Curie gets best of rival Bogan

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Curie gets best of rival Bogan

By Clyde Travis
YourSeason.com

The Bogan-Curie matchup was a game that rivalries are made of. Both teams are on Pulaski Avenue, with two all-city players each, and who suffered a loss to top-ranked Simeon. As expected, it was a battle to the finish with Curie outlasting Bogan 50-47 in the semifinals of the Public League Playoffs Wednesday at DePaul University.

The Condors scored the first points and never relinquished the lead in the defensive battle. A free throw by Jabreel Jackson proved to be the magic number as Jackson shot the back end of a two-shot foul to give the Condors a 48-45 lead with 1:36 remaining in the fourth quarter. The lead was cut to 49-47 with 33 seconds remaining but another made free throw by Malcolm Hill-Bey made it 50-47 with 12.1 seconds.

Bogan set up a play and appeared to have an open three-pointer to tie the score but 6-9 Cliff Alexander came off his man and blocked the shot. Alexander said he felt that they were going to go for the three-point play instead of the two so he left his man. It was just a feeling and I took a gamble and it worked out for us, said Alexander.Curie coach Mike Oliver said it was team defense that got the victory. No matter whether our offense is clicking or not, we are always going to play tough defense. Thats what we hang our hat on, said Oliver. Bogan is a tough tenacious team and we knew we had to be up for a physical game.Devin Foster led Curie with 13 points and eight rebounds. Alexander had nine points and 16 rebounds and five blocks. But the X-factor in the game was Curies two-sport star Maurice Fleming. After missing the entire football season, Fleming, a starter last year, saw his first action of the season and contributed with three crucial three pointers and some tough man to man defense. It felt good to be playing and even better to contribute, said Fleming. Bogan is a very physical team and I was glad I was out there. Bogan coach Arthur Goodwin said his team has nothing to hang their heads about. We played a horrible first half, but as a coach I know my kids gave me everything that they had, said Goodwin. Devonte Smith led the Bengals with 19 points. Ronnell Buckner scored 10.

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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