The Starting Five: Bulls vs. Timberwolves

The Starting Five: Bulls vs. Timberwolves

Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Posted: 12:51 p.m.
By Aggrey Sam
CSNChicago.com

1. Coming off the disappointing home loss to Philadelphia, Thibodeau talked about the need for the Bulls to start games with more energy and get back to their usual defensive mentality, something they had gotten away from even in the two wins before the 76ers came to town. Just the readiness to start. We had gone through a long stretch of playing pretty well and then we had the two blowout wins and I think our edge wasnt the same coming out. it starts with our defense. When our defense isnt up to parwe thought were going to come in and were going to outscore peoplethats not good for us, said Thibodeau. We have to tighten things up defensively. When we defend and we rebound, we usually play well. So, that was the biggest concernallowing teams to get going and once they get going, theyre much harder to slow downso weve got to try to make it harder on teams to start the game.

2. Thibodeau didnt take the bait when asked about the Heats shocking loss to the Cavaliersin LeBron James second trip back to ClevelandTuesday night, which helped the Bulls increase their first-place Eastern Conference lead and put Miami a half-game behind Boston. Everybody has their own things that they have to worry about and I think its another example that any team is capable of beating you, and so, for us, our readiness to play is critical and we have to correct it, said Thibodeau. But you see it all the time. You see it in every sport and you have to be ready to play.

3. Thibodeau also discussed the fantastic season Timberwolves All-Star power forward Kevin Lovethe third-year player is questionable for Wednesdays gameis having, which has already included a 30-point, 30-rebound game and a historic 53-game double-double streak. The year that hes had has been unbelievable. You average 20 points and 15 rebounds in this league, that says a lot. It also says a lot about him, how hes improved from year to year, to where he is now. Hes a guy that plays hard all the time, you can see that he continues to improve as he goes forward, explained Thibodeau. I had an opportunity to watch Love and his own star, Derrick Rose with Team USA and I think those guys benefited a lot from that experience. The way they practiced and the way they performed as a team, I thought, really helped all of those guys. It was an extremely well-coached team, they had great veteran leadership in Billups and I think all those guys benefited from that. And of course, the team success. It gave them a head start on the season. They came into training camp in great shape, great rhythm and it was all good for them.

4. Rose, who was in the same highly-touted high school class as Love, talked about his friendship with the Timberwolves star and his impressions of his development. To play in this league, youve got to have confidence and his confidence is very high right now. Every night, hes doing a great job being consistent, rebounding, shooting the ball better from the three, just being a leader. You can just see when hes on the court, theres a big difference, observed Rose. Rose and Love have been friends ever since high school, I always played against him: AAU, college. Being out in L.A., just always with us working out in Los Angeles with trainer Rob McClanaghan, eating brunch with him, dinner with him, Team USA. Im always around him. Im real good friends with his dad former NBA player Stan Love, too. Continued Rose: The way he works, man. You should see how hard he goes. Like when we work out, we dont do any big-man drills. We do all guard stuff with me and Russ Oklahoma City Thunder All-Star point guard Russell Westbrook, Loves college teammate at UCLA. You probably dont think about that, but its amazing how hard he works.

5. Dont forget to follow me on Twitter at @CSNBullsInsider.

Aggrey Sam is CSNChicago.com's Bulls Insider. Follow him @CSNBullsInsider on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bulls information and his take on the team, the NBA and much more.

Blackhawks assistant Kevin Dineen appreciates interview opportunities

Blackhawks assistant Kevin Dineen appreciates interview opportunities

Kevin Dineen is back with the Blackhawks but there were times this summer you wondered if another team would take him away.

The Blackhawks’ assistant coach was a major candidate for the Colorado Avalanche head coaching job, according to the Denver Post, following Patrick Roy’s surprising departure. There were probably other inquiries, too.

“It’s always nice to go through a process of talking about the way you do your business. It’s also a reflection of where you are,” said Dineen following the Blackhawks’ White-Red scrimmage on Saturday. “No. 1, you have to get permission to do that, and the Blackhawks have been great about giving me the opportunity to go out and do that. But also, when you have success, a lot of people want to get your feedback or whatever it is.”

Dineen’s name will likely come up whenever there’s a coaching vacancy. He coached the Florida Panthers from 2011-13 and coached Team Canada women’s team to a gold medal at the 2014 Winter Olympics. Dineen will get another opportunity in the NHL but for now, life is good in Chicago.

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“For me, I couldn’t be happier right here,” he said. “I have a great person and hockey mind to work with in Joel [Quenneville]. But you know, down the line, those things play their way out and we’ll see where it goes.”

Arriving soon

Patrick Kane, Ville Pokka and Michal Kempny will join the Blackhawks’ training camp on Tuesday. The three finished up round-robin World Cup of Hockey play with their respective teams on Thursday.

Dineen said there’s a chance one of the defensemen, Pokka or Kempny, play in Wednesday night’s preseason game against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

“They’ll get into the swing of things here on Tuesday,” Dineen said. “So that’ll give them a good rest after a long, tough September, and we expect them to hit the ice flying.”

Briefly

  • Duncan Keith will skate during one of the Blackhawks’ practices on Sunday and Monday.
     
  • Team White defeated Team Red 4-3 in Saturday’s scrimmage at the United Center. Spencer Abbott led Team White with two goals.

After locking up homefield advantage, Cubs flummoxed by Cardinals in blowout loss

After locking up homefield advantage, Cubs flummoxed by Cardinals in blowout loss

At the end of the day, a loss means essentially nothing for the Cubs right now.

But the Cubs also certainly don't want to hand games to their division rival as the St. Louis Cardinals make a run at the National League wild card spots.

After the Cubs clinched homefield advantage throughout the NL playoffs with the Washington Nationals' loss Friday night, they had no answer for the Cardinals in a 10-4 loss in front of 40,785 fans at Wrigley Field Saturday afternoon on national TV.

A few disturbing trends popped their heads above ground for the Cubs again Saturday, including the offense's struggles at manufacturing runs, Jason Hammel getting shelled and some bullpen woes.

The Cubs had no trouble putting runners on base against Cardinals phenom Alex Reyes, but they had a tough time plating those guys, cashing in only once with a runner on third base in six tries over the first four innings.

In two of those spots, a Cubs hitter came up with only one out, but failed to bring the run home as Addison Russell struck out in the first inning and Kris Bryant popped out to shallow left in the second.

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Hammel recorded only seven outs and was tagged for six runs on six hits and a walk, watching his season ERA rise nearly 30 points to 3.83. The veteran right-hander fell to 15-10 as he attempts to make a push for one of the Cubs' final postseason roster spots.

"Honestly, I would love to be a part of [the playoff roster], as the rest of the guys on the team would love to," Hammel said. "I know there's only a certain amount of spots, so if I'm handed the ball, I'll be ready. That's the way I'm gonna view it.

"Obviously you wanna be a part of something special like that, but I think everybody here has already been a part of something special to get to this point. We're all very proud. We still got eight regular season ballgames left to build some momentum. Whether I'm on the roster or not, I'm still gonna enjoy it."

Hammel was also clearly on the wrong end of some bad luck Saturday, as the four runs he allowed in the first came via a check swing and a couple hits just out of the reach of his fielders. 

Joe Maddon won't put too much stock into one rough start in late September.

"I'm not too worried about a good or bad outing right now. I'm not," he said. "Pretty much, you know who the guy is. You know if the guy's go this stuff going on or if he doesn't. ... The greater body of work matters."

Setup man Hector Rondon struggled in his appearance, needing 26 pitches to notch just one out, giving up three runs on three hits and a walk before handing the ball off to Felix Pena.

Of course, it's also just one game and one loss for a team with 98 victories and hopes of the World Series.

Rondon had been nearly unhittable since returning from the disabled list two weeks ago and the Cubs offense had been efficient and relentless in the past four games after Maddon's meeting with the hitters earlier in the week.

Maddon also used the blowout to get regulars like Anthony Rizzo, Ben Zobrist, Jason Heyward and Russell out of the lineup to help keep them fresh for October.

After the game, Maddon chose to look on the bright side.

"Our starter had a tough day today; that's it. Otherwise we did some nice things," he said, referencing the solid offensive days from Dexter Fowler and Ben Zobrist. "We had chances to score runs - runners on third, less than two outs - and we didn't fulfill that.

"We made their starter throw 115 pitches in five innings; I think that's a positive."

The Cubs will close out their season series with the Cardinals on another nationally-televised showdown Sunday night between Jon Lester and St. Louis ace Carlos Martinez.