Bloom wins McDipper Tournament title

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Bloom wins McDipper Tournament title

By Dan Ruane
YourSeason.com

Bloom knew exactly what it had to do to win the championship game of the McDipper tournament. The Blazing Trojans took the air out of the ball and came away with a 52-45 victory over Crete-Monee to win the 39th Tournament at Rich South high school.It was Blooms first title at this tournament since the Blazing Trojans downed Crete-Monee in 1995.This is the most versatile team that I have ever coached, Bloom coach Jasper Williams said. We wanted to get Crete into a half-court game because we did not want to go ninety-four feet up and down the floor with them.The key to the tempo was Bloom point guard Donald Moore, who was named the tournaments most valuable player. Moore was controlling the ball while working the 35 second shot clock down to single digits in most cases before either shooting or creating for his teammates. Moore finished with 14 points.The plan worked well for the most part as Bloom (13-0) held the lead for the entire game and edged out to a 40-24 lead just past the midway point of the third quarter. Moore keyed a big run in the third quarter by scoring eight points and assisting on Lejavious Johnsons three pointer for an 11-2 run to start the third that all but buried Crete.They beat us three times last year including in the playoffs, Moore said. It felt good to beat them finally, especially in the Dipper championship game.Donald is the leader of our team, Williams said. We want the ball in his hands at the end of games. He is one of the best point guards in the city.Crete (10-3) whittled away at the lead to cut the score to 50-45 with just over a minute left to play. LaQuon Treadwell willed the Warriors back into the game with 10 second half points including a base-line jam that had the standing-room only crowd out of its seats. Treadwell finished with 14 points and seven rebounds.We all love being around each other. We are like brothers, Johnson said. Teams think that they just have to stop me and Donald but we are way more than that. Every guy on this team can step up and play.

Doug McDermott's return boosts Bulls' bench

Doug McDermott's return boosts Bulls' bench

Doug McDermott wasn’t exactly hunting for his first shot, but the first time he touched the ball in an NBA game in nearly a month wasn’t the optimal situation for him to let one fly.

It wasn’t in transition where he runs to an opening behind the 3-point line, nor was it a drive-and-kick situation where the help defense collapsed and left him open. It was a regular, simple, pass to the perimeter and McDermott’s defender was in reasonable proximity with 3:23 left in the first quarter.

He launched and the crowd soon roared its approval as his sweet jumper was sorely missed by the Bulls bench brigade—and moments later when he ran the floor for a fearless layup that caused Spurs coach Gregg Popovich to call a timeout, McDermott showed he missed the United Center crowd too, calling for more noise on his way to the bench.

“Anytime you have a guy like Doug, he comes back and makes his first 3, that’s hard to do,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. “He stepped up with confidence on that first shot. I’m sure he had a lot of nerves getting back out there.”

Missing 12 games and suffering two concussions, McDermott looked right at home in 25 minutes of run Thursday as the Bulls were able to rely on their reserves in some form in their 95-91 win over the previously perfect road warriors known as the Spurs.

“We defended and kept them off the foul line,” McDermott said. “Coach (Jim) Boylen was with them, so we feel we know them and I think all this time they were missing my defense.”

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The last statement was certainly tongue-in-cheek, but the Bulls’ bench production was certainly missing in action while he was out with the concussion protocol. So much so that his return prompted the Bulls’ coaching staff to call out the reserves in the morning shootaround, demanding more.

“It’s definitely Dwyane (Wade) and Jimmy (Butler) and (Rajon) Rondo (but) the coaching staff kinda called out our bench like, we gotta have you tonight, bench,” McDermott said. “We took that to heart, we were really locked in.”

Seemingly his presence aided the Bulls’ spirits and production, as the Bulls’ bench had the least effective scoring bench in the NBA since Nov. 13, the day after McDermott hit the unforgiving floor against the Wizards for his second concussion this season.

Their net rating ranks ahead of only the Wizards, Mavericks and Nets, who are a combined 17-45 this season. Their effective field goal percentage, which takes into account 3-pointers, is worst in the league in that span (42.3 percent).

When McDermott was healthy for that smaller sample size, the Bulls’ bench ranked fifth in offensive efficiency, seventh in net rating, and fifth in efficient field goal percentage. Whether McDermott – and his absence – was directly related to those numbers, it’s clear the Bulls are better when they have their best reserve – and only true floor spacers on the second unit – on the court.

“We’re all professionals and we want to help the guys who are busting their butts in the first unit to get us the leads,” McDermott said. “Tonight we did a great job of sustaining it. We take it personal when teams come back on us.”

[MORE: Pau Gasol relishes consistency with Spurs he couldn't find with Bulls]

Nikola Mirotic was four of eight from the field, and Cristiano Felicio seems to be back in Fred Hoiberg’s good graces as he’s carved out a rotation spot for himself with nine points and seven rebounds in 18 minutes.

It seems as if Hoiberg will stick with this rotation of players, at least for a little while until Michael Carter-Williams returns from his injuries. If McDermott is the mark of the Bulls’ bench going from bottom feeder to adequate, it should show this month.

“When he’s out there on the floor and we get him coming off screens, it forces the defense to shift as another person they need to be aware of,” Hoiberg said. “It opens up driving lanes for our guys. It was great to have Doug back with us.”

Morning Update: Bulls beat Spurs in Pau Gasol's return to Chicago

Morning Update: Bulls beat Spurs in Pau Gasol's return to Chicago

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