Bettman addresses Final, league-wide concerns

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Bettman addresses Final, league-wide concerns

The Kings took a 1-0 lead in the series against the Devils last night in New Jersey, continuing their flawless streak on the road and maintaining their record of never falling behind in a series throughout the Stanley Cup playoffs.

The last time the Kings made an appearance in the Final was back in 1993 when they were eliminated in Game 5 against the Montreal Canadiens. That season also marks the first year Gary Bettman began serving as NHL commissioner, so he understands and appreciates the excitement this series is bringing to the league.

But as they end of the postseason approaches, questions concerning the league's CBA situation arise. NBC Sports spoke with Bettman, asking what fans can anticipate as the league heads into the off-season.

"My hope is that we can get through this quickly, quietly, and painlessly," Bettman said. "I know there's been a lot of speculation and a lot of pessimism, but we haven't had any substantive conversations yet, so I'm not sure anyone should be rushing to conclusions yet.

"I think it's better for them to enjoy what's going to happen in the next few days and weeks here between the Kings and the Devils."

The NHL has cracked down on on-ice antics as well as gear protection, and although we've seen top players in the league suffer long-sustained injuries this season, it seems like there's light at the end of the tunnel.

"For the first time in three years, the number of concussions went down... and that's in the face of us being much more aggressive in diagnosing concussions and much more conservative in their treatment."

After seeing how Sidney Crosby, Chris Pronger, and even Jonathan Toews were affected by concussions, it's hard to believe that the issue is being resolved. But after seeing suspensions such as Raffi Torres' 25-game ban, it's apparent that the league is being stricter on reprimanding illegal play.

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. But 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 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.

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

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 Robin Lopez and taunting the Bulls bench after hitting a jumper to put the Kings ahead, 70-63 midway through the third.

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 as the Paul Zipser played heavy minutes and even finished out the game on the floor.

Zipser scored 13 and Nikola Mirotic scored 11 off the bench, with Jimmy Butler scoring 23 with seven assists and five rebounds in 39 minutes.