Hamilton responds to heckler's 'old' comment with scoring barrage

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Hamilton responds to heckler's 'old' comment with scoring barrage

CLEVELAND Rip Hamilton was content to be a facilitator in Fridays night thrashing of the Cavaliers. But when the Bulls veteran shooting guard heard a heckler disparage him because of his age, he had to respond.
Early in the game, I was just trying to set the table. Luol had it going, Booz had it going and it was just one of those things where youre like, You know what? It might not be my night to go ahead and score, but just to try to get other guys involved, he recounted afterwards. In the third quarter, I just tried to be a little bit more aggressive and guys did a great job of finding me.
And some dude in the crowd called me old. Thats what woke me up, Hamilton continued, to the laughs of the assembled media. He called me Old Man River, some dude behind me. So, I was like, All right, I got something for you.
Instead of engaging with the fan, Hamilton scored 14 of his 19 points in the period, on 7-for-8 shooting from the field. It was a performance that impressed his teammates.
A blind man could have seen that Hamilton was hot. They could just keep hearing his name from the arena PA announcer, Rip Hamilton, Rip Hamilton. He got us going, Nate Robinson said. Thats what we need from each guy. We knew Rip had the hot hand, guys moving, hes still making passes. Guys making easy shots, were getting stops on the defensive end. Thats what got our offense going.
Added Carlos Boozer: Whew! He was on fire. Listen: Rip, I know hes 35 (actually, 34), everyone wants to talk about hes Old Man River and all that. Hes still one of the quickest dudes on the planet, in the league and every time he comes off screens, it doesnt matter where he is, if his feet are set, if his feet arent set, if hes moving in the air, he hits those shots. So, we just kept feeding him. Thats how we are; were going to feed the hot hand. He was on fire in the third. It was great for us, too, because we had a little bit of a lull.
As remarkable as Hamiltons scoring was, Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau was also complimentary of his unselfishness. Hamilton only had two of the Bulls 34 assists, but his passing was a major part of the teams crisp ball movement.
The one thing about Rip is Rip is going to hit the open man also. If hes open coming off the screen, hes going to shoot. But if the second defender is there, hes never going to take a tough shot like that, Thibodeau said. Hes always going to hit the open man and thats the mark of a winning player. A primary scorer has the responsibility of making the right play.

Jonathan Toews' late goal sends Blackhawks to win over Canucks

Jonathan Toews' late goal sends Blackhawks to win over Canucks

Jonathan Toews recorded a four-point night, including the game-winning goal, and Corey Crawford recorded his 200th career victory as the Blackhawks beat the Vancouver Canucks 4-2 on Sunday night.

Crawford, who had struggled in recent starts, stopped 25 of 27 shots in this one. Brian Campbell garnered his 500th career point with his primary assist on Panik's goal. Toews recorded two assists, moving ahead of Jeremy Roenick for 13th among the Blackhawks' all-time assist leaders (330).

Marian Hossa, who recorded an empty-net goal late, garnered his 400th point in a Blackhawks uniform.

The Blackhawks had one of their best first periods on Sunday night, outshooting the Canucks 18-9 and taking that 2-0 lead. Richard Panik scored his 11th goal of the season from the slot off Campbell's feed and Patrick Kane scored his 15th goal of the season.

The third wasn't nearly as good as Troy Stecher scored a power-play goal and Bo Horvat scored 46 seconds later. But Toews scored off a carom off the backboards with 1:18 remaining to regain a 3-2 lead, and Hossa’s empty-net goal sealed it.

Bad blood fueled Bears-Vikings playoff bout profiled in 'Bears Classics: Eclipsing Moon'

Bad blood fueled Bears-Vikings playoff bout profiled in 'Bears Classics: Eclipsing Moon'

From the high ground of hindsight, what unfolded in the Metrodome that day in 1995 was actually quite a big deal. But not for reasons that you could have really understood at the time watching the Bears stun the Minnesota Vikings 35-18 in the wild card round of the 1994 playoffs.

It was not so much the game alone. It was the overall context of the time for the Bears, before and after.

Though the 1995 season would get off to a 6-2 start for the Bears before their near-historic collapse, the Minnesota game would prove to be the high-water mark for the coaching tenure of Dave Wannstedt. This was the postseason, and the Bears looked to be going where then-president Mike McCaskey envisioned when he made the play to beat the New York Giants in securing Wannstedt, who was unquestionably the hot coaching prospect coming out of the Dallas Super Bowl pantheon after the 1992 season.

To fully grasp the situation, you need to understand the undercurrent of venom that had developed between the Bears and Vikings. Bears-Packers might have been the glitzy rivalry, but what had grown between the Bears and Vikings was true hostility, with little of the respect that the Bears and Packers had managed. The Vikings carried grudges for Pro Bowl slights going back almost to the Bears' Super Bowl win. One Bears defensive lineman remarked that his most hated opponent was Minnesota right tackle Tim Irwin, adding, "He's a guy that, if I ran over him with a car, I'd back up over him to make sure I got him." Dwayne Rudd's backpedaling taunt after an interception came a couple years later, but you get the idea.

What's easily forgotten looking back through the mists of time was the epic decision made by Wannstedt to make a quarterback change, from a quarterback he wanted in free agency to one he knew well from their time together at the University of Miami. That was every bit the turning point of the season and the real reason the playoff trip and win ever happened.

The Bears had been annihilated in their first game against the Vikings in the 1994 season — 42-14 — and something was really, really wrong, which become glaringly more evident just a few weeks later, even though the Bears were reaching a 4-2 mark under quarterback Erik Kramer, the centerpiece of an aggressive offseason foray into free agency. But the Bears then lost — badly — to the Lions and Packers, with Kramer throwing three interceptions against Detroit and two against Green Bay, the latter in only 10 pass attempts.

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I talked privately to Kramer after the Green Bay game, specifically about why it was that he was playing his absolute worst against Detroit, Green Bay and Minnesota, all teams with which he was intimately familiar. My thought: You know those defenses and where their people are going to be.

Kramer shook his head: "The 'other guys' I know. It's my own guys. I don't know where they're supposed to be."

It wasn't a comment on his receivers whatsoever. It was Kramer admitting bluntly that he was not getting the West Coast scheme of coordinator Ron Turner and its timing element.

Wannstedt knew it wasn't working and made the change to Steve Walsh, who'd been the Hurricanes' quarterback under Jimmy Johnson when Wannstedt was the defensive coordinator.

That was the tipping point, and Walsh and Wannstedt are among the principals of "Bears Classics: Eclipsing Moon," airing on Monday at 8 p.m. on CSN.

Anyone with any time spent in or around the NFL knows that beating a team three times in a season is incredibly difficult. The Bears had been blown out in the first Minnesota game but had pushed the Vikings to overtime in the second and would have won had Kevin Butler not missed a 40-yard field goal try.

The playoff meeting was No. 3, and after the Vikings put up a field goal in the first quarter, the Bears scored with a Lewis Tillman touchdown in the second and just pulled steadily away from the winner of the only NFL division that produced four teams with winning records.

From there it would be another decade-plus — 2006 season — before the Bears would win a playoff game.