- Created on 25 March 2013
MINNEAPOLIS — Nate Robinson had 22 points and 10 assists and Carlos Boozer added 19 points and 12 rebounds to lead the Chicago Bulls to a 104-97 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday night.
Luol Deng scored 17 points and Taj Gibson had 12 points and 11 rebounds for the Bulls, who were missing Joakim Noah for the second straight game because of plantar fasciitis. They still dominated the boards, 52-32, including 20 offensive rebounds.
Derrick Williams scored 28 points and Ricky Rubio had 15 points and eight assists for the Timberwolves.
Minnesota got as close as five points in the fourth quarter, but the Bulls overpowered the Wolves down the stretch to win back-to-back road games for the first time since Jan. 16-18.
Jimmy Butler added 20 points and nine rebounds for the Bulls, who remained a half-game back of Atlanta for fifth in the East.
Dante Cunningham's jumper with five minutes to play trimmed a 16-point deficit to 90-85, but Deng grabbed another offensive rebound on the next trip down the floor, then hit Robinson for an open 3-pointer at the top of the arc. The ball swished through, and Robinson pumped his fist as thousands of Bulls fans roared.
Chicago also played without Richard Hamilton (lower back), Marco Belinelli (abdominal strain) and, of course, Derrick Rose, who has not played yet this season while recovering from a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee.
Even without Noah prowling the paint, the Bulls were still the aggressors. Veteran Nazr Mohammed made his second straight start and helped neutralize Nikola Pekovic on the block. Gibson pounded the Wolves on the glass and Robinson, Chicago's 5-foot-9 pit bull, was his typical tenacious self at the point of attack. On a night when the Bulls needed a little extra energy early while playing short-handed on a back-to-back, Robinson came off the bench to jumpstart the sluggish offense.
He hit a jumper and then fed Gibson for a soaring alley-oop for a 16-point lead just before the half.
Rubio tried to rally the Wolves in the third quarter, throwing bounce passes between Bulls legs for open layups and barreling to the basket with little regard for the left ACL that he tore last March. He returned in December and, even though there's an occasional limp in his gait when he peels himself up from the court after crashing into a defender, his game has been back to where it was before the injury for about the last month.
The Bulls can find some solace in that while their own star point guard works his way back. Rose has been out longer than Rubio was, but he relies so much more on athleticism and explosion than does Rubio.
There is still no target date for Rose's return, leading to some speculation that he may not return this season at all.
- Created on 22 March 2013
LaMarcus Aldridge said he enjoys playing in Chicago. It sure showed Thursday night.
Aldridge scored 28 points to lead the Portland Trail Blazers to a 99-89 victory over the Chicago Bulls.
"This is one of my top three cities to play in, all the tradition. They traded me on draft night, so this is always fun," said Aldridge, whom the Bulls selected with the second overall pick in 2006 before trading him to the Blazers in a deal involving their pick, Tyrus Thomas.
Damian Lillard added 24 and the Portland improved to 10-25 on the road to sweep the season series with the Bulls for the first time since the 2008-09 season. The Blazers beat Chicago 102-94 on Nov. 18 in their other meeting this season.
Joakim Noah had 18 points and Carlos Boozer added 16 points and 11 rebounds for Chicago, which shot 44 percent.
"That was probably, if not the best, one of our better defensive performances of the season," Blazers coach Terry Stotts said.
"Our pick-and-roll defense was very good. We helped. Our weak side was active. We covered the paint pretty well. The points came, but they didn't come without the defense."
J.J. Hickson grabbed a career-high 21 rebounds for Portland, which held a 45-41 rebounding advantage.
"The energy was there. Everyone was focused on the game plan," Blazers forward Nicolas Batum said.
Chicago led 21-20 after the first quarter, but Portland scored the first 14 points of the second quarter and outscored the Bulls 32-16 in the period to take a 52-37 lead at halftime. Aldridge led Portland with 16 points at the break and Lillard had 13.
"First quarter was fine. Second quarter was bad," Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. "We have to be up on them more than we were. You give them space, they are going to score. We need to play better."
Portland extended its lead to 28 in the third quarter before the Bulls made a late charge, outscoring the Blazers 36-19 in the final quarter. Jimmy Butler scored 10 of his 12 points in the fourth quarter to help Chicago get within 10 points with under 36 seconds left.
The injury-plagued Bulls got Kirk Hinrich and Taj Gibson back. Hinrich started at point guard after missing seven games with a sore right foot. Gibson, a reserve, also returned after missing 10 games with a sprained MCL in his left knee.
Hinrich struggled, shooting 1 of 7 from the field for two points. He scored his first points on a layup with under five minutes left in the third quarter. Gibson was 7 of 14 for 14 points.
"Every game is a grind right now. We're so short-handed," Boozer said.
The Blazers shot 49 percent from the field and went 10 of 21 from 3-point range, led by Lillard's four 3-pointers. Batum and Wesley Matthews each hit three 3-pointers.
"Our defense was terrible," Gibson said. "We couldn't stop them. They were hot. The ball pressure wasn't good enough. They were knocking down jump shots from every single part of the court."
Portland has beaten the Bulls in four straight meetings and won nine of its last 11 against Chicago. The Blazers had lost 14 of their last 16 road games before Thursday.
The Bulls fell to 3-6 in March, while Portland improved to 6-5 this month.
Aldridge grabbed eight rebounds to fall short of his sixth consecutive double-double. The Western Conference Player of the Week had averaged 26.8 points and 12.2 rebounds in his last five games.
While the Bulls got Hinrich and Gibson back from injuries, Derrick Rose remains out. Rose said during Thursday's shootaround that he isn't sure when he'll return from his knee injury. The former MVP point guard sounded like he might miss the entire season and said he's experiencing some soreness in his surgically repaired left knee. He had ACL surgery in May. Rose said he hasn't experienced any setbacks in his recovery.
"Nothing has changed," Thibodeau said. "Go day to day. He continues to get better."
- Created on 18 March 2013
PEORIA, Ill. — Morgan Park received contributions from up and down its lineup this season. It was no different in the IHSA Class 3A boys basketball state title game on Saturday, as the Mustangs had four players score in double figures in a 63-48 win against Cahokia.
Led by 14 points from DePaul recruit Billy Garrett, 13 from Markee Williams, 11 from Xzavier Taylor and 10 from Dayton recruit Kyle Davis, Morgan Park (33-3) won its second state title and first since 1976.
Leading 37-31 after three quarters, Morgan Park went on a 12-0 run to push its lead to 18 and never was threatened again. Garrett wasn't concerned.
"I trusted in our guys," he said. "(Coach Nick Irvin) trusted in us just like he has all season.
"You know, once we got a little momentum, we were good. It just took a little while."
It helped that shots that were just missing early in the second half started falling.
"We were getting good looks but missing chip shots," Irvin said. "We kept attacking and kept attacking, then Billy and Kyle woke up and we pulled away."
The Mustangs held a slim 29-24 lead at halftime despite destroying Cahokia on the boards.
Cahokia had just eight rebounds in the first half, compared to 23 for Morgan Park, and the Mustangs out-rebounded the Comanches 43-26 overall.
"It was something we were definitely trying to do," said Taylor, who had 12 rebounds, including seven offensive. "Coach said they weren't very good on the glass and that was how we would beat them. We got a lot of second chances."
The Comanches didn't get their first offensive board until early in the third quarter and that was a team board when an errant shot ended up out of bounds after touching a Morgan Park player. The Mustangs grabbed 24 offensive rebounds, including 12 in the first half. Cahokia had just 26 rebounds total and nine on the offensive glass.
"When you can't score, it's a problem," Cahokia coach Darian Nash said. "We just didn't do the little things. They outrebounded us. you're not going to win many games like that."
Cahokia (33-4) was led by nine points each from Carleton Rivers and Vincent Jackson Jr. Darius Austin and Keenan Minor added eight points apiece.
Irvin said Davis, a transfer from Chicago Hyde Park, was a catalyst in the title run.
"I said when Kyle walked in the door that we were going to be state champions," Irvin said. "Between Markee, Billy and Kyle, it's the best trio of guards to ever come out of the state of Illinois."
- Created on 18 March 2013
PEORIA, Ill. — Simeon's Jabari Parker will certainly be remembered for many things. The Duke commit was Illinois' Mr. Basketball as a junior and will likely be that again in 2013. He was the National Player of the year as a junior and it would be hard to argue against him to repeat. He had his number 22 retired at the school while still playing.
He thinks, though, his biggest accomplishment in basketball so far is four consecutive Illinois state basketball titles. He finished that goal on Saturday by scoring 20 points, leading Simeon to a 58-40 win against Lincolnshire Stevenson in the IHSA Class 4A state finals.
It's just the second time an Illinois school has won four in a row. Peoria Manual did it from 1994-97.
"We've been writing history all along," Parker said after the win. "This is how they are going to remember us."
Russell Woods added a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds, Kendall Pollard chipped in 10 points and nine boards and Parker added eight rebounds for the Wolverines (30-3).
The title also gives Simeon seven championships overall, a record it continues to add to. Simeon coach Robert Smith believes the team's national schedule gives the Wolverines a decided edge in comparisons to the Manual run.
"We played those teams on their home floors. We went to Oak Hill. We went to Dallas. We went to Memphis," Smith said. "I think this is the best program in the state."
Simeon stumbled out of the gate in the championship game, turning the ball over in its first two possessions before righting itself and jumping to a 27-17 lead midway through the second quarter. The Patriots hung around, though, trailing by just seven, 31-24, at halftime behind Jalen Brunson's 13 points.
The Wolverines' Jaylon Tate shut down Brunson after the initial burst, holding the sophomore star to just one second-half point.
"I just tried to give him a lot of pressure," Tate said of the defensive stops. "He's a good player but the pressure seemed to work in the second half."
The Wolverines also took advantage of a Patriots scoring drought to begin the second half. Stevenson missed its first five shots in the third quarter and didn't score until Connor Cashaw hit two free throws with 3 minutes, 37 seconds to go in the third quarter. Cashaw hit a jumper with just less than two minutes to go for Stevenson's first field goal but by then it was 42-28 and Simeon never looked back.
Smith moved Parker to the post after the 6-foot-8 senior began the game on the wing. The mismatch with Stevenson's tallest player being just 6-3 was evident.
"Taking advantage of the mismatch, that helped Russell and me," Parker said. "It also helped with Jaylon (Tate) getting us the ball. That really helped."
Stevenson's Andrew Stempel added 13 points.
- Created on 14 March 2013
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Chicago Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau was standing next to his team's bench late in the fourth quarter, hands in his pockets and a grimace on his face.
The pained expression and the negative body language were the result of another Bulls loss, this one in embarrassing fashion.
Tyreke Evans had 26 points and seven assists in the Sacramento Kings' most lopsided victory of the season, a 121-79 rout of the Bulls on Wednesday night.
The Kings opened the second quarter with a 26-4 run against the lethargic Bulls to hike their lead to 34 points. It was an almost error-free first half for the Kings, who committed just one turnover and took a 65-36 lead into intermission.
The Bulls have dropped a season-high five straight road games and have a 7-12 record since beating Milwaukee on Jan. 30. It was the most one-sided loss all season for Chicago and Sacramento's largest margin of victory ever against the Bulls.
"It was embarrassing, man. It's hard to put into words," Bulls forward Carlos Boozer said.
Boozer will get no argument from Thibodeau. The Bulls shot 38 percent, missed 19 of 21 3-point attempts, and committed 17 turnovers.
However, what was not in the stat sheet afterward was effort. The Bulls were lacking in that department as well.
"Our level of intensity was very poor. Our readiness to play was very poor," Thibodeau said. "But I'm probably most disappointed in me. It's my job to have them ready. We can't come out like that, that's on me. I have to drive (them) harder and I will."
Boozer scored 21 points and Nate Robinson had 19 for the slumping Bulls, who lost their second straight and fourth in five games.
Short-handed Chicago played without injured forward Taj Gibson (knee) and veteran guards Richard Hamilton (back) and Kirk Hinrich (foot), who are all out indefinitely.
"We're not playing well offensively or defensively," said Joakim Noah, who had six points and nine rebounds. "It's no time to make excuses (about injuries). We need to find a way to bounce back. We just have to move on fast and get ready for Golden State (on Friday). They are a lot better team than this team (the Kings)."
The Kings shot 54 percent, had a season-low five turnovers and scored 27 fast-break points. According to Elias Sports Bureau, it was the Kings' largest margin of victory since Jan. 2, 1993, when they beat the Philadelphia 76ers 154-98.
Making his first start of the season, Patrick Patterson had 14 points and nine rebounds, and Jason Thompson had 12 points for the Kings, who snapped a five-game losing streak against Chicago.
"I was just picking and popping and my teammates were finding opportunities for me," said Patterson, who came to the Kings in a February trade with Houston. "I was just being in the right place at the right time."
At least for one game, it mattered very little that Sacramento played without DeMarcus Cousins, the Kings' leading scorer and rebounder. He missed the game due to a sore left knee.
Cousins picked up his 12th technical foul of the season and was ejected from Sunday's game against Milwaukee after picking up a Flagrant 2 for elbowing Mike Dunleavy in the head.
Though there was speculation Cousins would be suspended by the NBA and miss the game, the volatile center was spared of his third league suspension this season.
"We just opened the court up a little more (with Cousins out) and had our guards attack," guard Isaiah Thomas said. "We were in attack mode from the jump. We know they're a great defensive team and we wanted to just stay back in attack mode. I think Tyreke started it off and that got me going a little bit, then other people got going."
There was no letting up in the third quarter for the Kings, who didn't allow the Bulls to cut into their 29-point deficit. Thomas had 11 points and continued to push the tempo for Sacramento, which took a 93-60 lead into the fourth.
Evans had 18 points in the first half, when the Kings shot 58 percent. Sacramento began the second quarter with an 11-2 run and the lead remained in double figures the remainder of the game.
"It's not so much the winning or losing right now, it's the way we're playing," Noah said. "Is it the readiness? I wish I knew."
It was a horrible first half at both ends of the court for the Bulls, who shot 35 percent, committed eight turnovers, and allowed 15 fast-break points. Boozer was the only bright spot for Chicago with 16 points.
Patterson helped get the Kings off to a fast start, making all five shots and scoring 11 first-quarter points. Sacramento shot 65 percent in the opening quarter and led 34-20.
"We need to get our swag back; get our confidence back," Boozer said. "The only people that can fix it are in this room. (Maybe) we need a game like this to wake us up. The playoffs will be here in the blink of an eye."
Notes: Former league MVP Derrick Rose worked out before the game. Rose, who tore his anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee last April, is still contemplating a return to the Bulls this season. . Evans has averaged 23.7 points in his last three games. . Kings reserve forward James Johnson missed his second straight game due to personal reasons. . Attendance was 14,426. ... Marco Belinelli missed all nine shots for the Bulls, including five 3-point attempts.