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Windy City Sports Report – 1/21/13

21 Jan

“The real glory is being knocked to your knees and then coming back. That’s real glory.” -Vince Lombardi

Hello sports fans, Carlos here with your Windy City Sports Report. In this edition, the Bulls keep rolling; the Bears get their man; we finally have hockey.

The return of Derrick Rose is near, but the Bulls are too busy winning games to be concerned about that. They had four games this week, trying to gain on the Central-leading Indiana Pacers. They played the overtime game this week, having three of them in a row.

The week started with a home game against the Atlanta Hawks on Monday. The Bulls usually have tough games against the Hawks, and seeing that they are struggling at home, it looked to be another difficult one. That was not the case, however, as the Bulls just blasted the Hawks in a 97-58 win. No, that is not a typo, the Bulls held the Hawks to 58 points, just 9 points more than the shot clock era record.

The Bulls started out fast, taking a 26-15 lead after the first quarter. Then the second quarter happened.

Ivan Johnson scored a basket with 2:54 left in the first quarter. The Hawks did not score another basket until there was 5:15 left in the second quarter. They missed 17 consecutive shots in that period on their way to a 5-point quarter. The Bulls found themselves with a 48-20 lead at halftime, and the Hawks were more concerned with not setting the dubious record than with winning.

Carlos Boozer led the Bulls with 20 points and 13 rebounds and Luol Deng had 18 points.

After an embarrassing loss to the Suns the previous Saturday, Coach Tom Thibodeau ripped into his team at practice. “Early this morning, Thibs was going crazy on us at shootaround. Just waking up early in the morning and having Thibs just screaming at you and screaming at you and screaming at you,” Joakim Noah said, “we didn’t want that to happen to us again.

Checking through the scores around the city, there were 10 high school teams in the area that scored more points than the Hawks. You do not see many games like that.

After a day off, the Bulls traveled out of the country to face the Raptors in Toronto. They once again blew a big lead (up by 19 at one point in the second half), but recovered to get a razor-thin 107-105 victory.

Boozer again had a monster game. He scored 36 points (his highest point total as a Bull) and grabbed 12 rebounds. Noah had 16 points and 14 rebounds. Deng scored 19 points, including the game-winning basket with 3 seconds left in overtime.

Deng logged in 48 minutes, even after straining his hamstring in the first quarter. He just went with it and continued his stellar play.

Thibodeau was not surprised at how hard Deng played, and his taking and making the game winner. “The guys that have been around and seen him play a lot know that’s what he does-whatever you need,” he said. “You need great defense, he does that. You need a rebound in traffic, he does that. You need a big shot, he does that. To me, that’s who he is. That’s what makes him such a good player.”

On Friday, the Bulls traveled to Boston to tangle with the Celtics. This has been an interesting rivalry since Rose came into the league. In his rookie season the two teams battled through an epic seven game playoff series that had big shots, great defense, multiple overtimes and many skirmishes. Since then it’s pretty much been the same, and Friday’s game was no different, with the Bulls coming out on top 100-99 in overtime.

The Bulls led the game throughout, leading by as many as nine points, but gave up the lead late in the game and found themselves behind with 13 seconds left. Boston had the ball and a two point lead. It looked grim for the Bullies. Their tough defense forced a jump ball, though, and Noah won the tip. The ball was passed to Kirk Hinrich, who hit the game-tying shot with 2 seconds remaining.

In the overtime, the Bulls had a three point lead with 51 seconds before the Celtics took over. Jason Terry’s jumper gave the Celtics a 99-98 lead with about six seconds remaining. Then Marco Belinelli took the inbounds pass, bobbled it, and then hit a sideways, fading jumper with 3.1 seconds for the win.

Boozer once again put in a strong game. He scored 19 points and grabbed 20 rebounds. Boozer is finally looking like the player the Bulls looked for when they signed him to a big contract three seasons ago.

Rip Hamilton put in 20 points, and Jimmy Butler, who came in for Deng late in the third quarter after his injured hamstring knocked him out of the game, came up big. He had 13 points, including six straight late in the overtime.

Kevin Garnett was held to just 5-16 in the game, and afterwards Noah was asked how he contained Garnett. “(I was) just playing defense,” Noah said. “Just playing sound defense, just contesting his shots. He’s a helluva competitor. He’s always on some bulls–. Always on some bulls–.”

When asked for clarification, Noah responded, “Just trying to throw elbows. Cheap shots, just trying to get you off your game.” He was also asked whether Garnett’s trash talking went over the line. Recently Garnett got into it with the Knicks’ Carmelo Anthony when he allegedly told Anthony that his wife tasted like Honey Nut Cheerios. Noah responded, “Nah. When we lose, I feel like he crosses the line. But since we’ve been beating their asses, I’m cool with it.”

The win gave the Bulls 14 consecutive road wins on Fridays. The last time they lost on the road on a Friday was in April of 2011. They also recorded their 39th straight win when scoring 100+ points, second most in NBA history (41 by the 2005-2006 San Antonio Spurs).

After the thriller in Boston, the Bulls went home and faced the Memphis Grizzlies. Deng would not play, resting his injured hamstring. The team again had a close game, playing their third straight overtime game. This time, they fell on the short end, losing 85-82.

This time, it was the Bulls who made a comeback from a big deficit. They were down 17 in the third quarter before forcing the game into overtime.

Butler had his first NBA start in Deng’s place and had a strong game, scoring a career-high 18 points. He again came through in overtime, forcing turnovers and scoring points when the rest of the team seemed slow and had trouble getting the ball through the hoop. They only scored six points in the overtime, shooting 3 of 10.

In the fourth quarter and overtime, the Bulls also played without Noah. When asked about it after the game, Thibodeau would only say “That’s just a coaching decision.” Noah left without talking to the media. He finished with 10 points and 5 rebounds.

The loss left the Bulls with a 3-1 record for the week. They are just a game behind the Pacers in the Central, and 5th in the Eastern Conference, just 3 ½ games behind the Miami Heat.

The Bulls have 4 games this week, the first three at home (not sure that is a good thing for them). On Monday, they host the Los Angeles Lakers. On Wednesday, they host the Detroit Pistons. On Friday, they host the Golden State Warriors before traveling to Washington to face the Wizards.

The Bears got their coaching candidates down to three early last week, then late in the week they got their man- Marc Trestman.

BearsCoach

Trestman coached the last four years in the Canadian Football League for the Montreal Alouettes. In his four years there, he won two Grey Cups (the CFL’s equivalent to the Super Bowl) and coached in another.

Trestman also has NFL experience, having coached for a number of teams. He was Rich Gannon’s QB Coach when he won his MVP, and helped develop Steve Young’s Hall of Fame career.

Wherever Trestman has gone, his quarterbacks have succeeded. In addition to Gannon and Young, he also coached Bernie Kosar to his best years in both the University of Miami and the Cleveland Browns. Also, Anthony Calvillo won back-to-back MVP’s in the CFL under the guidance of Trestman. He has been asked time and again to assist young quarterbacks who enter the NFL draft.

Trestman is considered having a great offensive mind, which is a departure from Lovie Smith, who was more defensive oriented. Under Smith the Bears struggled mightily on offense. In Smith’s nine years as coach, the highest the offense ranked was 15th, and that year they went to the Super Bowl. Having a quarterback with a big arm like Jay Cutler, receivers like Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffrey, and running backs like Matt Forte and Michael Bush, the Bears have the pieces to become a good offensive unit.

Another area where Trestman can help the Bears is at offensive line. When he got to Montreal his offensive line ranked last in sacks allowed. At the end of his first season, his o-line ranked first in that same category. In Chicago, he faces a similar task. The Bears rank last in sacks allowed over the last four years. We will see what happens next season.

Trestman’s arrival at first had Bears’ fans apprehensive. He was not the known candidate and he was away from the NFL for five years. At his press conference, however, GM Phil Emery lined out the reasons for his choice in a detailed, rational form, and Trestman brought an excitement that had been lacking at Halas Hall for a while. On a team that finished 10-6 this season, there is much hope for next season. We will see what Free Agency and the Draft bring, and see where that hope is six months from now.

The NHL is back! After a long lockout and a realization that the season could be canceled, the owners and players got together and agreed on a new CBA and the season was saved.

The season started on Saturday, and the Blackhawks got off on the right foot with a 5-2 victory, spoiling the defending Stanley Cup Champions Los Angeles Kings’ home opener. The best thing that happened all night for the Kings was when they raised their banner. After that it was all Blackhawks.

Marian Hossa had two goals and an assist. The last time we saw Hossa he was being carried out on a stretcher after a dirty hit by Phoenix Coyotes’ Raffi Torres, who was suspended 25 games for the hit. He used the lockout to his advantage and had a great opening game.  “I haven’t played in a long time because of the concussion, so I tried to keep it simple, especially at the beginning,” Hossa said. “Nothing too fancy.”

On Sunday, the Blackhawks traveled to Phoenix to face the aforementioned Coyotes, and again spoiled a pregame banner celebration, winning 6-4.

Again, it was Hossa, scoring another two goals, and Dave Bolland had two goals and an assist.

Hossa returned to Phoenix to a chorus of boos. It was quite mind-boggling considering Hossa did nothing to merit those boos. It was Torres who blindsided Hossa, nearly ending his career. Hossa said before the game that he had no extra motivation, but his play betrayed his words.

It will be interesting to see how the Blackhawks handle this condensed season. Two seasons ago, they were the champs, but last season was just a chore. Hopefully Hossa can have another stellar season, and the goalie situation does not hurt them.

This week the Hawks have their own celebration. They have their home opener on Tuesday against the St Louis Blues. They then travel to Dallas on Thursday to face the Stars. They go to Columbus on Saturday to face the Blue Jackets before coming back home on Sunday to face the Detroit Red Wings. That would make it five road games in their first seven games. Perhaps they can be road warriors like the Bulls.

Well that’s all for this week. Until next week, enjoy your sports.

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