Augustin’s career high 33 leads Bulls past Celtics

Chicago Bulls Logo - Red bull with script above head

BOSTON—D.J. Augustin put an end to a series of pesky rallies by the Boston Celtics.Augustin hit a tiebreaking 3-pointer with 2:01 remaining, then continued a perfect night from the foul line while scoring a career-high 33 points for the Bulls in a 107-102 win over Boston.Augustin scored 15 in the fourth, including six points from the foul line as the Bulls held off the slumping Celtics.

”Even though we didn’t play great defense tonight, we pulled it out and we know what we have to fix,” said Augustin, whose previous career high was 31 points scored against Philadelphia in January 2011. ”I really don’t follow that. Some of my teammates told me. It’s a great accomplishment, but I’m glad we got the win.”

Joakim Noah finished with 13 points, 13 assists and eight rebounds for the Bulls two nights after they were routed at home by Portland.

”That is how we have to win. Our margin of error is not great,” Tom Thibodeau said. ”We’ve got to play with great intensity each and every night.”

The Bulls, who avoided losing consecutive games for the first time in nearly two months, will go for a three-game season sweep against the Celtics on Monday night in the United Center.Carlos Boozer scored 14, Kirk Hinrich and Mike Dunleavy added 11 points apiece and all five starters scored in double figures.The Bulls made up for its rebounding struggles by making 25 of 31 foul shots, including 11 of 14 in the fourth quarter.

”They were big, especially at the end,” Augustin said. ”If we had missed a couple of those foul shots, we don’t know what the outcome of the game would have been because they made some big 3s at the end,” Augustin said.

Rajon Rondo had 17 points and 11 assists for Boston, which has lost four straight and nine of 10.Jeff Green and Jared Sullinger scored 16 points each for Boston and Sullinger pulled down 10 rebounds. Kris Humphries added 14 points and eight rebounds as Boston outrebounded the Bulls 39-31, but could not stop Augustin in the fourth.

”You can look at it a couple of different ways, but we hate losing,” Rondo said. ”We’ve got to find a way eventually to win some of these games. They’re very winnable. We’re just not closing the games the right way.”

The Celtics kept the Bulls from making a run early in the fourth quarter, matching nearly every basket and continuing to outrebound the Bulls. Boston grabbed two offensive rebounds on one possession and Brandon Bass’ putback gave the Celtics an 87-86 lead.Noah drew a foul on the other end and hit both free throws, Hinrich added a 3-pointer and Augustin made a reverse layup to put the Bulls up 93-87 with 4:36 left.Rondo answered with a 3-pointer for Boston, then Sullinger blocked a layup attempt by Augustin to set up a fast-break 3-pointer by Green to pull Boston back within a basket. Green hit again from beyond-the-arc after a foul shot by Noah and the score was tied at 96 with 2:13 remaining.Augustin broke the tie with his third 3-pointer of the game, then made a steal on an inbounds play that all but ended Boston’s chances. Augustin drew a foul and made both free throws, then added four more from the line as the Celtics were forced to foul.Augustin’s two free throws with 22 seconds left put the Bulls up 105-99 and the margin was too much for Boston to overcome.

NOTES—Carlos Boozer received a technical and clear-path foul when he grabbed Humphries from behind on his way to an uncontested trip to the basket. … Humphries tumbled to the court after Boozer let go and was quickly issued the technical. … Humphries was called for a technical in the third period for a shove on Noah in the lane while both were setting up for a rebound. …The Bulls last lost consecutive games Feb. 1 and 3.

Bad road trip ends with 4-1 loss to Pens, Toews hurt.

PITTSBURGH—The reeling Blackhawks took another hard hit. The Pittsburgh Penguins appear to be coming together at just the right time.Sidney Crosby scored two goals in the final five minutes, helping the Penguins to a 4-1 victory against the injury-riddled Blackhawks on Sunday night.

“I thought this was one of our most physical games of the year,” Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said. “We saw it from the beginning of the game until the end.”

The biggest hit came in the second period.Already playing without Patrick Kane, the Blackhawks lost captain Jonathan Toews to an upper-body injury when he was drilled by Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik. Toews was holding his left arm on the bench before heading down the runway for good in the second.Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville didn’t believe the injury to Toews was serious, characterizing it as day to day.

“We’ll get a better assessment tomorrow,” Quenneville said.

James Neal and Lee Stempniak also scored for the Penguins, who won their second straight and snapped a three-game home losing streak. Marc-Andre Fleury made 25 saves in his 36th victory of the season.Orpik’s hit on Toews occurred with 6:30 remaining in the middle period. The two were going for a loose puck.

“It was a big hit,” Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp said. “You could tell he was trying to hit him hard. He knew who he was hitting. It’s tough when you see your captain get hit like that.”

Quenneville said he needed to see a replay of Orpik’s hit. Bylsma said he only saw the hit live, and believed it was clean. Orpik agreed.

“There’s no penalty, so I don’t know,” Orpik said. “I think that hit happens 10 times a game.”

It’s been a rough stretch for injuries for the defending Stanley Cup champions, who will be without star forward Kane for the rest of the regular season because of a lower-body injury. Bryan Bickell is out with an upper-body injury but is expected to return soon.Blackhawks forward Marian Hossa played with Orpik with the Penguins during their run to the 2008 Stanley Cup Finals.

“[Orpik] is a heavy hitter,” Hossa said. “That’s his game. It’s never easy to play against him. Sometimes he’s on the borderline, but I know him as a fair guy and that’s how I remember him.”

The injury to Toews galvanized the Blackhawks, who dominated play in the third period. But Fleury held up just fine.Crosby capped a 2-on-1 rush for Pittsburgh at 15:09 of the third, sending a wrist shot over the shoulder of Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford. He added an empty-netter with 1:16 left for his 36th goal and league-leading 99th point of the season.

“Obviously, they were coming and they put a lot of pressure on us,” Crosby said. “They started to take a few more risks and we were able to capitalize.”

Sheldon Brookbank scored for the Blackhawks, who have lost three straight in regulation for the first time since February 2012.The Penguins and Blackhawks started the month at a snowy Soldier Field, part of the NHL Stadium Series. The Hawks cruised to a 5-1 victory against Pittsburgh on March 1 in the beginning of a rough month for each team.

“We remember that snowy night in Chicago,” Bylsma said. “They took it to us pretty good. We wanted to respond in this game and I think we did.”

The Blackhawks and Penguins began the day with identical near-.500 March records and one victory in each of their past four games.Injuries to top forwards have played a role; the Hawks played their sixth in a row without Kane, while former NHL MVP Evgeni Malkin missed his fourth straight for Pittsburgh. Both are expected to return for the postseason.The Blackhawks added another big name to the list after the loss of Toews.

“We’ve played 11 games in 19 days, it’s a busy stretch of the year,” Quenneville said. “There have been some stretches in the last three games that have showed that maybe this team needs a break.”

The Hawks carried the play early, Andrew Shaw hitting a post less than two minutes into the game. But Pittsburgh scored twice in 21 seconds, taking an early 2-0 lead.Neal snapped a wrist shot past Crawford on a 2-on-1 and Stempniak got behind Johnny Oduya after a lead pass from Matt Niskanen and beat Crawford between the pads. Neal has 10 points in his last nine games against the Blackhawks.Pittsburgh had a chance to add to its lead in the second period, but came up short on two power-play opportunities.Brookbank then delivered for the Blackhawks, cutting the deficit in half when he blasted a slap shot from the point behind Fleury.

NOTES—The Blackhawks last visited Pittsburgh in December 2011. … Pittsburgh native Brandon Saad played his first game in his hometown. … Joe Vitale and Simon Despres were scratched for the Penguins. … The Hawks scratched David Rundblad, Jeremy Morin, Matt Carey and Michal Rozsival. … Pittsburgh will play host to Carolina on Tuesday, while the Hawks is home to Minnesota on Thursday.

Hawks Post Olympic slide continues with 5-3 loss to Sens

OTTAWA—Forget about the Division Title! Not happening this ear. Craig Anderson stopped 46 shots in his first game back since being injured March 10 and the Senators beat the visiting and slumping Blackhawks 5-3 on Friday.Clarke MacArthur had a goal and two assists and Erik Condra, Cody Ceci, Milan Michalek and Kyle also each scored for the Senators.Patrick Sharp, Marian Hossa and Brent Seabrook scored in the loss. Antti Raanta made 24 saves.The Hawks have has lost three of their past four and captain Jonathan Toews says there are too many mistakes happening when his team has possession of the puck.

“I’d say there were some good moments where we did have control of the puck where we were getting point shots and second efforts and some of the things we’re looking for when we’re playing good hockey,” Toews said.”Other than that it was sloppy turnovers, sloppy mistakes that we really need to get out of our system. We need to get those plays out of our game. It’s as simple as that. We need to play some character hockey. Frustrating way to lose.”

Toews wasn’t alone in thinking the Blackhawks failed to show their best effort.In what was a “Groundhog Day tpe of post game quote,  “I didn’t like our game,” Joel Quenneville said. “We had a good start and obviously giving up a short-handed (goal) right off the bat they

got some momentum off it and played well.”
Ottawa scored twice in the third and killed off a 34 second two-man advantage to hold off the Blackhawks.Turris made it 4-2 with a power-play goal at the six-minute mark of the third and MacArthur scored his 23rd of the season midway through the period to make it 5-2.

“I thought we competed better,” MacArthur said. “We had a little lapse in the second, but you’re playing Chicago and they’re going to make a push, but we were able to make plays in the third and not clam up.”

Frustration started to set in for the Hawks midway through the third when Andrew Shaw speared Zack Smith. Shaw was assessed a major and game misconduct.Smith said he was less than impressed by the play.

“A spear is always looked upon as pretty bad for someone to do,” Smith said. “It’s kind of a cheap shot, especially where he was aiming, but you saw the replay.”

The Blackhawks made it 5-3 with a short-handed goal at the 17-minute mark as Seabrook’s shot from the point just trickled across the goal line.Ottawa jumped out to a 3-0 lead, but by the end of the second it was a one-goal game. The Senators were outshot 23-5 in the middle period.The Hawks got on the board midway through the second with a power-play goal as Sharp took a great pass from Toews and tipped it past Anderson.Hossa made it 3-2 when he scored with 41 seconds remaining in the second period. Hossa intercepted a pass at the Ottawa blue line, got through two defensemen and squeezed the puck past Anderson.Ottawa had made it 3-0 just 23 seconds into the second as Michalek tipped in a shot off a pass from Spezza.The Senators held a 2-0 lead after the first 20 minutes.Condra made it 1-0, scoring short-handed midway through the first. And Ceci made it 2-0 in the final minute of the period as he scored from just inside the blue line.

NOTES—The Blackhawks are without RW Patrick Kane (lower body, two weeks), LW Bryan Bickell (upper body, day-to-day) and D Michal Rozsival (lower body, day-to-day). D David Rundblad, LW Jeremy Morin and LW Teuvo Teravainen were a healthy scratch. LW Matt Carey made his NHL debut.

Bulls again fail to match up with Blazers, lose 91-74

Chicago Bulls Logo - Red bull with script above head

The Portland Trail Blazers had dropped three straight games and appeared in danger of losing considerable playoff ground in the tough Western Conference before LaMarcus Aldridge returned to the lineup on Thursday.Two games later, the Blazers seemed to have turned things following a pair of comfortable wins, the latest a 91-74 victory over the Bulls on Friday night.Is the turnaround as easily explained as the return of an All-Star performer? Well, yeah, the Blazers say.Mo Williams scored 18 points to lead five Blazers in double figures. Lillard had 16 points, Nicolas Batum and Robin Lopez each had 13, Wesley Matthews had 11 and Thomas Robinson added 10.The Blazers got past the Bulls easily, despite a quiet night from Aldridge, who was playing just his second game after missing two weeks with a back injury. He had five points and 13 rebounds in 29 minutes after having 25 points and 16 rebounds in Atlanta.

”He is a load down there; a great player,” Joakim Noah said. ”You can tell when he is on the court, whether he scores or not. He changes their team. He is one of the best in the game.”

Carlos Boozer had 16 points and 12 rebounds in 24 minutes to lead the Bulls. D.J. Augustin had 15, Taj Gibson 13 and Noah added 11 points and 10 rebounds.The Bulls, who had a chance to clinch a playoff spot with a win, lost both games of the season series and have dropped 11 of 13 overall against Portland, including five of seven at the United Center.Before Friday, the Bulls had been 10-3 in their last 13 home games, averaging 96.8 points on 44.5 percent shooting during that span. But it was apparent early that they wouldn’t approach either of those marks in this one.

”We were flat,” Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. ”They had something to do with that.”

Getting off to fast starts was one reason behind the Bulls’ recent home success, but they were cold at the start, going 8-of-23 (34.8 percent) from the field in scoring 16 points in the first quarter. Minus Boozer’s 10 points on 5-of-10 shooting, the rest of the team managed just six points on 3-of-13 shooting.The Blazers had a 47-36 halftime lead and then took charge at the start of the third quarter, beginning the second half with a dunk by Lopez and a 3-pointer by Batum to make it 52-36. In all, Portland stretched the run to 15-2 for a 62-38 lead.The Bulls ended the third quarter on a mini-spurt — including a three-point play on a dunk and foul by Gibson — to trim the deficit to 73-58 entering the fourth quarter.The Bulls got the ball first in the final quarter and had a couple of inside looks on that initial possession, but came up empty. Lillard then essentially dashed any hopes of a huge rally with a 3-pointer at the other end to make it 76-58.The Bulls failed to score 80 points for the 11th time this season and are 0-11 in those games.

NOTES—Derrick Rose, out for the season with a torn right meniscus, suffered the injury in the first game against the Blazers on Nov. 22 and had surgery three days later. … Thibodeau was asked if he was taking part in the Bulls’ NCAA pool. ”I didn’t get a chance to participate,” the coach said. ”I was looking at that Quicken Loans one. I think I would have won that.” That was the contest in which Warren Buffett offered $1 billion to anyone who could fill out a perfect bracket. No one made it through the third day without at least one game wrong. … Portland entered with a 20-18 road record but was 2-7 in last nine.

Hawks blanked by Rask, Bruins 3-0.

BOSTON—The Boston Bruins weren’t content with a one-goal lead, not against the team that erased that same deficit to win the Stanley Cup in their building.So they scored two goals in a 13-second span early in the third period and beat the Blackhawks 3-0 on Thursday night, nine months after their late collapse in Game 6 of the 2013 Final.

“Chicago’s an easy team to get up for, especially with what happened last year,” Boston forward Chris Kelly said.

The Blackhawks clinched their second title in four years with a 3-2 victory when Brian Bickell tied it with 1:16 to play and Dave Bolland scored the winner with 59 seconds left last June 24.

“Coming back brought some memories,” Patrick Sharp said after his first game at TD Garden since he and his teammates skated there with the Stanley Cup. “We’re happy with what we accomplished, but that’s in the past and we’re ready to try and do it again.”

But the NHL’s highest-scoring team couldn’t do much against the hottest, stingiest club in the league as Tuukka Rask stopped 28 shots in posting his NHL-leading seventh shutout.

“You always feel better about yourself when you play good against good teams like that,” he said. “I don’t think they got too many chances.”

So the Blackhawks, in fourth place in the Western Conference, must wait to pick up the one point they need to clinch a playoff berth for the sixth consecutive season.

“We’re not looking too far ahead,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “We’re looking to get one more win … and go from there.”

Patrice Bergeron scored two goals and Carl Soderberg had one as the Bruins rebounded from a shootout loss to Montreal on Monday that ended their 12-game winning streak.In their past 14 games, the Bruins have outscored opponents 51-19. They lead second-place Pittsburgh in the Eastern Conference by nine points with nine games to play for each.

“You never want to play on your heels,” Boston coach Claude Julien said. “When you’ve got a one-goal lead, you want to extend it before you even think of protecting the lead.”

They couldn’t do that the last time they played the Hawks in Boston. But these Bruins have allowed the fewest goals in the NHL and won their 50th game for only the third time in 31 seasons.And Bergeron is having one of his best. Known as one of the NHL’s best defensive forwards, he has 25 goals, second most in his 10-season career.

“It’s great any time I can chip in offensively and keep my two-way game,” he said.

Bergeron began the scoring when he tipped in Matt Bartkowski’s shot from the left point as the puck eluded goalie Corey Crawford.Soderberg made it 2-0 with his 14th of the season at 5:28 of the third period. Johnny Boychuk’s shot was stopped by Kelly in front, and it went to Soderberg, who shot quickly from 15 feet.Just 13 seconds later, Bergeron was credited with the goal after a video review. Crawford had gone behind his net, and when he tried to get back in front, he knocked the net out of position as the puck was heading toward it.Officials ruled that the puck would have gone into the net had it been in place.The Blackhawks played without Patrick Kane, the Conn Smythe Trophy winner last season as the postseason MVP. The Hawks second leading scorer is expected to miss the rest of the regular season because of a knee injury.The Blackhawks had few good scoring opportunities. Their last solid bid came when Jeremy Morin unleashed a hard, 30-foot shot from the left side that a sprawling Rask plucked with his glove.The Hawks controlled the puck in the first 10 minutes.

“It was a perfect start. Then it slowed down to a crawl,” Quenneville said. “We were not very good.”

NOTES—A moment of silence was held before the game for firefighters, Lt. Edward J. Walsh and Michael R. Kennedy, who died Wednesday in a fire in the Back Bay section of Boston — not far from TD Garden. “It’s a sad, sad day when two brave men lose their lives,” Kelly said. “If we can do a little thing to honor them, we’re more than happy to do that.” The Bruins wore Boston Fire Department caps during warmups. … Bergeron has a career-best, five-game goal streak. … The Bruins are 6-0 when they take a 1-0 lead into the third period.

Surprise! Jared Allen is a Bear.

LAKE FOREST—Jared Allen has agreed to terms on a four-year deal to join the Bears.Allen’s four year deal voids down to three years at $24 million, and includes $15.5 million guaranteed, which is in line with the deal DeMarcus Ware signed with Denver.Allen’s deal includes guaranteed base salaries in 2014 and 2015 as well as a fully guaranteed roster bonus due next March.The deal is strong for both sides.Allen, a future Hall of Famer at defensive end, had visited Seattle and Dallas previously and came to terms with the Bears “in the wee hours” Tuesday, his agent Ken Harris said. Allen mulled over offers from several teams over the weekend and came to a final decision with his family.He remains in the NFC North following a long stint in Minnesota and replaces Julius Peppers with the Bears, as Peppers signed in Green Bay following his release.Allen has 11 1/2 sacks last season and is at the top of most pass rushing statistics since entering the league with the Chiefs. Allen was later traded to the Vikings and signed a massive new deal with the Vikings then, which he played out through the 2013 season. This was his first experience with free agency.

Hawks offense come to life in 4-2 win over Stars

The Blackhawks are trying get into a groove so they can head into the playoffs firing on all cylinders.Even without star forward Patrick Kane, the defending Stanley Cup champions showed signs of moving in the right direction Tuesday night.Andrew Shaw and Duncan Keith each had a goal and an assist, and the Hawks held on for a 4-2 win over the Dallas Stars.

“We did some good things throughout the game,” Coach Joel Quenneville said. “All four lines were contributing and our special teams were good as well. Good win.”

Kris Versteeg and Marian Hossa also scored for the Hawks, who needs just one more point to clinch a playoff berth for the sixth straight season. Patrick Sharp added two assists to help the Hawks finish 4-1 against Dallas in the Central Division rivals’ regular-season series.

“It was a big win tonight,” said Keith, second in scoring among defensemen with 57 points. “They’re a hungry team, fighting for their playoff lives.”

Ryan Garbutt scored twice for the Stars, who fell three points behind Phoenix for the final Western Conference playoff berth.Dallas matched the Hawks speed and effort early, but eventually the Blackhawks took over and built a 3-1 lead. Garbutt’s second goal cut it to 3-2 late in the third, but Hossa’ empty-netter sealed the Blackhawks’ solid effort.Corey Crawford made 25 saves, while Dallas’ Kari Lehtonen blocked 38 shots.

“They’re a fast team, can really skate,” Crawford said. “They got the jump early and then our `D’ were able to shut them down really good.They really shut down everything in the third period.”

Dallas’ Tyler Seguin set up Garbutt’s goal in the second period to extend his point streak to 10 games. He has seven goals and 10 assists during the run. Blackhawks top prospect Teuvo Teravainen didn’t record a point in his NHL debut, but logged 11 minutes and 39 seconds of ice time. The 19-year-old forward was the Hawks first-round draft pick in 2012 and led his team in Finland, Jokerit, in scoring this season.The Blackhawks played their third game without Kane, who is on long-term injured reserve and may miss the rest of the regular season.Dallas had several good chances early, including Garbutt’s breakaway just over 2 minutes in. Crawford stopped his close-in rising shot with a glove save.The Blackhawks took charge as the period progressed, then Shaw’s power-play goal with 18 seconds left in the first opened the scoring.Shaw swept in a rebound of Sharp’s shot from the blue line with a highlight-reel effort. Shaw was knocked to the ice by Dallas defenseman Trevor Daley in the crease, but backhanded in the loose puck as he fell to his knees and while facing away from the net.Versteeg was credited with a goal at 4:12 of the second that made it 2-0.After Dallas’ Antoine Roussel failed to clear the puck, Versteeg slid a pass toward Hossa who was cruising in down the slot. Rousell reached with his stick to break up the pass, but deflected the pucks past Lehtonen.Garbutt didn’t miss on his second breakaway of the game, and cut it to 2-1 midway through the second.He skated in behind the Blackhawks defense after Seguin banked a pass off the left boards from the Stars zone. Garbutt cut across the crease and slipped a backhander between Crawford’s pads.Keith restored a two-goal lead at 3-1 with 5:45 left in the period on a fluttering screened shot from the left point.Garbutt’s second goal cut it to 3-2 with 5:40 left in the third.Following Nick Leddy’s turnover in the right corner of the Hawk zone, Garbutt carried the puck to the net. Crawford stopped his first shot, but Garbutt stuffed in the rebound from right side of the goal.Hossa fired into an empty net with 33.3 seconds left to complete the scoring.

NOTES—Keith has six goals and 51 assists for his 57 points. … The Blackhawks won 49 of 71 faceoffs on Tuesday. Captain Jonathan Toews was 23 for 28 and Teravainen was 7 for 7. Blackhawks F Bryan Bickell (upper-body) and D Michal Rozsival (lower-body) each missed their third games with injuries… . Long-time Blackhawks beat writer Tim Sassone, who passed away Tuesday, was honored with a moment of silence before the game. He covered the team for the Daily Herald for the past 26 years.

Noah.Hinrich and Dunleavy big for Bulls against Pacers

Chicago Bulls Logo - Red bull with script above head

Bulls center Joakim Noah believes the Eastern Conference is more than a two-team race.His message: Don’t dismiss the Bulls just yet.Following an 89-77 victory over first-place Indiana on Monday night, Noah said the Bulls think they are capable of competing with anyone in the East, be it the Pacers or defending champion Miami Heat.

“We feel like we can go at anybody, we can beat anybody, when we’re hungry. Stay humble and keep grinding,” Noah said. “I said right after the game, `I’m excited about having an opportunity to play these guys again.'”

The season series with the Pacers is over — the teams split four games and the home team won each one — so another meeting would have to come in the playoffs.

“It was real physical; my body is sore right now,” Bulls forward Taj Gibson said. “That’s the kind of games we play against our rivals, playoff basketball. That’s going to happen.”

Gibson, bouncing back from a subpar performance and postgame rant when the teams played last Friday in Indiana, scored 23 points to lead five Bulls in double figures.Kirk Hinrich had 18 points on 7-for-13 shooting, Mike Dunleavy scored 13, Jimmy Butler 12 and Noah added 10 points, eight rebounds and eight assists.Gibson, who was 9 for 15 from the field, also had eight rebounds in 32 minutes off the bench.The Bulls (40-31) pulled within two percentage points of Toronto (39-30) for third place in the Eastern Conference, a rise that wasn’t considered realistic when star guard Derrick Rose was injured and Luol Deng was traded.The win also prevented Indiana from clinching the Central Division title on the Bulls home court. The Pacers are looking to win consecutive division crowns for the second time since joining the NBA (1998-99 and 1999-2000).The Pacers, who were led by Paul George’s 21 points, have dropped three straight and six of eight on the road. They’ve lost four of five at the United Center, including both visits this season.

“Give them credit, as their defense is elite,” George said. “You need quick strikes and fast breaks to beat it.”

That didn’t happen too often Monday night and it hasn’t been happening enough of late for the Pacers as they continue to struggle.

“It’s just the type of stuff where people can’t get into a rhythm,” said center Roy Hibbert, who had just three points and five rebounds. “It’s just a lot of 1-on-1 basketball.”

The Pacers earned a 91-79 victory over the Bulls on Friday night at Indiana on the strength of a 19-0 third-quarter run. This time, the Bulls turned the tables, starting the second half with a 16-5 surge to take a 49-39 lead.A few minutes later, Indiana had cut the lead to 55-49 and George had the ball on a fast break ahead of the field. Hinrich, though, caught him from behind and looked as if he was going to give an intentional foul. Instead, Hinrich stripped the ball and the Bulls headed in the opposite direction as George complained that he was fouled.The Bulls completed the four-point swing on Gibson’s dunk to make it 57-49 with just more than 4 minutes left in the third quarter.The Bulls took a 64-56 lead into the fourth and were never seriously threatened down the stretch.

“We made a lot of defensive adjustments,” said Gibson, who fouled out of the previous meeting and accused the Pacers of flopping. “We played with a lot more intensity, a lot more aggressiveness, and it showed.”

NOTES—Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau was asked if there was a chance Rose could return for the playoffs. “No,” he said. “He’s doing a little bit more, he’s coming along (and) doing some things in practice. But he’s out for the year.” … Pacers coach Frank Vogel when asked if Hibbert was the NBA Defensive Player of the Year: “Hands down. He’s the best rim-protector on the best defense in the league. I think that’s who the award should go to. I’ll be very disappointed if he doesn’t get the award this year.” Hibbert’s main competition could be Noah, who received the endorsement of Rockets coach Kevin McHale a couple of weeks ago. … Former Bull C.J. Watson missed the game with a right hamstring strain.

ISU beats Texas A & M, advances to CBI Semi-Finals

NORMAL—Daishon Knight said Illinois State is still building its team chemistry even in late March. Yet something else has struck the Redbirds’ junior guard as the season winds down.

“It’s becoming more fun than actual hard work out there,” said Knight.

ISU had fun thanks to a total team effort Monday night at Redbird Arena. Knight scored a game-high 17 points, but the Redbirds got contributions from many places in a 62-55 victory over Texas A&M in a College Basketball Invitational quarterfinal game before an enthusiastic crowd of 3,251.The win advanced ISU (18-15) to a CBI semifinal game against Siena (17-17) in Albany, N.Y., at 6 p.m. Wednesday.The Redbirds grabbed a 41-35 rebounding advantage against much taller Texas A&M (18-16), with Knight hauling down a season-high nine.ISU’s inside game held its own. John Jones, in his second game back after foot surgery, tied his season high with 12 points, while freshman Reggie Lynch chipped in nine points, five rebounds and blocked a season-high six shots.The Redbirds shot 54.2 percent from the field in the second half to break away from a 27-all tie at the intermission. Texas A&M leads the Southeastern Conference in field goal percentage defense.

“A lot of guys made some great plays. John Jones was terrific in the first half and everyone contributed,” said ISU coach Dan Muller. “This team is playing hard and fun to coach and enjoying themselves. We knew it would be a struggle at times offensively, but we figured it out in the second half and made big plays down the stretch. The crowd that was here was great. That was fun.”

Texas A&M, the first SEC team to play at Redbird Arena, couldn’t overcome 34 percent shooting from the field (18 of 53) and 53.6 percent at the free-throw line (15 of 28). Forward Antwan Space led the Aggies with 15 points, while junior guard Jamal Jones had 14 points but made 4-of-17 field goal attempts.

“Give Illinois State credit. They attacked us inside in the first half,” said Aggies coach Billy Kennedy. “I thought their post game at both ends of the floor was the biggest difference in the game.The blocked shots that Lynch had and our inability to finish around the basket when we got the chance, and you’ve got to make free throws. We missed the front end of a couple one-and-ones and on the road in tournament play you’re not going to win games.”

Kennedy admitted Jones’ play surprised the Aggies. Jones missed 13 games after breaking a bone in his foot and returned last week against Morehead State.Jones scored 11 points in the first half and gave a struggling ISU offense a much-needed lift.Jones scored seven points in a 9-0 run that gave the Redbirds a 21-16 lead. Texas A&M regained the lead before Nick Zeisloft’s 3-pointer produced a 27-all tie at the break.The Redbirds used a 6-0 run to take the game’s biggest lead to that point at 50-44 on Knight’s 15-footer with 6:46 left. Texas A&M pulled within 54-51 after Fabyon Harris split a pair of free throws with 3:49 remaining.Lynch’s third dunk of the second half on a feed from Hunter gave ISU a 58-51 lead with 2:15 left. The Aggies got within 58-55 with 1:05 left before Knight sank four free throws in the final minute to clinch the victory.Knight made 5 of 7 shots from the field in the second half after starting 1 of 5.Hunter and Zeisloft also had eight rebounds each for the Redbirds.ISU played its second straight game without Zach Lofton. The Redbirds’ second-leading scorer remains suspended, according to Muller.This is the first season the Redbirds have beaten a team from the Big Ten (Northwestern), Big East (DePaul) and SEC.

Hawks unable to PEKKA away at Rinne. Preds win 2-0.

Pekka Rinne made 29 saves for his first shutout in more than a year to lead the Nashville Predators to a 2-0 victory against the Blackhawks on Sunday night.Mike Fisher and Gabriel Bourque scored for Nashville, which won its second straight and improved to 3-1 against the Hawks this season.The Blackhawks outshot the Predators 29-17 and generated ample chances despite playing their second game without Patrick Kane, the team’s leading scorer when he was injured against St. Louis on Wednesday. The star forward is on injured reserve with a lower-body injury and could miss the rest of the regular season.The Blackhawks fell six points behind Western Conference and Central Division leader St. Louis, which defeated Pittsburgh 1-0 earlier on Sunday.The Blackhawks’ Corey Crawford made 15 saves.Rinne was sharp and in his old form in his 31st career shutout, his first since March 12, 2013.The two-time Vezina Trophy finalist had surgery on his left hip in May 2013 and recovered in time to play in nine of the Predators’ first 10 games to start the season. But an infection in the hip required him to undergo a second surgery and he missed 51 games.Rinne has started nine of 11 games since returning in a 3-1 loss to Pittsburgh on March 4.Nashville defenseman Seth Jones suffered an upper-body injury and didn’t return for the second period. Forward Patric Hornqvist, tied for second on the Predators with 38 points, missed the game and returned to Nashville to be with his wife following the birth of the couple’s first child.The Blackhawks outshot the Predators 11-6 in the first and dominated much of the period, but Nashville led 1-0 after 20 minutes.Fisher opened the scoring on a deflection with 1:22 remaining in the first when he slipped in unchecked from the left side of the net. Ryan Ellis shot through a screen from the right point, and Fisher jammed in front and tipped the puck past Crawford.The Blackhawks came out strong in the second, helped in part by a four-minute power play resulting from Nashville’s Eric Nystrom penalty for roughing. But Rinne stopped several close-in chances and limited rebounds to keep the Predators ahead.Bourque made it 2-0 with 2:25 left in the period on a rising shot from the left circle that sailed over Crawford’s right shoulder as he dropped to the ice.In the third, Rinne came through when tested and managed the puck conservatively, often smothering it to eliminate rebounds and chances.Rinne stopped Niklas Hjalmarsson‘s screened shot from the point in the final minute, then sprawled to stop Jonathan Toews‘ rebound attempt from the side of the net.

NOTES—Before the game, Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said there’s ”a good chance” top prospect Teuvo Teravainen could make his NHL debut on Tuesday against Dallas. Teravainen, a first-round draft pick in 2012, joined the Blackhawks on Friday and has been skating with the team. … F Matt Carey, 22, signed by the Hawks as a free agent on Thursday following one season at St. Lawrence University, also has joined the Blackhawks and could play down the stretch. … Brandon Saad returned on Sunday after missing three games with an upper-body injury. Bryan Bickell and Michal Rozsival remained out.