Leddy finding consistency

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Leddy finding consistency

COLUMBUS, Ohio Nick Leddy was getting the birthday wishes from his Blackhawks teammates at Tuesday mornings skate. But since he has a game tonight that 21st birthday party will have to wait.

Thatll be in a couple days, Leddy said with a laugh. But itll definitely be a lot of fun.

Leddys been growing up on the ice with the Blackhawks this season, and hes had the ups and downs that any 20-(or 21)-year-old would experience. But now paired with Johnny Oduya, Leddy has started to find more consistency in his game.

The young defenseman struggled earlier this season, and is still trying to turn his minus-12 rating around. But hes a plus-2 since he and Oduya got together eight-plus games ago, and Leddys been able to play a simpler game since.

They make a nice pair, coach Joel Quenneville said of that defensive tandem. But (Leddys) movement with the puck and his coming up the ice with speed, thats noticeable. It helps our team game as well. Hes defending better as we progress, too.

Leddy said he feels comfortable with Oduya. The Blackhawks trade-deadline acquisition brings a veteran presence and calm that benefits him.

His simplicity has been great; playing with him makes everything really easy and simple, Leddy said. It helps that hes been in the league for a while. He can teach me things. We talk on the bench quite a bit and were getting chemistry together.

Quenneville said Leddy still has room for growth. Any 21-year-old would. But Leddys with a good partner right now, and with time hell keep tapping into that potential.

His upside is tremendous, Quenneville said. There arent too many guys can come out of our own end, alleviate forechecking pressure and skate right through it without having to move the puck. Thats a great attribute in todays game. His play recognition with the puck is improving, and his experience around his own net is something hell get better at every day.

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.