Noah, Bulls tangle with Cavaliers on CSN

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Noah, Bulls tangle with Cavaliers on CSN

Center Joakim Noah took the role of an extended offensive role in the Bulls season opener, scoring a game-high 23 points in Chicagos 93-87 win over Sacramento Wednesday at the United Center. Hell face a stiff test tonight when the Bulls travel to Cleveland to take on Kyrie Iriving, Anderson Varejao and the Cavaliers on Comcast SportsNet. Coverage begins at 6 p.m. with Bulls Pregame Live.

Varejao, who missed the Cavaliers final 41 games last season with a broken wrist, showed no ill-effects in the home opener against the Wizards, scoring nine points, grabbing 23 rebounds and handing out nine assists in a 94-84 win. Varejao also blocked two shots in 37 minutes, which should make for an enticing matchup with Noah.

The Bulls center was aggressive on Wednesday against the Kings frontcourt duo of DeMarcus Cousins and Jason Thompson. Along with his 6-of-12 shooting, Noah also made 11-of-12 free throws, while Cousins played just 25 minutes with four fouls. Varejao also picked up four fouls in Wednesday nights matchup with Washington, and his aggressive defensive play could play right into the hands of Noah and Carlos Boozer, who got to the line five times himself.

Defensively, the Bulls held the Kings to 40.5 percent shooting on Wednesday. Specifically, point guards Isaiah Thomas and Aaron Brooks were a combined 6-of-18 from the field as Kirk Hinrich and Nate Robinson were impressive in Game 1 of the Derrick Rose-less era. But theyll get their first true test tonight against Kyrie Irving, the 2011 No. 1 overall pick who scored 29 points on Opening Night.

Irving missed two of the three matchups against the Bulls his rookie season, but hes one of the up-and-coming bright stars in the NBA who showed no ill effects of having four teeth pulled earlier this week. Irving was the one of two Cavaliers to score more than 12 points on Wednesday, so the defensive plan is simple: shut down Irving, shut down the Cavs. The two veteran point guards in the Bulls backcourt should do the job.

The other key matchups also will be veterans against youngsters, as Boozer matches up against Tristan Thompson, last years No. 4 overall pick. Boozers jump shot was working Wednesday, as he made 5-of-8 shots from the outside that freed up the paint later in the game, where he made his other three field goals. Tonight will also mark Taj Gibson's first game since agreeing to a four-year, 38 million contract extension with the Bulls. It's a sure bet the sixth man will want to assert himself two days after shoring up his future in Chicago.

13-year veteran Richard Hamilton, who scored 19 points in the opener, will match up on rookie Dion Waiters, who added 17 of his own against the Wizards. Hamilton showed spark on the offensive end, but had trouble against Tyreke Evans drives (8-13 FG, 4-4 FT). Like Evans, Waiters wants to get to the basket early and often. Stout defense inside may be the key if Hamilton has problems keeping up.

The veteran-youth disparity between these two teams should play into the Bulls hands. The youthful Cavaliers turned the ball over 20 times in their Wednesday win, while Chicago forced Sacramento into 19 miscues themselves.

Expect a defensive battle tonight against two Central division foes. The Bulls travel on the road for the first time in 2012, but enter Cleveland riding a six-game winning streak. Luol Deng (3-13 FG against Sacramento) should find his touch while stiff defense against a Cavalier team shallow on the bench could cause problems for the young Cavaliers.

New Fire acquisition Dax McCarty tweets thank you to Red Bull fans

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USA TODAY

New Fire acquisition Dax McCarty tweets thank you to Red Bull fans

When the Chicago Fire traded for midfielder Dax McCarty it surprised many around Major League Soccer.

McCarty had been with the New York Red Bulls for five and a half seasons and served as the team's captain in recent years. He was a central figure in the club's identity and success (2013 and 2015 Supporters' Shield winners). His departure was devastating to many fans and came at a busy time in McCarty's life.

He got married two days before the trade and had just arrived with the U.S. national team for the annual January camp that takes place during the MLS offseason and largely features domestically based players.

On Sunday McCarty took to Twitter to thank Red Bulls fans in a lengthy note.

McCarty says he was blindsided by the trade.

"I have been in the league long enough to know how things work, yet somehow I was still surprised," McCarty said in the note. "I've been sitting here for a week trying to process everything, and I still can't quite come up with the words to describe how I'm feeling."

McCarty then thanked his teammates, the support staff with the Red Bulls, Red Bulls fans and his wife.

"To the fans: Thank you for giving me 5 1/2 of the best years of my life," he wrote.

The note is similar to what Harry Shipp tweeted after the Fire traded the Lake Forest native to the Montreal Impact. Shipp was again traded this offseason, to reigning MLS Cup champion Seattle.

One difference between the two is that Shipp mentioned being excited to join Montreal. McCarty made no mention of Chicago or the Fire.

"It will be weird stepping onto the field at Red Bull Arena as an opponent, but I'll always cherish the memories we made together, as a family," McCarty wrote. "If you could do me one huge favor and not chant "metro reject" when I come back, I would greatly appreciate it."

Metro reject is an old chant for former players in reference the club's previous name, New York/New Jersey Metrostars. The Fire visit Red Bull Arena on April 29.

The Fire open preseason training on Monday, although McCarty won't be there because he is still in camp with the national team.

Prairie Ridge OL Jeff Jenkins commits to Iowa

Prairie Ridge OL Jeff Jenkins commits to Iowa

Prairie Ridge junior offensive linemen recruit Jeff Jenkins (6-foot-4, 260 pounds) made an unofficial Sunday Junior Day visit to the University of Iowa and came away verbally committed to the Hawkeyes.

"I didn't want to wait," Jenkins said. "I knew I wanted to be a Hawkeye when I met the coaches at Iowa and got on campus."

Jenkins, an All-State linemen for the 2016 Class 6A state champion Wolves, received a scholarship offer from Iowa back on Jan. 13. He pointed towards the Hawkeyes history of developing NFL caliber offensive linemen as one of several keys in his early decision.

"Iowa has a great tradition of offensive linemen," Jenkins said. "I was also just really impressed with the coaches at Iowa along with the facilities and everything that they have to offer. I just knew that I couldn't pass up the opportunity at Iowa. I knew it was home."