After slow start, Gibson plans quick turnaround

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After slow start, Gibson plans quick turnaround

Thus far in the young NBA season, Taj Gibson hasnt been the same Taj Gibson that Bulls fans have come to know and love. The Gibson that earned a long-term contract extension as the season opener was being played has been largely absent this season, but in the mind of his coach, hes beginning to reappear.

He started slowly, but hes picking it up. I think hes gotten a lot more comfortable over the last three or four games. His defense has been very good. And its not about individuals, its about how the team is functioning when hes on the floor, so thats where we have to have our focus, on the team and winning, Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau said following the teams morning shootaround Wednesday at the Berto Center.

Hes playing a lot with the starters, so he has to play with both groups and he has to play well, and the team has to function well and theres a lot of things that he brings that we need. High energy, great defense. His offense is coming around right now. He was very comfortable in the post at the end of last year. Weve got to get him in there more. Hes got to slow down a little bit, but I like the way hes played the last few games.

As for Gibson, while hes hard on himself, he doesnt attribute his decreased production 6.6 points and 4.5 rebounds per game are down from his career numbers, though hes averaging a slight uptick in blocked shots, at 1.5 a night to the pressure of receiving a new contract. However, the fourth-year power forward does acknowledge that hes not playing up to his usual standards.

I just have to do more. I was just getting frustrated. I havent been able to shoot the ball well after putting in a ton of work this summer. Ive just got to work my way out of it. Im trying to just do other things, he said Wednesday. Try to be solid on defense, try to make plays for others, like I did last game. Just try to bring energy to help this team win.

Theres always pressure because youre wearing the Bulls jersey. Our bench is still is adjusting to the different schemes. Its not the same team it was last year, Gibson continued, referring to the Bulls revamped bench, of which he is the lone holdover who played significant minutes last season. I have to do a lot more on defense. I have to talk a lot more and I have to be more vocal, especially on offense. The coaching staff is telling me to keep working. Im putting in more work. Just got to keep working harder.

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Five Things from Blackhawks-Canucks: Corey Crawford rebounds

Five Things from Blackhawks-Canucks: Corey Crawford rebounds

The Blackhawks’ starts have been all over the map this season but their finishes have usually been strong. That was the case again on Sunday night as the Blackhawks took a lead, lost a lead and regained a lead for good in their 4-2 victory over the Vancouver Canucks.

This one featured a little bit of everything. So let’s just get to the Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ victory over Vancouver.

1. Jonathan Toews breaks through. If the Blackhawks captain’s confidence was a little shaken with his lack of scoring this season, it should’ve gotten a boost with his Sunday outing. Toews’ goal and three assists were as big for him as they were the Blackhawks, who needed every bit of it late against the Canucks. In his last 12 games Toews has three goals and eight assists. He’s getting there. Said coach Joel Quenneville, “it seems like he was around the puck way more and when he does that, usually good things happen.”

2. Great start. This hasn’t been written very often but it was more than evident on Sunday night. If this wasn’t the Blackhawks’ best opening period of the season it was pretty close, as they broke out to a 2-0 lead against the Canucks. The Blackhawks, outside of a 3 ½-minute sequence without a shot on goal, were tenacious and ready to shoot, taking an 18-9 shots-on-goal edge in that first.

3. Corey Crawford rebounds. Quenneville considered Scott Darling for this game, an understandable thought with Darling coming off a 30-stop shutout. But he wanted Crawford to get back to where he was prior to his appendectomy, and Crawford took a step in that direction on Sunday night. In stopping 25 of 27 shots Crawford got his 18th victory of the season and 200th of his career. Quenneville said Crawford “looked like he was in control.”

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4. Michal Kempny’s tough stretch. When Kempny has been good this season he’s been very good. When he’s been bad... The defenseman was in the penalty box when the Canucks scored their first goal and he was beaten by Bo Horvat on the Canucks’ second goal. Kempny didn’t play the final 14 minutes of the game. Quenneville, who liked what Kempny brought on the team’s road trip, said Kempny just has to work through some things. “Coverage with awareness and knowing sometimes it’s man coverage, sometimes it’s playing the puck and clearing the loose stuff,” Quenneville said. “Defenseman is a tough position as you’re growing and learning it, but the more you play the better you play and I still think he’s making progress.”

5. Brian Campbell gets to keep No. 500 this time. Campbell thought he had his 500th point against the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday night but it was taken away. Well he got it back on Sunday night, setting up Richard Panik’s 11th goal of the season in the first period.