Bulls' collective effort has star potential

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Bulls' collective effort has star potential

CLEVELANDIt appears that this will be a theme this season. The Bulls, without injured superstar Derrick Rose, will be an unselfish squad, score by committee, play determined defense on a nightly basis and try to get out in transition.
Of course, the caliber of opponent will varynot every team will struggle as much as the hapless, inexperienced Cavaliersand they wont record 34 assists on nearly 64-percent shooting every night, but the aforementioned principles will remain constants.
It also helps to have some extra motivation.
I thought the readiness to play was really good, I thought the defense was very good to start the game and then, we ran the floor well and we played inside-out, and we shared the ball, Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau explained. When you look at intensity, you have to understand where it comes from. It comes from your concentration, being prepared and your effort. When you put those three things together, youll be intense. It doesnt come from emotion. You have to understand where it does come from, so if we put the work in and we do the right things, and were ready to go, well be intense.
It was a balanced attack. The ball was moving and when a guy got going, they searched him out a little bit. We got our cutting game going, got to the free-throw line. Theres still things we can do better, he continued. The balls hopping, making quick decisions. That part is really good.
What Thibodeau neglected to mention was the fact that the Bulls wanted to avenge one of their two preseason lossesthey already repaid Minnesota upon the Timberwolves return exhibition trip to Chicagoa disappointing defeat in Champaign, Ill., on the campus of the University of Illinois.
We watched our last game that we played against them. They kind of blitzed us and they got after it. At the end, we came back. We ended up losing by two or three in the preseason. We remembered that, Nate Robinson revealed. We were like, Were going to come here, were going to play hard, were going to get after it from jump ball to the end, and we did that.
Getting revenge wasnt the only objective on the evening for the Bulls, however. It appeared that they were trying to challenge themselves to execute expertly or, as Thibodeau likes to say, strive for perfection.
Coach does a good job of every day, repetition, going over the plays, getting guys in spots where they can be successful, Robinson, a catalyst on the night, said. Thats what basketballs about, playing team ball and everybody getting a piece of the pie.Thats me. Just bring the energy. Everything else will take care of itself, he added. I made a couple shots, but just trying to make the right play. Not trying to make the home-run play. Just getting guys involved, attacking, keep driving and kicking, and finding guys. Im just having fun.
Whether it was Robinsons energy, Rip Hamiltons marksmanship, the versatility displayed by forwards Luol Deng and Carlos Boozer or the collective selflessness in both transition and against Clevelands set defense, the Bulls looked like a juggernaut Friday.
It was awesome. It felt good. I think everybody felt good. I think the good thing about it was everybody was catching the ball in their sweet spot and just trying to make the easy play, Hamilton explained. Its hard to guard. When youve got guys at every position that can score and play, and make the right play, it puts pressure on the defense at all times. The floor always stays spaced, guys are scared to help.
Added Boozer: We came out of the gate with intensity defensively. I thought we did a great job of trying to stop them from scoring to start the game and to be honest, that just kind of set the tone for the rest of the game for us. Offensively, you know unselfish we are. We pass, we cut, we screen, take open shots. We do a good job of moving the ball, but I think the key to the game was how we came out defensively.
"You've got to measure yourself if it's good enough to win against the great teams. Not taking anything away from Cleveland, but our goals are much higher than beating Cleveland. Our goal is to try to win a championship and for us to do that, we have to measure how we're playing and if it's championship-worthy. Thibs talks to us about that all the time and amongst ourselves in the locker room, we talk about that, too."
No, it's not flashy and yes, Friday's blowout wasn't against the cream of the crop. But it's effective and on the nights when the Bulls are clicking--even without the gaudy shooting statistics, but still executing at a high level--on any given night, that type of solid play is capable of beating anybody.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Bulls welcome Cavaliers to town

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SportsTalk Live Podcast: Bulls welcome Cavaliers to town

In the latest installment of the SportsTalk Live Podcast, the panel previews the Bulls' matchup against the Cavaliers. 

Luke Stuckmeyer is joined by Mark Carman (WGN Radio), David Schuster (670 The Score) and Kendall Gill to break down the keys to a Bulls win. Later, Vincent Goodwill (CSNChicago.com) joins Luke to discuss the team's progress. 

Finally, LeBron James pays off his World Series bet and the entire media world is there to see it. 

Check out the SportsTalk Live Podcast below: 

White Sox agree to one-year deals with Brett Lawrie, Avisail Garcia

White Sox agree to one-year deals with Brett Lawrie, Avisail Garcia

Brett Lawrie and Avisail Garcia will both return to the White Sox in 2017.

The team announced it reached deals with both players shortly before Friday’s 7 p.m. CST nontender deadline. Lawrie will earn $3.5 million next season and Garcia received a one-year deal for $3 million.

The club didn’t tender a contract to right-handed pitcher Blake Smith, which leaves its 40-man roster at 38.

Acquired last December for a pair of minor leaguers, Lawrie hit .248/.310/.413 with 12 home runs, 22 doubles and 36 RBIs in 94 games before he suffered a season-ending injury.

Lawrie produced 0.9 f-WAR when he suffered what then-manager Robin Ventura described a “tricky” injury on July 21. Despite numerous tests and a lengthy rehab, Lawrie never returned to the field and was frustrated by the experience. Last month, Lawrie tweeted that he believes the cause of his injury was wearing orthotics for the first time in his career.

He was projected to earn $5.1 million, according to MLBTraderumors.com and earned $4.125 million in 2016.

Garcia hit .245/.307/.385 with 12 homers and 51 RBIs in 453 plate appearances over 120 games. The projected salary for Garcia, arb-eligible for the first time, was $3.4 million.

The team also offered contracts to Miguel Gonzalez and Todd Frazier, who are eligible for free agency in 2018, first baseman Jose Abreu and relievers Dan Jennings, Zach Putnam and Jake Petricka, among others.

The White Sox have until mid-January to reach an agreement with their arbitration-eligible players. If they haven’t, both sides submit figures for arbitration cases, which are then heard throughout February.