It's official: Rams taking offers for 2nd overall pick

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It's official: Rams taking offers for 2nd overall pick

From Comcast SportsNet
The St. Louis Rams are willing to trade the second overall pick of the April draft. Chief operating officer Kevin Demoff said Tuesday that the team would make a deal under the right circumstances, but has not made any commitments despite a report late Monday that a trade had already been decided. He said new coach Jeff Fisher and general manager Les Snead went to the NFL combine with an open mind. "I think coach Fisher and Les have been upfront that we will listen to offers for the 2nd pick," Demoff said in an email to The Associated Press. "I didn't see anything in the report that differed from their statements." Quarterbacks Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III are expected to go 1-2 in the draft, with Indianapolis holding the top pick. The Rams need plenty of help but are set at quarterback with Sam Bradford, the first overall pick in 2010. Among a group of perhaps 50 or 60 players that the Rams are believed to have interviewed at the combine are Southern California offensive tackle Matt Kalil and Oklahoma wide receiver Justin Blackmon, a pair who would fill obvious holes. While the Colts are widely expected to take Luck as the eventual heir to Peyton Manning, it is Griffin who has sparked the speculation. Last year's Heisman Trophy winner from Baylor is seen as a good fit with a number of teams, increasing the likelihood of the Rams dealing the second pick in a bid to stock up. But the draft is still two months away and free agency has not begun. Fisher, hired in January, has consistently maintained he has a high regard for Bradford and believes he can become a star. Fisher dismissed last season's performance to a large extent because of injuries to Bradford and his offensive line, plus a time shortage getting accustomed to offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels' system because of the lockout. Bradford missed six games with a high left ankle sprain playing behind an injury riddled line. Tackles Rodger Saffold and Jason Smith, and guard Jacob Bell ended the season on injured reserve. The defense also needs help after threatening the franchise record for yards allowed. Fisher and Snead were hired after the Rams' 2-14 season tied for the NFL's worst. They were just 10-38 in three seasons under coach Steve Spagnuolo, who was fired along with general manager Billy Devaney. McDaniels is also gone.

Vinnie Hinostroza, rookies pace Blackhawks past Avalanche

Vinnie Hinostroza, rookies pace Blackhawks past Avalanche

DENVER – When you were younger, you always wanted to play your best in front of your parents. Whether that was their motivation or not, the Blackhawks’ rookies did that on Tuesday night.

The Blackhawks rookies accounted for five goals, including Vinnie Hinostroza’s game-tying and game-winning goals in the third period, as the Blackhawks came back to beat the Colorado Avalanche 6-4 on Tuesday night. The Blackhawks, playing the first game on their dads trip, remain in second place in the West. They’re tied in points with the Minnesota Wild but the Wild still have four games in hand.

Tanner Kero had two goals and an assist and Nick Schmaltz, playing in his second game since being recalled from Rockford, had a goal and an assist. Brent Seabrook also scored and Marian Hossa recorded his 600th, 601st and 602nd career assists.

The Blackhawks made line changes to try and spark their offense, especially their top line. But as coach Joel Quenneville always says he’ll take the goals from anyone. On Tuesday, those goals came from the rookies playing on the Blackhawks’ third and fourth lines.

“Good response,” Quenneville said. “We were looking for some scoring from other guys, talking about secondary scoring, and tonight they produced all the goals. Fun night for them and a great third period and comeback for us.”

The Blackhawks needed every bit of that third period, considering their second period was so awful. From bad clearing attempts to pucks not put deep enough in the Avalanche zone, the Blackhawks made mistakes and the Avs capitalized. Colorado scored three goals in the second period, including two in 63 seconds, to take a 4-3 lead after two.

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Then came the third period and Hinostroza. His speed is his best asset, and that speed was evident when he chased down a loose puck, got himself a breakaway and scored the tying goal 5:10 into the third period.

“Yeah I thought I would [catch it],” Hinostroza said of that loose puck. “I just saw it flying through the air and thought, ‘this could be a breakaway,’ so I just started trying to skate fast.”

Hinostroza scored what would be the winning goal 3:01 later. Kero added the empty-net goal with 10.6 seconds remaining in the game. Kero’s second goal came off a feed from Jonathan Toews who, despite his goal-scoring struggles this season, passed this chance to the rookie.

“It was a great play, a smart play,” Quenneville said of Toews. “We all know how unselfish he is and he made the right play. He’ll take a point.”

Schmaltz looked great to start this game, scoring his second goal of the season to give the Blackhawks a 1-0 lead. Schmaltz was tentative in his first time up with the Blackhawks, but he didn’t look it in this one.

“I think it’s just trying to get better every game, trying to be responsible defensively and then show off our skill in the offensive zone and play the style of puck-possession game and making plays and getting pucks and bodies to the net,” Schmaltz said of the rookies. “I thought we did a pretty good job tonight.”

The Blackhawks were looking for more scoring with their line changes. They got it from the area they probably weren’t expecting but again, it doesn’t matter who does it.

“For the young guys to chip in, it’s nice,” Hinostroza said. “Hopefully we can keep going forward."

Bulls can't answer Wesley Matthews' game-winner in loss to Mavericks

Bulls can't answer Wesley Matthews' game-winner in loss to Mavericks

It was believed the Bulls needed no extra motivation going against a Dallas Mavericks team that's a half-game away from being worst in the Western Conference.

The Mavericks gave them a 25-point shellacking in Texas last month, giving the Bulls enough film to make a horror show. Usually these instances even out over 82 games.

But this is no ordinary season for the Bulls, and the Mavericks again emerged victorious when Wesley Matthews got free for a triple on one end and locked up his college teammate Jimmy Butler on the other end, leading to a 99-98 Mavericks win.

It looked like another Butler special when Butler nailed a step-up, contested jumper over Matthews to give the Bulls a 98-96 lead, completing his 24-point night.

But Matthews was undeterred, breaking free on the wing for a triple when Dwyane Wade had to help Nikola Mirotic on a Deron Williams drive with 11.7 seconds left.

And on the final possession, the Bulls' spacing looked gummed up when Butler couldn’t shake free of Matthews, forcing him to pitch it to Wade, who put up a heavily contested 21-foot jumper from the baseline

It caromed off the rim, and the Mavericks danced happily off the floor for their first three-game winning streak of the year, this win completing a season sweep of the Bulls.

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Butler scored 24 with 12 assists and nine rebounds but was 5-for-12 from the field as Matthews was in his chest all night. Wade had a strong fourth quarter on his 35th birthday but missed 13 of his 21 shots to score 17.

Six Mavericks scored in double figures, led by Harrison Barnes' 20 and Seth Curry's 18 as the Mavericks made 11 triples and had 27 assists, frustrating the Bulls.

With scoring at a premium, Robin Lopez had a season-high 20 points being guarded by Dirk Nowitzki — and they were necessary considering the Bulls were without Taj Gibson (ankle injury) and Doug McDermott couldn't repeat his 30-point showing from Sunday in Memphis.

Rick Carlisle has long been regarded as one of the top strategic coaches, and though he doesn’t have the usual personnel from the Mavericks' salad days, he had enough tricks up his sleeve to throw the Bulls off.

The Mavericks started Nowitzki at center, going to an almost all-small lineup. And though Lopez scored 14 in the first half, trying to feed him seemed to take the Bulls out of it in the second half.

The Mavericks played tougher and smarter with their personnel, and the Bulls got to see what happens when Wade or Butler can't save the day.