for 18 from the field – started the rally with a pair of free throws.Nikola Mirotic scored 14 of his 18 points in the fourth quarter, and Denzel Valentine and Bobby Portis had 16 apiece for the Bulls who have dropped three straight.

”We did not get off to a good start tonight,” coach Fred Hoiberg said. ”Our grit, toughness wasn’t there. Give our guys credit for continuing to fight. Our second unit got us back into that game and got us back in it again in the fourth after falling behind double digits.”

Los Angeles led by as much as 17 in the first half before the Bulls rallied to tie the score at 68 early in the third quarter. The Lakers, though, answered with 11 straight points and led 84-72 entering the fourth.The Bulls rallied again and took a 92-90 lead with 5 1/2 minutes remaining on Valentine’s 3-pointer. It was Chicago’s first lead since 3-2. Mirotic hit a 3-pointer to give the Bulls the 95-92 lead before Los Angeles took control.Ingram’s free throws started a 13-2 run that sealed the win. Rookie G Lonzo Ball missed his sixth straight game with a sore left knee. The second overall pick is averaging 10.2 points, 7.1 rebounds and 7.1 assists.Zach LaVine, playing in just his seventh game of the season following ACL surgery last February, played a season-high 26 minutes. His minutes restriction was lifted to 26-28 minutes before the game .The Bulls were 17 for 36 on 3-pointers and now have made at least 10 3s in each of its last 11 home games.Kris Dunn missed his fourth straight game with a concussion, and it’s unclear when he might return.

DeBrincat Hat Trick leads Hawks past Detroit

DETROIT—Alex DeBrincat has been one of the few bright spots this season for the Blackhawks.The 20-year-old rookie had his second hat trick, and the Hawks chased Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard in the first period on their way to a 5-1 victory over the Red Wings on Thursday night. DeBrincat, a Farmington Hills native, also had an assist in his return to the area where he was born.

”The puck was bouncing my way today,” DeBrincat said. ”It feels good to get that done in front of my family and friends.”

DeBrincat, Anthony Duclair and Vinnie Hinostroza scored in the first 8:47 before Howard was pulled, and the Red Wings never got back in the game. DeBrincat added another goal in the second period and scored an empty-netter in the third, bringing his season total to 17.Anton Forsberg came within 3:51 of his first career shutout before Anthony Mantha scored for Detroit.DeBrincat opened the scoring after just 3:19 when he wheeled around and shot from near the top of the right circle. With Jonathan Toews creating traffic in front, the puck went past Howard for a 1-0 lead.Duclair made it 2-0 with a shot from the high slot. Then Hinostroza came in on a 2-on-1 and decided to shoot himself, beating Howard to give Chicago a three-goal advantage.Howard headed to the bench after making only six saves, and Petr Mrazek replaced him.

”Really bad start from us,” Detroit’s Henrik Zetterberg said. ”Too many guys who were not ready to go when the puck dropped. That’s unacceptable. That’s on me. I got to get the guys ready when the puck is dropped.”

Detroit’s Gustav Nyquist hit the post shortly after the Red Wings fell behind 3-0, but Detroit didn’t create much sustained pressure, even though it was the Hawks that had played the night before. The Blackhawks had lost four in a row and are in last place in the Central Division, but after going just 1-4-1 on a six-game homestand, the Blackhawks head into the All-Star break on a better note with the win at Detroit.

”Certainly it feels a lot different than the experience we’ve had over the last week,” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. ”I thought we did a lot of good things in our two prior games without getting a `W’ – so maybe there’s a corner that’s turned.”

Forsberg was closing in on a shutout in his 27th career game, but Mantha redirected a pass from Zetterberg into the net. Zetterberg moved into a tie with Pavel Datsyuk for fifth place on Detroit’s career assists list with No. 604.The Red Wings pulled their goalie at the end, and that gave DeBrincat an opportunity to shoot into the open net in the final minute.

NOTES—DeBrincat also had a hat trick against Anaheim on Nov. 27. … Forsberg made 23 saves, bouncing back after allowing five goals on 35 shots in his previous start against the Islanders. … Quenneville said he’s hoping G Corey Crawford will be back on the ice during the break, and then the team can decide whether he goes on a road trip next week. … The Hawks had a goal waved off in the second period. Duclair went down near the goal and actually ended up inside the net, behind Mrazek. A shot went past both of them and into the goal, but it was immediately disallowed.

Nylander’s OT Penalty Shot beat his Dad’s former team

The Toronto Maple Leafs found themselves in yet another tight game. William Nylander found a way to make sure they got two points this time.Nylander scored on a penalty shot 6 seconds into overtime to lift the Maple Leafs to a 3-2 win over the sagging Blackhawks on Wednesday night.Nylander was awarded the attempt after he broke in alone on Jeff Glass from the opening faceoff in the extra period, but was hooked from behind by Duncan Keith. Nylander scored the game-winner and his 10th goal by faking Glass and then burying a high backhander to send the Blackhawks to their fourth straight defeat.

”I thought I needed to throw a little harder fake on him so he’d bite,” Nylander said. ”I went to the backhand on the two previous breakaways. Third time’s the lucky charm.”

Nylander was stopped by Glass with 4:02 left in the third period when he pounced on Jordan Oesterle’s turnover and cut in alone.

”I’ve had breakaways in the previous games and hadn’t scored,” Nylander said. ”So it’s nice to score on one.”

Eight of Toronto’s last nine games have been decided by one goal, including three overtime losses and one in regulation. In the Maple Leafs’ 4-2 loss to Colorado on Monday, the Avalanche’s Gabriel Landeskog finished the scoring with a late empty-netter.

”That’s the way it is every night,” said Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock, whose team won for second time in seven games. ”I still think we can play way better.”

Toronto’s Nazem Kadri connected for his 15th goal, a power-play score that snapped a seven-game scoring drought and was just his second goal in 20 games. Mitch Marner also scored for the Maple Leafs.Brent Seabrook and Nick Schmaltz scored power-play goals for the Hawks, who snapped an 0-for-16 drought with the man advantage. Schmaltz’s goal, at 7:55 of the third period, tied it at 2.Seabrook’s first-period score was the Blackhawks’ first power-play goal at home since Dec. 8 against Buffalo, ending a span of 33 failed chances over 10 games.Joel Quenneville sounded almost more wistful than disappointed about how his team lost this one.

”We had one (a hooking from behind) that was called a two-minute minor,” Quenneville said. ”I don’t know what’s more advantageous: a power-play with a 4-on-3 or a penalty shot.”

Toronto’s Frederik Andersen made 34 saves, including some tough chances as the Blackhawks battled for a second straight game following several soft efforts. Glass finished with 33 stops.Seabrook’s power-play goal opened the scoring 5:29 in. His shot from the top of the right circle deflected off the stick of Toronto’s Leo Komarov and flipped past Andersen.Marner was credited with tying it 1-all with 3:23 left in the first to cap a scramble in the Hawk zone. After Glass made a couple of tough saves, Jake Gardiner’s shot from the top of the left circle struck Marner in traffic and deflected in.

Sixers roll past Bulls 115-101

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PHILADELPHIA—Ben Simmons wasn’t among the players selected as an All-Star Game reserve – and the rookie showed what the league will be missing.Simmons had 19 points, 17 rebounds and 14 assists for his fifth triple-double of the season to lead the Philadelphia 76ers to a 115-101 victory over the Bulls.Dario Saric added 21 points and 10 rebounds and Joel Embiid had 22 points for the 76ers, who have won seven of 10.Embiid, picked to be a starter for the Eastern Conference last week, thinks the omission spurred Simmons.Philadelphia played without guards JJ Redick (left leg), T.J. McConnell (personal) and Jerryd Bayless (left wrist), but Simmons picked up the slack.The rookie was just two assists away from a triple-double in the first half when he helped the 76ers to a 55-41 halftime lead with 11 points, 13 rebounds and eight assists. His slam dunk with 7:40 left in the third quarter was part of a dominating period for Philadelphia.Embiid’s 3-pointer with 4:23 left in the third stretched the 76ers’ lead to 25 points at 79-54. Embiid threw his hands up to get an already excited Philadelphia sports crowd even more revved up.Philadelphia has had difficulty protecting late leads this season and blew a 15-point second-half advantage in Monday’s 105-101 loss at Memphis, but the 25-point cushion was more than enough for the hot-shooting 76ers.