Three-ball lifts New Trier past Fenwick

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Three-ball lifts New Trier past Fenwick

By Patrick McGavin
YourSeason.com

David Bragiel was almost embarrassed by the question. I dont normally shoot like this, the New Trier senior guard said. It is pretty hard to improve on perfection.Bragiel hit four three-pointers and made all five of his shots in scoring 18 points and distributing a team-leading seven assists to lead the No. 13 Trevians over Fenwick 62-47 in a first-round Proviso West Holiday tournament matchup Tuesday in Hillside.New Trier advances to play Homewood-Flossmoor in Wednesdays quarterfinals.Bragiels initial two three-pointers helped New Trier (10-1) climb out of an early 5-0 deficit after Fenwick forward Luke Lattner opened the game with a jumper in the lane and a three-pointer from the left baseline. Following his lead, New Triers 6-7 star forward Connor Boehm took control. Boehm scored New Triers next eight points on an impressive variety of inside moves as New Trier led 14-7 after the first period. The outside-in tandem proved difficult for Fenwick (3-6) to match up against. Thats how its been the whole year, he said, because teams focus two or three guys to try and stop Connor and it leaves a lot of space for myself and the other shooters.The good thing is we have three or four guys that can make the shots.Boehm finished with 17 points and seven rebounds.New Trier (8 of 19 on three-pointers) outscored the Friars 24-9 from distance. Austin Angel (nine points) and Bragiel hit consecutive three-pointers as the Trevians seized a 30-21 lead at the break.The game turned late in the third quarter. Behind Samuel Ainsworth (12 points) and sophomore Scott Lindsey (10 points), the Friars mounted a 9-1 run to pull within 39-34. Bragiel broke a trap and found Angel unattended on the right baseline. Angel buried the three-pointers and followed that moments later with a three-point play.New Trier coach Scott Fricke thought his team was sluggish after a nearly two-week lay off. You have to give Fenwick a lot of credit, he said. They are long and active and forced a lot of turnovers in the first half. He also acknowledged the teams perimeter skills transcends the occasional lapse or mistake. We have a multitude of shooters, he said.New Trier also unveiled another dangerous weapon in 6-5 junior forward Steven Cook. He scored six of his 16 points in the second quarter. He also added a game-high 10 rebounds. Cook struggled with his shot early but became increasingly comfortable as the game wore on. This was my time really playing in the tournament and I think I was a little nervous because I wanted to do well, he said. As the game wore I got more comfortable.

Doug McDermott's return boosts Bulls' bench

Doug McDermott's return boosts Bulls' bench

Doug McDermott wasn’t exactly hunting for his first shot, but the first time he touched the ball in an NBA game in nearly a month wasn’t the optimal situation for him to let one fly.

It wasn’t in transition where he runs to an opening behind the 3-point line, nor was it a drive-and-kick situation where the help defense collapsed and left him open. It was a regular, simple, pass to the perimeter and McDermott’s defender was in reasonable proximity with 3:23 left in the first quarter.

He launched and the crowd soon roared its approval as his sweet jumper was sorely missed by the Bulls bench brigade—and moments later when he ran the floor for a fearless layup that caused Spurs coach Gregg Popovich to call a timeout, McDermott showed he missed the United Center crowd too, calling for more noise on his way to the bench.

“Anytime you have a guy like Doug, he comes back and makes his first 3, that’s hard to do,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. “He stepped up with confidence on that first shot. I’m sure he had a lot of nerves getting back out there.”

Missing 12 games and suffering two concussions, McDermott looked right at home in 25 minutes of run Thursday as the Bulls were able to rely on their reserves in some form in their 95-91 win over the previously perfect road warriors known as the Spurs.

“We defended and kept them off the foul line,” McDermott said. “Coach (Jim) Boylen was with them, so we feel we know them and I think all this time they were missing my defense.”

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The last statement was certainly tongue-in-cheek, but the Bulls’ bench production was certainly missing in action while he was out with the concussion protocol. So much so that his return prompted the Bulls’ coaching staff to call out the reserves in the morning shootaround, demanding more.

“It’s definitely Dwyane (Wade) and Jimmy (Butler) and (Rajon) Rondo (but) the coaching staff kinda called out our bench like, we gotta have you tonight, bench,” McDermott said. “We took that to heart, we were really locked in.”

Seemingly his presence aided the Bulls’ spirits and production, as the Bulls’ bench had the least effective scoring bench in the NBA since Nov. 13, the day after McDermott hit the unforgiving floor against the Wizards for his second concussion this season.

Their net rating ranks ahead of only the Wizards, Mavericks and Nets, who are a combined 17-45 this season. Their effective field goal percentage, which takes into account 3-pointers, is worst in the league in that span (42.3 percent).

When McDermott was healthy for that smaller sample size, the Bulls’ bench ranked fifth in offensive efficiency, seventh in net rating, and fifth in efficient field goal percentage. Whether McDermott – and his absence – was directly related to those numbers, it’s clear the Bulls are better when they have their best reserve – and only true floor spacers on the second unit – on the court.

“We’re all professionals and we want to help the guys who are busting their butts in the first unit to get us the leads,” McDermott said. “Tonight we did a great job of sustaining it. We take it personal when teams come back on us.”

[MORE: Pau Gasol relishes consistency with Spurs he couldn't find with Bulls]

Nikola Mirotic was four of eight from the field, and Cristiano Felicio seems to be back in Fred Hoiberg’s good graces as he’s carved out a rotation spot for himself with nine points and seven rebounds in 18 minutes.

It seems as if Hoiberg will stick with this rotation of players, at least for a little while until Michael Carter-Williams returns from his injuries. If McDermott is the mark of the Bulls’ bench going from bottom feeder to adequate, it should show this month.

“When he’s out there on the floor and we get him coming off screens, it forces the defense to shift as another person they need to be aware of,” Hoiberg said. “It opens up driving lanes for our guys. It was great to have Doug back with us.”

Morning Update: Bulls beat Spurs in Pau Gasol's return to Chicago

Morning Update: Bulls beat Spurs in Pau Gasol's return to Chicago

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