Belinelli, Bulls hold off Nets in nail-biter

964115.png

Belinelli, Bulls hold off Nets in nail-biter

Saturday nights 83-82 Bulls (13-9) win over the Nets (13-10) at the United Center was a story weve seen before: The undermanned squad, playing an opponent with supposedly more talent on paper and featuring a former player, this time C.J. Watson used a formula of offensive balance, timely contributions from an unexpected source, determination to fight back with the odds against them and of course, Tom Thibodeaus vaunted defense, to earn a hard-fought victory.

Two Joakim Noah (12 points, 10 rebounds, five assists) dunks the second of which, over Brooklyn counterpart Brook Lopez (18 points, 10 rebounds), was highlight-worthy started the Bulls off on a positive note, as the hosts scored the games first six points and hit their first five shots from the field. In addition to Noah, fellow starters Carlos Boozer (15 points, six rebounds) and Marco Belinelli (19 points) also had good starts, enabling the Bulls to build a cushion in the early going.

While Lopez, whos dealing with health issues, found his groove as a scorer early, as did point guard Deron Williams (24 points, five assists), half of Brooklyns All-Star backcourt Joe Johnson (16 points), the Nets marquee offseason acquisition, picked up two quick fouls and took a seat on the bench the visitors looked sluggish overall, perhaps a byproduct of playing a double-overtime game the previous evening. That changed as the opening period waned on, as Williams outside marksmanship made it a close-knit affair and at the end of the first quarter, the Bulls trailed, 24-23, despite Boozer carrying the offensive load.

The game remained tight in the second frame, as backup point guards Marquis Teague in for Nate Robinson, who started in place of the injured Kirk Hinrich, but picked up two quick fouls and Watson, the former Bull in his first game back in Chicago, went at it. Teagues speed and ability to score in transition, were immediately evident and matched up with an elite player at his position in Williams, he held his own on the defensive end.

The tenor of the contest suited the home teams defensive sensibilities, even as their field-goal percentage dropped on the other side of the ball, necessitating putting the clamps on their guests offensive intentions. At the intermission, the Bulls held a 46-41 advantage, with Nets backup big man Andray Blatche making an impact for the guests.

After the break, Belinellis efficient scoring and underrated playmaking helped the Bulls start the third quarter positively, but after flirting with acquiring a double-digit lead, the hosts allowed Brooklyn to get back into the game. Behind the play of Lopez, Williams, Johnson and veteran Gerald Wallace, the Nets significantly cut into the deficit, eventually overtaking their hosts.

In what evolved into a defensive struggle, the Bulls took control late in the frame to once again build some breathing room, with Belinelli, Luol Deng (17 points, seven rebounds) and reserve Taj Gibson serving as catalysts. Heading into the final stanza, the Bulls held a 67-62 lead, following a Deng jumper with 2.9 seconds left in the frame.

The Bulls lead proved to be tenuous as the fourth quarter began, as the visitors quickly regained the momentum in the contest, buoyed by the point production of Johnson. Put into the position of playing from behind after the Nets built a slim cushion, but led by the play of Teague, who continued to display poise beyond his 19 years, the Bulls made it a nip-and-tuck game heading into the stretch run.

Critical unforced errors appeared to be the hosts ultimate undoing late in the contest, but after a Belinelli fast-break layup cut it to 79-77, in Brooklyns favor, with 1:26 remaining, the Bulls tied the game at 79 with 1:01 left, on a Deng dunk in transition from a slick Teague assist after a Nets turnover.

Following a defensive stop on the other end, a Belinelli driving layup gave the Bulls an 81-79 advantage with 22.1 seconds to go, leading to yet another clutch defensive stop and two free throws by Belinelli to seal the deal, which ended up being necessary for the winning margin, as Williams hit a three-pointer at the buzzer.

Carlos Rodon to start Wednesday while White Sox reliever undergoes Tommy John

Carlos Rodon to start Wednesday while White Sox reliever undergoes Tommy John

Rick Hahn began his briefing to the media on Monday with two announcements: First, left-hander Carlos Rodon will make his season debut Wednesday against the New York Yankees. 

And right-hander Zach Putnam underwent Tommy John surgery last week and will miss the remainder of the season.

The 29-year-old Putnam was placed on the 10-day disabled list April 25 with right elbow inflammation, but his elbow issues began before that. Last June, Putnam landed on the disabled list with ulnar neuritis in his right elbow and later had surgery to remove bone chips from his elbow in August (Putnam was first diagnosed with a bone spur in his elbow in 2013 while with the Chicago Cubs). 

“When they removed the chips, the ligament was not in great shape but Zach and his doctors thought it was worthwhile for him to try to fight back and pitch through it, which obviously he was able to do for a short period of time but ultimately the ligament gave out,” Hahn said. “Zach deserves a world of credit for doing everything he could the last two years to fight his way back to contribute in the bullpen. Unfortunately it didn’t work out for him.”

Putnam’s Tommy John surgery was performed by Dr. James Andrews and carries a 12-18 month recovery process, which on the more extreme end could rule him out for the entire 2018 season, too. 

This latest setback is another tough break for Putnam, who was outstanding in limited action over the last two seasons, posting a 2.00 ERA with 39 strikeouts, 12 walks and two home runs allowed in 36 innings out of the White Sox bullpen. 

As for Rodon, Hahn wouldn’t tip his hand as to what move will be made to return the 2014 first-round pick to the major league roster. Rodon threw at least 90 pitches in his last three minor league rehab starts and worked in extended spring training before that, so he won’t face any restrictions when he takes the mound against the Yankees on Wednesday. 

“He’s starting his season now,” Hahn said. “He had to alter his training regimen and get himself back on track and we have him out there without restrictions with the same expectations we had for him at the end of last season. He continues to be an important part of our future.” 

60 Days to Kickoff: St. Patrick

stpats1.jpg

60 Days to Kickoff: St. Patrick

 CSNChicago.com preps reporter "Edgy" Tim O’Halloran spotlights 100 high school football teams in 100 days. The first 75 team profiles will focus on teams making strides across Chicagoland and elsewhere in the state. Starting Jul. 31, we’ll unveil the @CSNPrepsTop 25 Power Rankings, leading up to kickoff on Friday, Aug. 25.

School: St. Patrick

Head coach: Adam Guerra

Assistant Coaches: Steve Eifrid, Russ Lucas, Matt O'Brien, Pat Gamboney, Mike Fabrizio, Dan Delgado, PJ Whalen

How they fared in 2016: 4-5 (2-5 East Suburban Catholic Conference), failed to qualify for the 2016 IHSA state playoffs.

2017 Regular Season Schedule:

Aug. 26 – vs St. Rita @ Soldier Field

Sept. 1 – @ Glenbrook South

Sept. 8 – @ Joliet Catholic

Sept. 16 - vs Marian Catholic @ Triton College

Sept. 23 - vs Notre Dame @ Triton College

Sept. 29 – @ Marist

Oct. 6 - @ St. Viator

Oct. 14 - vs Carmel @ Triton College

Oct. 20- @ Marian Central Catholic

Biggest storyline: Can the Shamrocks reload under first year head coach Adan Guerra?

Names to watch this season:  Senior RB Joey Solak Senior WR/DB Joey Lombardi 

Biggest holes to fill: The Shamrocks will look to reload this summer in the offensive skills department and in particular at quarterback with the graduation loss of QB Anthony Mazzenga from a season ago.

EDGY's Early Take: New head coach Adam Guerra takes over a Shamrocks roster that welcomes back 9 returning starters (5 offense 4 defense) and a very good underclassmen group. Look for St. Pats to focus on being a bit more consistent this fall after getting off to a 4-0 start in 2016, then only to lose it's last 5 games of the season.