Belinelli hopes shooting slump is over


Belinelli hopes shooting slump is over

SOUTH BEND, IND. For Marco Belinelli, the seven points he scored in Friday evenings Bulls win over the Pacers were more symbolic than anything else. Known as a sharpshooter over the course of his NBA career, the native of Italy has been mired in a slump the entire preseason.

So when he hit an improbable three-pointer to beat the shot clock in the first half of the exhibition finale the shooting guards first of the preseason it felt like a weight was lifted off his back. He would later go on to hit a contested fadeaway jumper out of the mid-post, then a layup off a sharp cut in the second half and played, at the least, determined defense.

This is a good team, so I just want to be the best player that I can be. But its important tonight to me that we won the game and I hope that were going to be ready for the first regular-season game, Belinelli said afterwards. I was really pissed off, especially when a shooter cant score the ball. Its terrible, but at the same time, I try to be positive, work on my shot and be ready to score the ball. Its important to me to go on the court and be real aggressive. Thats the most important thing.

I just tried to be more aggressive. I was watching the games, the last couple games that I didnt play real well, so I wasnt aggressive. That was one of my mistakes, so tonight, I went to the court, tried to be aggressive, take my shot, take the foul or do something for my teammates and be aggressive on defense. I think that tonight its important that we won the game and every day is better, he continued. That was crazy because I missed the first three-point shot when I was wide-open, but I scored a three-point shot that was crazy. But I think that was important for me, for my confidence, so for now, everythings going to be better.

Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau continues to insist that hes less concerned about Belinellis shooting than his overall play. Still, he has to be relieved that on a team without a plethora of outside marksmen, let alone defensive magnet Derrick Rose to attract attention, that Belinelli took a step in the right direction.

I dont think hes been playing poorly. I think he hasnt shot well so far. But he will. We know that. Hes already proven that. I think hes made several big plays off the dribble for us and defensively, hes improving each day, Thibodeau explained. He still has a long way to go, but hes got to be confident in his ability to play well on the nights on which he doesnt shoot the ball well and I think he can.

Belinelli hopes Friday was just the start of bigger and better things for him, as he adjusts to the best NBA team hes played for during his career. He admitted that hed been overly preoccupied with his errant shot.

Maybe thats why, because I didnt think too much. Maybe thats one of the reasons, he said. We played well. We passed the ball amazing, we played defense and tonight we took a lot of rebounds, so tonight, especially against this team, that was really important. Now, finally were going to start the season Wednesday.

Penalty kill struggles again in Blackhawks’ loss to Blue Jackets

Penalty kill struggles again in Blackhawks’ loss to Blue Jackets

COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Blackhawks were trying a different look on Friday, going with seven defensemen. But at the end of the night, it was something all too familiar contributing to their downfall.

Tyler Motte scored the first goal of his NHL career but the Blackhawks gave up two more power-play goals in their 3-2 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday night. It was another night on which special teams doomed the Blackhawks; through the first five games of their regular season, their penalty kill has now allowed 11 goals.

And the loss could also sting them, personnel-wise. Trevor van Riemsdyk went hard into the post late in the second period and did not return. Coach Joel Quenneville said van Riemsdyk, who has had his injury issues in the past, “may be out for a bit.” Quenneville added that he’ll know more on Saturday.

Quenneville dressed seven defensemen to get everyone playing. Van Riemsdyk had been a healthy scratch the previous three games. It also gave him a chance to put Brian Campbell back on the left, his normal side. But regardless of the new defensive look, the penalty kill remained its unreliable self.

“It just seems a lot of times it’s a quick play off a faceoff and it’s in our net,” said Duncan Keith. “It’s a few different things and obviously, we as players, we need to take ownership of it and figure out a way to get the job done. You watch it, there’s lots of different things.”

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Blue Jackets forward Nick Foligno was set up right in front of Corey Crawford on both of their successful power plays. On the first, a Zach Werenski goal, Foligno set the screen. On the second, he tipped David Savard’s shot. The Blackhawks’ confidence has to be shaken, and that never helps.

“It’s the same way 5-on-5: I think when you’re snake bitten you tend to try too hard and do too much. That can end up hurting you as well,” Jonathan Toews said. “As forwards I think that’s the No. 1 thing. We have to be better getting in shot lanes. It started on the road against Nashville, they scored two goals going right past our forwards and it kind of led one game after another to today.”

Still, the Blackhawks had a great chance to find an equalizer at the end. They got a power play with 3:26 remaining. Despite some good scoring chances, and Crawford pulled for an extra attacker, the Blackhawks couldn’t capitalize. Columbus goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 32 of 34 shots in the victory.

The Blackhawks can’t stop the bleeding on the penalty kill. It’s cost them in all three of their losses and it’s made their two victories closer than necessary. They know what the problems are. They have to fix them fast.

“Both plays could have been prevented, whether it was a block, clear, just got to get sharper, more determination and try to stay out of the box,” Quenneville said. “Starts from the faceoff to a clear to shots and recognize when there’s a chance to pressure. We had a couple of opportunities there. they end up in our net right now.”

Trevor van Riemsdyk leaves game early with injury

Trevor van Riemsdyk leaves game early with injury

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Trevor van Riemsdyk finally had a healthy season in 2015-16. Now an injury could sideline him again.

Van Riemsdyk was injured late in the second period and did not return in the Blackhawks’ game against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday night. The defenseman, who was back in the lineup after being a healthy scratch the last three games, got tangled up with Blue Jackets forward Josh Anderson as Anderson drove the net. Both went into the net, but van Riemsdyk’s right arm/shoulder went directly into the post.

Coach Joel Quenneville is expected to have an update following the game.

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

Van Riemsdyk suffered a fractured ankle in his final college season. He also missed most of the 2014-15 season – his first with the Blackhawks – with a fractured kneecap and later a wrist injury. He came back to play in the Stanley Cup final.