May I...Get You Another?

May I...Get You Another?

Friday, May 7, 2010
1:28 AM

Why not? I have plenty to serve up, here behind the bar, and in the world of sports.

HAWKY TALK: Now thats more like it. After a maddeningly inconsistent second half of the season and beginning of the playoffs, the Hawks finally showed us what we were hoping for. During the season, they played what would be considered more of a finesse game. Their talent advantage over most of the league allowed them to accumulate 112 points and the 2 seed in the West. As we know, the playoffs are going to require a little more. Thats why I was surprised in the last series against Nashville that the players actually openly talked about a lack of effort after one dismal loss. What? The Cup is on the line and you cant get up for it? Anyway, the 3 wins to end the series had obviously snapped them out of their funk, right? Then there was Game 1, against the Canucks, here we go again! The response has been two straight wins, but I still feel some uneasiness at the bar. The win in Game 3 though, is what it is all about in the Stanley Cup playoffs. On the road, in a very hostile environment, they brought their A-game. Neimi was huge early with some big stops. Then they drove the net and got into Luongos face, led buy Big Buff and his three goals. They played physical, but disciplined. As much as their turn the other cheek style of play would frustrate me during the regular season, its paying dividends now, as they are playing tough enough to frustrate the Canucks, but not taking stupid penalties in the process. (That is if you discount ANOTHER too many men on the ice infraction!) Were a long way from being done, but if they continue to put up the EFFORT that they showed on Wednesday night, I really like their chances to get where we all expect them to end up.

CUBBIE BLUE: What to make of the Cubs? Are they who we thought they were? 29 games does not a season make, but with close to 20 of it gone, you would think we would have an idea of what this team is about. Every year has hot starters who fade, and slow-pokes who catch fire. Does this Cub team strike you as one that is going to contend? The holes in the bullpen are still there. Does anyone believe a rotation featuring Gorzelanny and Silva is destined for greatness? And their ability to strand runners, almost 8 a game, is second most on the league and a cause for heartburn on a daily basis.

For me, 2 obvious things have to change. One, theres no way Lee and Ramirez can continue to hit this bad can they? Ramirez especially looks like hes in a fog, does he strike out every other at bat, or is that just me? Two, does this team seem like it has any energy? Excuse me, positive energy? It looked like they were about to turn it around when they ended their last home-stand with 3 straight wins over the D-Backs. Off to Pittsburgh and more wins in front of crowds of dozens, right? Oops! How do you get swept by the Pirates? Honestly! Closing out the series with a 11-1 loss to somebody named Brian Burres? My Roto league is NL only and I have never heard of the guy!! I wont even talk about losing to Charlie Morton and his 10.30 ERA. Of course that was after the 12.57 he brought into the game, and lasted until the seventh inning!! Theres 21 more weeks to go and if the sense of urgency on the field isnt cranked up soon, the summer could be over before it even starts.

BULL SEARCH: Honestly! This search has been going on for over TWO years and we have to listen to names like Phil Jackson and John Calipari being bandied about? Jackson will NEVER coach this team. Why are people wasting their time with even thinking it could happen? Calipari? Hes a college coach. He would be great if the Bulls want to manipulate the recruiting process and want to have seasons vacated after he leaves for another job. He had a shot at the NBA 15 years ago. He lasted 2 and part of a third season before he ran back to the college ranks. Is what the Bulls need is another guy who needs to learn on the job? (The league hasnt changed much in 12 years, has it?) Then again, if he brings LeBron with him, through his friendship with James and D-Roses agent Leon Rose, why not? I could probably coach those two together. Still, I believe what they need is someone with NBA head-coaching experience. Many, many names on that carousel, I know, and it pains me to type it. But a firm knowledge of coaching at the NBA level is whats needed now. Ill throw out the names: Van Gundy, Johnson, McHale and Cheeks as those that I would like to see get a shot.

HART AND SOUL: A great moment for yours truly when I found out that HBO was doing a documentary on the favorite team of my youth, The Broad Street Bullies. I was kind of surprised, being that their run ended over 34 years ago, still they were a team that changed hockey forever. For good or bad is up to debate. Getting to watch it on Tuesday was great. It brought back a flood of memories and rekindled many of the feelings I had for that team. In fact, I was soon in a E-Bay and Amazon frenzy later that night buying any item related to them. (Cant wait to see that bill! But you cant put a price on joyous memories!) I loved that they showed the team for what they were, or at least what the perception was. They reveled in their reputation, that was the point. But to have the success that they did, consecutive Stanley Cups, you have to have more than goons. Phil Esposito said as much, but I felt that part was glossed over. They were a very physical team that realized that physicality gave them an edge over any team that they played. In the end though, you still have to put the puck in to the net more than the other team, either by scoring a lot, which they did, or having Bernie Parent stand on his head for two years, which he did!

As much as it brought back a bunch of feelings, it also left me confused that HBO, who does an excellent job with just about every other documentary Ive ever watched, (The Bird-Magic one was awesome!) would miss a big reason for why that team was as loved in Philly as it was, and that was Hockey Hall of Famer, announcer Gene Hart. Hart was the voice of the team from their inception, staying 29 years until the end of the 1994-1995 season. For a city new to the sport, he was our fountain of information. As is any home-team announcer, he was our connection to the team. He lived and died with us. All while maintaining a level of excellence and professionalism that few I have listened to have ever matched. He loved two things: Hockey, and anyone who loved hockey. I can not fathom anyone telling the story of those Cup winning teams without also telling his. He was as much as part of what the Flyers did, and mean, as owner Ed Snider, coach Fred Shero and the stars and team leaders, Bobby Clarke and Bernie Parent.

What that team had was a passion to win and it did whatever it took to do so. The city of Philadelphia had a passion for that team that bordered on psychotic.

And the man that brought that team into our homes, on TV and radio, was a man that shared that passion with us. To us, he was hockey. Im stunned that HBO did not pick up on that connection.

Oh, and the items I purchased the other night? Of course the first thing was SCORE! My Twenty-five Years with the Broad Street Bullies, by Gene Hart. Even though hes no longer with us I cant wait to hear his voice again.

In honor of Gene, Ill leave you with his signoff, the last words he spoke on all of his broadcasts, you might like it: Good night and good hockey!

Morning Update: Dwyane Wade comes up clutch in close win vs. Kings

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AP

Morning Update: Dwyane Wade comes up clutch in close win vs. Kings

Dwyane Wade gets a little help but saves the day defensively vs. Kings

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Dwyane Wade gets a little help but saves the day defensively vs. Kings

Dwyane Wade gets a little help but saves the day defensively vs. Kings

It was a gift and the Bulls weren't going to look it in the mouth as Dwyane Wade was poised to finish off another one of his sterling defensive plays with a breakaway dunk with the game tied and Arron Afflalo and DeMarcus Cousins trailing.

Lightly touched by the small of his back by Cousins, Wade miscalculated his liftoff and missed the dunk but was bailed out by the refs for a foul with 14 seconds left.

Then, he bailed the Bulls out.

Wade had his fifth fourth-quarter defensive play, stripping Cousins on a steal on the ensuing possession with the Sacramento Kings having a chance to win, leading to a Michael Carter-Williams dunk and finishing a 102-99 win Saturday night at the United Center.

It was a clock-turning performance for Wade on both ends of the floor, even if his missed dunk is a reminder that he is 35 years old. 

"I took off too far as I look at the instant replay," Wade said. "I should've took maybe one more dribble. Can't say I felt 35, I just took off too far (laughs). But hey, sometimes you get calls, sometimes you don't. I'm a person who hasn't gotten a lot all year so I'm not gonna apologize for nothing."

Stripping Cousins on his spin move was the finale, but he swatted an Arron Afflalo corner triple in the fourth, smothered Ty Lawson at the rim twice for blocked shots to end the third and tortured Lawson again in the fourth for another steal that led to him following up a Jimmy Butler missed layup with a follow and foul.

"Just a read," said Wade on stripping Cousins. "We knew he was gonna go to DeMarcus at that point. Once we forced him left, I knew he had to come back to the right hand. And being in the right place at the right time, the ball was right there for me."

Wade played like a desperate and motivated man, putting up 30 with six rebounds and four assists on the second night of a back-to-back is proof positive he took Friday's loss to Atlanta personally and used his play to back up those feelings.

He took to twitter to apologize for the poor effort against the Hawks, producing his best all-around performance as a Bull.

"We've been good in desperate moments," Wade said. "We haven't been good in non-desperate moments, when we win three in a row or playing a team that we should beat. But (in) the desperate moments I like us."

He scored 13 in the fourth, along with the last of his four blocked shots and all three of his steals took place in the final 12.

"I thought he was terrific," Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. "He was aggressive all game long, taking the ball to the basket, getting to the line 15 times. He came up with two big plays."

Hoiberg threw out different lineups and rotations, playing Paul Zipser as a sixth man and having the second-round draft pick close the game. Zipser took advantage, hitting three triples and scoring 13 points.

"I thought it was night and day from last night," Hoiberg said. "Our energy was really good all night long. We got just enough stops to find a way to win."

Cousins dominated the game with 42 and 14 rebounds in 35 minutes, the only Kings player in double figures all night.

"He was pretty much unguardable for the majority of the game, Taj did a solid job on him," Hoiberg said. "When Robin was on him, they put him on the perimeter and let him shoot threes. He's a monster."

Back-to-back triples from Cousins gave him 40 and tied the game at 97, as a third one rimmed out with a little under two minutes left.

Cousins dominated the start of the third quarter, hitting midrange jumpers over Lopez and taunting the Bulls bench after hitting a jumper to put the Kings ahead, 70-63 midway through the third.

But the Bulls stayed close, with Hoiberg choosing to sit Rajon Rondo for the second half after playing him six minutes in the second quarter, using Wade as a point guard and going with Carter-Williams for defense, along with Zipser, who didn't look scared of the moment.

"I like the wrinkle coach put in there, putting him in early," Wade said. "He gave him an opportunity and he helped us big time."

Butler scored 23 with seven assists and five rebounds in 39 minutes, didn't have to play the hero for once and made fun of Wade's apology tweet.

"He was due for a big night," Butler said. "He can tweet again if he can come out again and give us 30 and some big steals and big dunks."

"I think that's what called of him, to score baskets and guard. It's kinda sneaky. You never really expect it until it happens."

It looked like the worst was over when the Bulls made a short run to end the third, surviving the onslaught from Cousins — and surviving their own experimenting with Zipser instead of going with Denzel Valentine, switching things up altogether.

But the tone was set by the leaders, who can only manufacture but so much urgency on a nightly basis.

"I like this team when we're desperate," Wade said. "A desperate team, we're not bad."