Hawks snap 3 game skid against Peds

NASHVILLE—Patrick Kane had a goal and an assist to lead the Blackhawks to a 3-2 victory over the Nashville Predators on Thursday night.Kane scored with 5:12 left in the third period after Jonathan Toews tied it minutes earlier on a power play by tipping in Brent Seabrook‘s slap shot.The Hawks were awarded the man advantage after Craig Smith skated through crease, making contact with Corey Crawford and sending him to the ice. Smith was assessed a minor penalty for tripping.

”It’s a missed call,” Smith said. ”It happens too much. I guess it’s a good play by him because the ref’s not looking and he’s able to stick his leg out and act like I ran into him. But I was crossing the crease. I wasn’t trying to hit him. He obviously turned and stuck his knee out, but if the refs don’t catch it, good play by him.”

Crawford, who won his first game since returning from an early December appendectomy, thought he was just standing his ground in the crease.

”I was just trying to brace myself and it didn’t really work too well,” Crawford said.

Artem Anisimov also scored and Crawford made 36 saves to help the Hawks snap a three-game losing streak, the Blackhawks’ longest skid of the season.

”We did some good things as the game progressed and I’m certainly very happy for the win,” Joel Quenneville said. ”(We had) a couple big power-play goals tonight as well.”

Filip Forsberg and Mike Fisher scored for Nashville, and Ryan Johansen had two assists. The Predators have lost three straight.

”I think our guys did a lot of good things out there tonight and didn’t get rewarded for that,” Nashville coach Peter Laviolette said. ”We’ll move on to tomorrow night.”

With the score tied at 2 late in the third, Kane picked up the puck in the defensive zone in front of Predators defenseman Roman Josi. Kane carried the puck into the Nashville zone on the right side and fired a wrist shot from the faceoff dot that beat Pekka Rinne on the short side. Rinne finished with 20 saves.

”I was surprised the defenseman didn’t pinch there and the next thing I knew, our bench was yelling, `3-on-2′ and then `4-on-2,”’ Kane said. ”You just try to have confidence in yourself there trying to make a good play. Their `D’ kind of backed in, so I thought with a couple of guys driving the net I could take a shot there.”

Kane’s two points gave him 700 in his career.Anisimov opened the scoring at 13:19 of the opening period. With the Blackhawks on a power play, Duncan Keith fired a one-timer from the center of the blue line toward the Nashville net. Stationed just outside of Rinne’s crease, Anisimov tipped the puck in for his 16th goal of the season.Nashville has allowed the first goal in nine of its last 10 games.Artemi Panarin assisted on the goal as well, extending his points streak to a career-best nine games. On Wednesday, Panarin signed a $12 million, two-year contract extension with the Blackhawks.Forsberg tied it 35 seconds later.just inside the blue line, Johansen jumped and gloved down a clearing attempt before sending a cross-ice pass to Forsberg above the left faceoff circle. There, Forsberg beat Crawford with a one-timer. After scoring just three goals in Nashville’s first 30 games this season, Forsberg has four in his last five.Nashville took the lead at 6:13 of the third on a power-play goal from Fisher.Johansen found Ekholm at the left faceoff dot, where he drifted toward the Hawk net. Ekholm drew Niklas Hjalmarsson to him and then slid a pass to Fisher in front, where the Nashville captain had a tap-in for his 10th goal of the season.

Notes—Predators RW James Neal did not return to the game following the second period. The team said he was out with an upper-body injury. … Nashville D P.K. Subban missed his sixth consecutive game with an upper-body injury. He will not play Friday at St Louis. … Blackhawks D Brian Campbell was a healthy scratch, ending his stretch of 423 consecutive games played.Blackhawks are at Carolina Friday night.

NU gets third Bowl win ever, 31-24 upset of #22 Pitt in Yankee Stadium

Northwestern Wildcats (1981 - Pres)Image result for 2016 pinstripe bowl logo

NEW YORK—Justin Jackson ran for 224 yards and three touchdowns to power Northwestern to only its third bowl victory, 31-24 over No. 22 Pittsburgh in the Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday night.Jackson was the straw that stirred Northwestern’s offense in the Bronx and helped etch this performance alongside the 1948 Rose Bowl and 2012 Gator Bowl victories in the program’s oft-futile history.

”Big city. Big stage,” Jackson said.

He had TD runs of 8 and 16 yards in the second quarter, then went deep on a 40-yard burst in the third that left one defender face down on the turf following a fantastic fake and gave the Wildcats (7-6) a 21-17 lead.Rallying without injured quarterback Nathan Peterman and running back James Conner, Pitt yanked the lead away in the fourth on a short TD pass before it collapsed the rest of the quarter.The Wildcats turned a fourth-and-1 into a 21-yard play-action TD pass that made it 28-24 and a hit late field goal for a seven-point lead.The Panthers (8-5), who had wins over No. 2 Clemson and Big Ten champion Penn State, still had time to spoil Northwestern’s upset bid with a late drive for the tying score. Scott Orndoff failed to hang on to backup quarterback Ben DiNucci’s strike in the end zone on third down. DiNucci had his fourth-down pass picked off by Jared McGee, who helped bust up the previous pass play, to clinch the win for the Wildcats.Jackson, who led the Big Ten with 1,300 yards rushing and became the first Wildcat to rush for 1,000-plus yards in three straight seasons, stiff-armed one defender, then bowled over a second for a 16-yard score that helped Northwestern take a 14-10 lead into halftime.After some confusion over his final rushing total, Jackson fell just shy of setting the Pinstripe Bowl mark of 227 yards by Indiana’s Devine Redding.

”We’ll go over every yard,” Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald.

Peterman, who threw for 253 yards, gave Pitt a 17-14 lead on a 5-yard scamper in the third. Peterman’s solid outing ended late in the quarter when he was sandwiched between two defenders and his head slammed the turf.DiNucci was picked on Pitt’s final drive with 30 seconds left in the game and the Wildcats stormed the field in celebration.Conner, who capped a triumphant return from Hodgkin lymphoma, suffered a brutal helmet-to-helmet blow to the head late in the first half and did not return. Unlike some draft prospects, Conner played the bowl game even though he decided to skip his senior season and declare for the NFL draft. The 6-foot-2, 240-pound Conner, who had 1,060 yards rushing and 20 total touchdowns entering the game, was far from a sure-fire early NFL pick.

”One of the defenders turned around and went for him, I guess, instead of going for the ball. Kind of interesting,” Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi said.

Conner was stuffed when he tried to go over the top on a failed fourth-down try in the first quarter.The Wildcats were stout all around. Clayton Thorson was 23 of 36 for 214 yards passing and had the winning TD pass. Garrett Dickerson caught the go-ahead TD and had five catches for 46 yards. The Wildcats can chalk this one up to a fantastic four: 4 for 4 on fourth-down conversions.The Panthers may have won pulled out a victory had their offensive stalwarts not been sidelined late with injuries. Losing to a 6-6 Big Ten definitely ends the year on a down note.Pitt will fall out of the Top 25 and failed to finish the season ranked and with nine wins for the first time since 2009.Northwestern can only hope Jackson’s latest breakout game in the national spotlight will propel the program to great heights in the loaded Big Ten.

”Hopefully this just shows our guys how hard it is to be a champion,” Fitzgerald said.

Pitt has to replace Conner in the backfield and find a new offensive coordinator. Pitt offensive coordinator Matt Canada called the shots for the final time before packing up for the same position at LSU

Butler shot at buzzer lifts Bulls past lowly Nets

Chicago Bulls Logo - Red bull with script above head

With just under five minutes left, Jimmy Butler had to be helped to the bench and couldn’t seem to put any weight on his right ankle.It appeared his night was over. He was far from finished, though.Butler matched his season high with 40 points and hit a 20-footer at the buzzer Wednesday to give the Bulls a 101-99 comeback victory over the Brooklyn Nets.Butler scored nine points in the final 2 1/2 minutes to rally the Bulls. He finished 11 for 11 from the free throw line and grabbed 11 rebounds as the Bulls overcame a seven-point deficit in the final three minutes for their second consecutive win.

”He was phenomenal, obviously,” Fred Hoiberg said. ”He put the team on his shoulders. He willed them to the finish line.”

Butler also willed himself because he acknowledged his ankle – hurt when he landed on the foot of Brooklyn’s Randy Foye – still was aching after the game. But with Dwyane Wade already in the locker room due to a migraine, Butler never doubted he would return.

”When the adrenaline kicks in and the crowd’s getting into it, I was ready to go,” he said.

Brook Lopez had 33 points – including a career-high five 3-pointers – as the Nets dropped their 12th straight road game.

”Chicago made a great push; they hit a lot of tough shots,” Lopez said. ”I’m disappointed in myself. I definitely should have converted on a few of those last possessions, but I let them get back in the game.”

Lopez had 19 first-half points to spark Brooklyn to a 49-46 halftime lead. The 7-footer was 4 for 5 on 3-pointers in the first 24 minutes and celebrated by holding up three fingers as he ran down the court following each one.Brooklyn had a 97-90 lead with just more than two minutes to play and appeared headed for a comfortable win, but the Bulls stormed back. Michael Carter-Williams tied the game at 97 with 1:22 left.Following a Nets turnover, Butler gave the Bulls their first lead of the second half with a 15-footer with 27.7 seconds to go. Lopez, though, tied it with 12.6 seconds left on a dunk over his brother, Robin Lopez.That set the stage for Butler’s step-back winner.

”That was a big-time shot,” Wade said. ”I’m just proud of him.”

There’s no timetable yet for how long G Jeremy Lin (strained left hamstring) will be sidelined, but expectations are it will be a long absence. He missed 17 games earlier in the season with the same injury and has only played in 12 games this season. … G Joe Harris, who sat out with a hip pointer, is listed as day-to-day.Doug McDermott returned after missing one game with a left shin injury. That meant all the team’s players were healthy for the first time since Oct. 31. ”It’s good to have your full roster available to play,” Hoiberg said.Wade didn’t play in the final 8:22 because of the migraine. ”I lost a little vision,” he said. ”I went on the court and couldn’t see the rim and decided to come out and put some ice on it.”

Brooklyn dropped to 1-15 on the road. The team’s only win away from home was a 122-104 victory in Phoenix on Nov. 12.Hoiberg was happy with the win, but didn’t gloss over the fact his team dug itself a deep hole against a team with eight wins.

”It was disappointing; I’m not going to lie to you,” he said. ”The way they came out and were the aggressors, it seemed like we were fighting uphill.We finally strung together some stops and got the win.”

The Bulls are at Indiana on Friday, four days after a 90-85 win over Indiana at home.

Hawks woes vs Winnipeg continue.

The Winnipeg Jets are making a habit of rising to the occasion when they play the Blackhawks.Blake Wheeler, Mark Scheifele and Drew Stafford scored and Connor Hellebuyck made 34 saves to help Winnipeg beat the Hawks 3-1 on Tuesday night.Jacob Trouba added two assists, and the Jets won their second straight and fourth in five games to improve to 17-17-3. Winnipeg beat the Western Conference-leading Blackhawks for the third time in three tries this season, outscoring the Blackhawks 9-2 over those games.

”They seem to bring out the best in us,” Wheeler said. ”We seem to bring our A-game when we come to this building.

”They’re sitting atop of our conference right now, won three (Stanley) Cups in whatever it is, seven years? We’re willing to grind it out for 60 minutes.”

The Jets outskated and outworked the swift, talented Blackhawks for much of the night, beating them to loose pucks. Then the scoring chances seemed to take care of themselves.

”When we come out and play Chicago, we don’t think about offense,” coach Paul Maurice said. ”We hit four or five posts tonight. That’s offense, but we play the game the right way, play it real hard.”

Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville offered a simple explanation for the Jets’ success:

”They had more speed and had the puck a lot more than we did.”

Artem Anisimov scored his 15th goal in his return from missing three games with an upper-body injury, but the Blackhawks lost their third straight for the first time since last March.

”We just need to be sharper and bring our energy to the game and be dominant,” Anisimov said. ”We just need to find our emotions and get back on track.”

The Blackhawks consecutive defeats (0-2-1) have come at home, while surging Minnesota has cut into Hawks conference and Central Division leads.

”You look at the three games and there were some good stretches in all of them, but not what we were looking for on home ice,” Quenneville said. ”We gave away some valuable points in the standings.”

Corey Crawford blocked 31 shots in his second start since returning from an appendectomy that cost him 10 games.With an assist, the Blackhawks’ Artemi Panarin stretched his career-best points streak to eight games. He has five goals and 14 points during the run.Right wing Marian Hossa missed his second straight game after being placed on injured reserve retroactive to Dec. 20. The 37-year-old forward, who leads the Blackhawks with 16 goals, has been out since getting an upper-body injury early in a loss to Ottawa a week ago.Both teams had several prime chances in the first period. While the Blackhawks shot wide several times, the Jets cashed in on two opportunities to build a 2-0 lead after 20 minutes.Wheeler opened the scoring 8:27 in when he cut across the crease and popped in a rebound of Bryan Little’s deflection. Crawford reacted quickly to stop Little’s tip of Trouba’s drive from the point off a faceoff but couldn’t reset in time for Wheeler’s shot.Scheifele made it 2-0 with 5:12 left in the first with his 15th goal when he parked in front and deflected Trouba’s screened drive from the right point.Anisimov, who jumped right back onto his regular line with Patrick Kane and Panarin, clicked perfectly with Kane at 7:37 of the second to cut it to 2-1.Anisimov slipped down the slot and took Kane’s pinpoint pass from the right circle. He tucked in a shot with a quick forehand-to-backhand-to-forehand move just inches beyond Hellebuyck’s reach.Crawford stopped former Blackhawk Dustin Byfuglien on a breakaway with 4:38 left in the second to keep the Jets’ lead at one goal.Stafford scored at 2:27 of the third to make it 3-1 and end a 12-game drought. Following a turnover by rookie defenseman Gustav Forsling, Stafford took a long pass from Nic Petan, got past the defense and slid a shot under Crawford.

NOTES—Joel Quenneville said Hossa will probably miss Chicago’s next two games and will ”hopefully be ready to come back” when the Blackhawks face the St. Louis Blues in the Winter Classic at Busch Stadium on Jan. 2. … Winnipeg D Tyler Myers, out since Nov. 13 (lower body), missed his 21st game. Coach Paul Maurice said Tuesday that Myers would undergo another test this week and ”we’ll see when he gets back on the ice from there.” … Winnipeg’s scratches included LW Brandon Tanev, C Andrew Copp and RW Chris Thorburn. … The Hawks sat out D’s Michal Kempny and Michal Rozsival and RW Jordin Tootoo.
The Blackhawks begin a three-game trip at Nashville on Thursday night. The swing concludes with the Winter Classic in St. Louis.The Hawks are 1-3 in Outdorr Games,

Bulls rally, but peter out and fall to Spurs 119-100

Chicago Bulls Logo - Red bull with script above head

SAN ANTONIO—The Spurs demand selfless play from the entire roster – except LaMarcus Aldridge.In fact, San Antonio likes it when the 6-foot-10 forward gets a little aggressive, and his performance Sunday showed why.Aldridge had a season-high 33 points and the Spurs held on to beat the Bulls 119-100 after nearly blowing a hot start.

”When a player goes off like LaMarcus did today, it opens things up,” Spurs center Pau Gasol said. ”It definitely creates an impact right away on the game.”

The Bulls rallied from a 20-point deficit to lead by three points midway through the third quarter but could not sustain the push, taking its third straight loss.Aldridge had his second-highest scoring output since joining the Spurs prior to last season. He made his first nine attempts while scoring 20 points in the opening period, his most in any quarter with the Spurs.Aldridge has struggled at times to manage his aggression with coach Gregg Popovich’s ”good-to-great” shot philosophy, but he found a balance against the Bulls.

”Pop is very picky on what is a good shot at times,” Aldridge said. ”Of course, I have a little leeway, but it’s tough for me because I always feel like I’m open even when a guy’s guarding me. I’m trying not to be myself as much to take those tough shots. Try to mix in some good-to-great shots. I’m getting better at it.”

Aldridge’s hot hand helped the Spurs shoot 82 percent in taking a 36-25 lead after the first quarter. San Antonio doubled its lackluster 17-point opening quarter in its first meeting with the Bulls on Dec. 8.

”They hit their shots,” Dwyane Wade said. ”We came out with a game plan. The same game plan we had the first time we played them in Chicago. They didn’t make those shots, they made them tonight.”

Aldridge made his first 11 attempts, finishing 15 for 20 from the field.

”He’s aggressive every night,” said Kawhi Leonard, who finished with 25 points, 10 rebounds and four assists. ”He’s doing his job.”

With Aldridge rolling, Leonard hit consecutive 3-pointers for a 14-3 lead. Aldridge and Leonard combined for 41 points in the opening period, but the Bulls kept pace with a balanced scoring effort fueled by their bench.Jimmy Butler’s 3-pointer gave the Bulls their first lead at 70-67 with 5 minutes remaining in the third.San Antonio regained its double-digit edge at 95-82 on consecutive 3-pointers by Danny Green with Wade shaking his head after running over late to defend.Wade led the Bulls with 24 points, including 10 in the final quarter. Butler added 19 points, and every Bulls starter but Rondo scored in double figures. Rondo was held to six points and two assists in 30 minutes.

NOTES—Wade is the NBA’s active leader in scoring (301 points) and games played (12) on Christmas Day. … Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said he expects Wade to play in the second game of a back-to-back. … G Michael Carter-Williams (sprained left wrist) missed his 26th consecutive game after straining his left wrist on Oct. 31 against Brooklyn….San Antonio shot 82.4 in the opening quarter, its best field goal percentage in a quarter since shooting 84.6 percent against the New York Knicks in the third quarter Dec. 10, 2014. … Aldridge’s career high for points in a quarter is 21, which he had in the opening period against the Bulls on Dec. 12, 2014. … San Antonio’s bench has outscored its opponents in 20 of 30 games….The Bulls host the Indiana Pacers on Monday night.

Barkley tosses 5 picks and Redskins blow away bears 41-21 in front of mucho empty seats.

Oh well, no more home games in this lousy season, and Matt Barkley looked like Jay Cutler at times. Meanwhile, Kirk Cousins threw for a touchdown and ran for two more, and the Washington Redskins gave their fading playoff hopes a boost with a 41-21 victory over the Bears on Saturday.DeSean Jackson added 114 yards receiving, and Washington (8-6-1) intercepted Matt Barkley five times. It added up to an easy win for the Redskins after they relinquished control of the second wild card with a loss to Carolina on Monday night.Eighth in the NFC behind Green Bay and Tampa Bay coming in, Washington scored 14 points in the first quarter after struggling early in recent games and never really was threatened by the struggling Bears (3-12).Cousins, shaky against Carolina, was 18 of 29 for 270 yards. He threw a 17-yard touchdown to Chris Thompson in the first quarter and scored on a 9-yard run in the second. He also pushed in from the 1 late in the third to make it 31-14.Jackson had a 57-yard reception, but left after he got hit in the jaw while blocking in the third quarter. Pierre Garcon caught four passes for 94 yards.Thompson had a rushing touchdown in the first quarter to go with his scoring catch. Josh Norman and Bashaud Breeland each had two interceptions, and the Redskins won their seventh straight against the Bears.Barkley’s five interceptions matched the second-highest total in Bears history and were the most since Jay Cutler threw five against San Francisco on Nov. 12, 2009.Cameron Meredith added 135 yards receiving and Alshon Jeffery had 92. Jordan Howard ran for 119 yards, but the Bears simply got overmatched after back-to-back three-point losses.The best they can do now is finish 4-12 and match their worst record since 2002. The last time they won fewer than four games in a non-strike year was when they went 3-11 in 1973.The Redskins grabbed a 14-0 lead after being held to a total of three first-quarter points in the previous four games.Washington scored on four straight possessions, starting with Thompson’s 7-yard run up the middle midway through the quarter.The Bears cut it to 24-14 in the closing minute of the half on a 21-yard catch by Meredith after a leaping Jeffery hauled in a 37-yard pass.

NOTES—Attendance was…57,953 tickets sold and 18,116 no shows. Seems like more empty seats than that….LB Leonard Floyd exited early in the second quarter because of a concussion and was taken from the sideline on a cart. The first-round draft pick missed a game last month because of a concussion after taking a scary hit against the New York Giants. … DB Deon Bush (ankle) got banged up. … The Bears held out CB Cre’Von LeBlanc because of a knee injury….The Bears visit Minnesota on Jan. 1.

Hawks get Crawford back, but scoring remains a challenge as Avs win in OT

The offense-challenged Colorado Avalanche finally scored not just one, but two goals in a game.And the Avs connected when it really counted against one of the NHL’s top teams.Nathan MacKinnon scored 25 seconds into overtime to lift Colorado to a 2-1 victory over the Blackhawks on Friday night.Cruising in with Tyson Barrie on a 2-on-1 break against Niklas Hjalmarsson, MacKinnon beat Corey Crawford with a high shot that ticked off the post and ended the Avalanche’s five-game losing streak.Mikko Rantanen scored on a deflection at 5:42 of the third period for the Avalanche’s first goal in 167:43 – a franchise record drought. Colorado was shut out in its previous two games, including a 6-0 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday.Until Rantanen connected, Colorado hadn’t scored since Jarome Iginla’s power-play goal with 2:01 left in the third period of a 4-1 loss at Winnipeg last Sunday.Calvin Pickard made 38 saves while the Avalanche’s No. 1 goalie, Semyon Varlamov, remained in Denver to have his groin injury assessed. Pickard kept Colorado in this one until the late scoring came through.

”I just had that feeling we were going to tie it up in the third,” Pickard said. ”We had a lot of good chances.”

Varlamov started Colorado’s loss to Toronto on Thursday, but left at 8:42 of the second after allowing five goals on 18 shots. Last-place Colorado won for just the third time in its last 15 games.Jonathan Toews stopped a 13-game drought with his fifth goal of the season. Toews’ power-play score midway through the second was his first since Nov. 5, a span that includes missing nine games with a back injury.

”He had the puck a lot and that’s going to be good for him going forward, getting those greasy goals like he did tonight,” coach Joel Quenneville said.Crawford had 32 stops in his return from an appendectomy. He missed 10 games following surgery on Dec. 3.Crawford said it wasn’t hard to get back in a groove.

”I was just trying to feel good right from the start,” he said. ”Reading plays and reacting after that.”

Artemi Panarin extended his point streak to seven games with a nifty setup on Toews’ goal. He has five goals and eight assists in the run.The Hawks played without forwards Marian Hossa and Artem Anisimov due to upper-body injuries. Hossa leads the team with 16 goals, and Anisimov has 14. They could return Tuesday against Winnipeg.The Avalanche got off to a fast start after they were drubbed in Denver on Thursday night, running up an 8-1 shots advantage early in the scoreless first against the Blackhawks. Crawford made several alert saves, including a sprawling stop on MacKinnon’s backhander about 6 minutes in.Toews’ power-play goal at 11:52 put the Hawks in front. After Pickard stopped Duncan Keith from the slot, Panarin fired the rebound across the front of the net from the left side.Toews, hovering at right side of the cage, smacked in the puck from midair.Rantanen responded at 5:42 of the third, redirecting Barrie’s shot from the right point.Crawford stepped up again midway through the third, giving the Blackhawks a chance for at least a point. He stopped Gabriel Landeskog and Barrie in close, and then denied Blake Comeau on a breakaway.

NOTES: There is no timetable for Varlamov’s return. Colorado recalled G Spencer Martin from San Antonio of the AHL to back up Pickard. … F Vinnie Hinostroza missed the morning skate with an illness, but was in the lineup and skated with fellow rookies Tyler Motte and Ryan Hartman. … Hawks healthy scratches were Ds Michal Kempny and Michal Rozsival. Colorado’s were D Patrick Wiercioch and LW Cody McLeod…..The Blackhawks host Winnipeg on Tuesday night.

Bulls lose their cool….and another game.

Chicago Bulls Logo - Red bull with script above head

CHARLOTTE—Triple-doubles, flying elbows, two ejections and a revved-up crowd cheering until the end.Even Michael Jordan was there sitting courtside.It may only be December, but Friday night’s game between the Charlotte Hornets and Bulls had all of the intensity of a postseason game.Nic Batum had 20 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists for his first triple-double of the season, and the Hornets beat the Bulls 103-91 for their third straight victory.

”That was like a playoff game tonight,” Batum said. ”The crowd was into it and it was a good team in front of us. That’s a great game for us to get a win against.”

It didn’t come easily.Charlotte had to hold off the Bulls in the fourth quarter in a game that ended with Robin Lopez and Taj Gibson getting ejected.The normally mild-mannered Lopez could face a suspension from the league after he simultaneously elbowed Cody Zeller and Marvin Williams in the face – using both elbows – with 38 seconds left and the outcome already decided. Gibson, who had picked up a technical foul for arguing a call earlier in the fourth quarter, got his second and was ejected when he debated the call.After watching the replay, referees sent Lopez to the locker room with a flagrant 2 foul.Lopez wouldn’t say exactly what set him off.

”It was pretty contentious out there. We had tempers flare,” Lopez said. ”Basketball is a passionate game and I play with passion.”

Gibson was more outspoken.

”They can’t let the game get out of hand like that,” Gibson said of the referees. ”Guys are throwing elbows and throwing cheap shots. That’s what I said, `They got to do a better job.”’

Kemba Walker chipped in with 20 points, and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist had 12 points, nine rebounds and four blocked shots for Charlotte (17-13).The Hornets had a crucial four-point swing go their way with 3 minutes left when Batum hustled down the floor to block the 7-foot Lopez’s layup off a fast break. Walker then converted a reverse layup on the other end.Despite the efforts of Jimmy Butler, who drained back-to-back jumpers, the Bulls could never quite claw back in it after that.Dwyane Wade played despite battling a migraine headache most of the day and had 12 points on 5-of-16 shooting. … The Bulls outrebounded the Hornets 52-48.Former Bull Marco Belinelli left the game in the second quarter with a sprained left ankle and did not return. He hopped on one foot to the locker room after coming down wrong on his foot. … Before the game, Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg called Walker one of the best guards in the NBA, saying, ”he’s a guy that can take over games at any time. He can get into the paint. He does a great job getting into the bigs’ bodies, keeping them off, where he can finish at the rim.”

The Hornets held the Bulls to 39.6 percent shooting and blocked a season-high 13 shots.Jimmy Butler had 26 points for the Bulls (14-15), who have lost five of their last six to fall below .500 for the first time this season. Butler has scored at least 20 points in 24 of the team’s 29 games this season.The Hornets have a tough stretch coming up, including a home game against the Cleveland Cavaliers.The Bulls will travel to San Antonio for a Christmas day matinee game against the San Antonio Spurs.

USF beat ISU in Diamond Head Semis


HONOLULU—Freshman Charles Minlend scored a career-high 17 points and Frankie Ferrari had a career-high 16 as San Francisco defeated Illinois State 66-58 in the Diamond Head Classic Friday night.San Francisco (10-2) will play San Diego State in the tournament’s championship game on Christmas night. The Dons shot 14 for 26 from the free throw line.Ferrari scored eight points off the bench in the first half and was a starter in the second half.After a Ferrari steal he sprinted the other way and dished to Nate Renfro for a layup to give San Francisco a 52-47 lead with 6:27 to play. Matt McCarthy finished with 11 points and 11 boards for the Dons.Deontae Hawkins’s 3 brought Illinois State to within 61-55 with 45 seconds to play and Paris Lee hit a 3 nine seconds later to make it 62-58.MiKyle McIntosh led the Redbirds with 20 points and 12 rebounds. Hawkins added 12 points and 10 boards.

Missouri State beats DePaul in Vegas Third Place Game

Image result for continental tires las vegas classic logo

LAS VEGAS—Alize Johnson scored 17 points and had 12 rebounds and Obediah Church scored 16 on 6-for-7 shooting and Missouri State controlled most of the way in a 69-58 win against DePaul in the Las Vegas Classic Friday night.Johnson’s 3-point play started a 20-8 Bears run to put them up 37-25 at halftime. Brandon Cyrus made a pair of free throws and a jumper, reducing DePaul’s deficit to 39-33.But Missouri State got a pair of layups from Ryan Kreklow, and Church’s 3-point play gave the Bears a 46-33 lead. R.J. Currington’s layup after an offensive board brought the Blue Demons to within 52-43. Eli Cain added a dunk and Cyrus’s layup made it 53-47.Johnson had a pair of free throws, Church added a dunk and Jarred Dixon’s layup pushed Missouri State’s lead to 63-51. Billy Garrett Jr.’s 3 with 2:20 to go marked the last time the Blue Demons would get the deficit to single digits at 65-56.Garrett finished with 16 points.