After tough loss, Bulls eager for Knicks rematch

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After tough loss, Bulls eager for Knicks rematch

What makes the loss so tough? Joakim Noah asked, repeating the question that was asked of him following Sundays overtime defeat in New York. We beat ourselves tonight, so its upsetting.

It was a lot of mental mistakes. A lot of mental mistakes and just, you play hard and you know you want to win. You do all the right things and if losing didnt hurt, then winning wouldnt be so rewarding, so its definitely a game thats a tough pill to swallow, but weve got to bounce back, he told CSNChicago.com. You definitely dont want to give them confidence, but it is what it is. Were playing this team again on Tuesday and were excited about that.

Indeed, the Bulls have a chance to avenge their Easter loss at Madison Square Garden on their own turf and while they could be without reigning league MVP Derrick Rosethe All-Star point guard suffered a right ankle sprain in the second quarter Sunday, his first game back in the lineup after missing 12 consecutive contests with a strained right grointhey relish the rematch.

You know what? We just want to play them again on Tuesday. Were still in good shape. We still control our own destiny. We dont need to get down about the loss. Theres some stuff weve got to fix and weve got to learn from. We make some free throws, which we normally make, its a totally different game, were getting different questions. Its a whole new world. They made a couple tough shots. We missed some free throws. Theres obviously a couple plays wed love to have back. Were not going to hang our heads, man. We play them again on Tuesday and were going to go get them, said sharpshooter Kyle Korver.

Its not hard. We get to play them again. Its great. We get to play them again at home on Tuesday. Im sure were going to watch a whole lot of film tomorrow, were going to talk about a lot of things. This is a great opportunity, being that its a team that we could play. We get them twice in a row, how itll be in the playoffs. Youre going to play teams in a row. It could be this team. This is a really great thing. You dont want to just blow the team out and come out flat. They have our attention obviously. Theyre a great team. They have a lot of firepower, but well be ready to go on Tuesday. Im not worried about it at all.

Still, Sundays losstheir third already in Aprilis the type of defeat that sticks with a team, especially as they try to work Rose and Hamilton into the lineup after the starting backcourt duo missed extensive time with injuries. Rotation aside, after climbing back out of a huge hole to start the game and watching Knicks superstar Carmelo Anthony send the game into overtime, then win it in the extra session as part of his 43-point performance, the Bulls feel like they let one slip out of their grasp.

You just feel like we could have won that game in so many different ways. What if? You always ask yourself what if because you normally close games out the right way, making foul shots. The last couple plays really bother you, when you feel like you gave up a three and you know you could have fouled or you could have got a little closer and its tough. The way we fought back from 20-something points and they took the lead, and had good momentum. Its rough, Taj Gibson told CSNChicago.com.

Its tough because anything can happen. One thing about this league, nothing comes easy. Every game is different and we have to learn from this game, and build on it.

Added All-Star Luol Deng: We felt like we had the game. We felt like we had it.

The fact that the Bulls were so horrific in the early going Sunday, while an extreme case, isnt exactly a surprise. This is a squad that has specialized in the art of comebacks all season, but this deep into the campaign, its not something they want to hang their hat on.

The Bulls have to come out with a sense of urgency. This team is fighting for a playoff spot and even though were already in the playoffs, we just cant come out sluggish, said Rose. Theyve always been a team that plays hard, but now, Melos in a groove, where hes been hitting a lot of tough shots and they do a great job of finding him.

Echoed Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau, about his teams habit of slow starts specifically: Its a concern. Its a big concern.

Perhaps even more significantly than the loss alone is the fact that the Knicks, currently seventh in the Eastern Conferencefree-falling Philadelphia, which has the same record, entered Tuesday in eighth placestand a good chance of being the Bulls first-round opponent.

Theres a good chance that were going to play this team in the first round and you dont want to give them confidence. You dont want to give them any kind of an edge or any kind of anything, so with that being said, I wish we could have finished this game out better, but I think there was a lot to learn from it and we understand that weve had guys out, and were kind of getting back in the groove. But at the same time, we needed to win this, said Korver.

Theyre a team thats dangerous, man. Youre going to have to help and youre going to have to rotate, but at the same time, you cant give up those threes.

Chimed in Rose: on the potential opening-round matchup: Its just going to be fun. Theyre a good team, where they fight throughout the whole game and if we do play them, itll be a fun series.

Entertaining, sure. But being that Roses definition of fun is winning, that series would only meet his expectations if the Bulls can rectify what currently ails them.

Kyle Baun healthy, ready for another chance with Blackhawks

Kyle Baun healthy, ready for another chance with Blackhawks

Kyle Baun couldn’t have asked for a better start to his second NHL season as he made the Blackhawks roster out of training camp.

It didn’t last long, however, as Baun was back with the Rockford IceHogs after two games with Chicago. As for that season in Rockford?

“That was a whole other story,” said Baun.

Indeed, Baun lost a good portion of his Rockford season when his right wrist was sliced twice by another player’s skate in mid-November. That, however, is all behind him. Now Baun hopes to replicate his 2015 camp performances and latch on with the big club longer.

Baun will play in his first preseason game this fall when the Blackhawks face the Pittsburgh Penguins Friday night. The 24-year-old skated is expected to start on a line with Tyler Motte and Tanner Kero, with whom he skated on Friday morning.

“I just want to simulate what I did last year, and it went well at the beginning,” Baun said. “I want to keep working hard, do what I did last year in the exhibition season and hopefully I can stick again.”

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

Baun’s stint was short lived last fall; he was reassigned to Rockford on Oct. 16, and was looking to have a strong season there. Less than a month later, however, he suffered his right wrist injury that sidelined him for more than three months. Baun said he still wasn’t quite right even when he returned.

“I was trying to get back with the wrist and stuff, and I’m not sure it was 100 percent by the time I came back,” said Baun, who now wears Kevlar guards on his wrists. “So it was good to get a summer of training back in and get my legs under me.”

As for that wrist, Baun said it’s definitely “much better now.”

“The strength and dexterity is back,” he said. “It’s a small muscle, so to get the dexterity back was kind of tough.”

Baun is looking for another opportunity. Considering the opportunities for forwards this season, a good showing could lead to some more time in Chicago.

“I’m just trying to focus on my own game like last year. I think that worked for me, trying not to look too, too much into what everyone else is doing,” he said. “Consistency is the biggest thing here. They’re just looking for a guy who can come in, game in and game out, and improve.”

BRIEFLY

- Jonathan Toews, Marian Hossa and Corey Crawford, who just wrapped up their World Cup of Hockey play on Thursday night, will probably get “three or four days off” before joining camp, assistant coach Mike Kitchen said. “They’ve been going for a long time,” Kitchen said. “We’ll give them some time off.”

- Coach Joel Quenneville flew to Pittsburgh with the team.

Three keys and prediction: Notre Dame - Syracuse

Three keys and prediction: Notre Dame - Syracuse

Here are three keys and a prediction for Saturday's Notre Dame-Syracuse game in New Jersey.

1. Make a play on Amba Etta-Tawo: Orange quarterback Eric Dungey targets Etta-Tawo, college football’s leading receiver through four weeks, an average of 13 times a game. Covering Etta-Tawo well is one thing, but that won’t necessarily mean Dungey will look elsewhere to throw the ball. Senior Cole Luke will probably get the first crack at guarding Etta-Tawo, and he’ll have to make a few plays on the ball (a tipped pass, an interception, etc.) to force Dungey out of his comfort zone. If Luke can’t do it, look for an underclassmen — Donte Vaughn, who picked off a pass against Duke, would have to lead that next group — to step in. Stopping Etta-Tawo would go a long way toward keeping the points down against Syracuse’s going-to-plaid offense. 

2. Meet “the standard” on offense. DeShone Kizer has been somewhere between very good and great this season, but it hasn’t been enough for Notre Dame to avoid any of their three losses. Syracuse’s defense is prone to allowing explosive plays and has struggled against the run, so triggering Josh Adams, Dexter Williams and/or Tarean Folston on the ground could allow Kizer to pick apart the Orange secondary as the game goes on. Most importantly, Kizer and his teammates need to avoid carelessly turning the ball over, as they did a few times against Michigan State and Syracuse. 

3. Effective play from the young guys. Kelly said one of the defensive changes we’ll see going forward is a lot more younger, talented players getting on the field in situations in which they weren’t equipped to in Brian VanGorder’s complex defense. Maybe that means defensive end Daelin Hayes using his elite pass rushing trait to pressure Dungey, or linebacker Asmar Bilal using his excellent speed trait to run with a crossing route and break up a pass. No matter how it happens, it has to happen — with that “it” being making defensive plays. Without sacks, TFLs, fumbles and/or interceptions, all that talk of Notre Dame having more “fun” this week will ring hollow on Saturday.

 

Prediction: Notre Dame 45, Syracuse 42. Adams and Williams both have big games on the ground and Kizer leads an offensive oscillating between explosive and efficient to, for the first time this year, enough points to overcome a shaky defensive performance.