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.

Why Jimmy Butler wanted Dwyane Wade to sign with Bulls

Why Jimmy Butler wanted Dwyane Wade to sign with Bulls

When Dwyane Wade’s re-signing with the Miami Heat went from a forgone conclusion to a question mark, the Chicago Bulls and Jimmy Butler got involved in a whirlwind courtship that resulted in Friday's all-smiles press conference.

The Bulls came with the tangibles, the respect in the form of $47 million. Butler came with the intangibles—and respect as the two had critical conversations that lead to Wade finally making the leap to trek back home to Chicago after 13 years on the beach.

It was why Wade was so comfortable at his own introductory news conference to cede the spotlight to Butler Friday afternoon, the savvy veteran understanding Butler was in attendance and giving Butler the affirmation he quietly craved in front of a national TV audience.

“Jimmy Butler, everybody! Jimmy, you gonna come out with your muscles out and everything, though? You got oil on...,” Wade said jokingly, motioning to Butler as Butler stood amongst many to the side, having just finished an on-court workout with his trainer.

Wade was reciprocating what Butler had initiated during free agency during those conversations, as the only question there is to be answered is how the two will mesh on the floor as opposed to the assumption of clashing personalities.

“Just what we can do if we were to play basketball together. I said look man, I’m okay with whatever role you want me to play,” said Butler to CSNChicago.com in an exclusive interview after Team USA beat Venezuela 80-45 Friday at the United Center, with Wade sitting next to Team USA’s bench. “But we can win games if you’re here with us. So that’s basically how it went.

“I was telling him, of all the things that have been said, I’m here to win. I don’t care what role I’m supposed to play, whose team it is, you come here, we’ll win games.”

[SHOP: Gear up, Bulls fans!]

Free agent acquisitions Wade and Rajon Rondo have openly said Butler is the first name on the basketball masthead, but Butler has termed them “the three Alphas”. Regardless of what Butler has said before publicly about not being concerned with his standing in the locker room of the Chicago Bulls, he’s feeling more and more comfortable with the position of leadership—perhaps emboldened by the validation of the two.

“Outside of all of that, all anybody wants is to be wanted,” Butler said. “He wants me to step up and lead. He wants this to be my team. Just like I wanted him for my team. That mutual respect, us being honest with each other like that, that’s where it starts. That’s the foundation.”

Establishing a pecking order is easier when the players who see this version of Jimmy Butler only know this version of Butler. The player who has evolved into an All-Star and Olympian, not necessarily the 30th pick in the 2011 NBA Draft.

Both attributes are true, but there’s something to be said about initial impressions and how they stick.

“Moving forward, I’m gonna do my best, whatever it takes to help us win games,” Butler said. “I don’t think people understand how serious I am when I say I want to (freaking) win a championship. I’m not playing.”

Rondo and Wade have the championship receipts, so it’s unlikely they’ll allow Butler to go unchecked if his methods aren’t parallel with his words. Given the appointed title Butler gave the three, it doesn’t sound like they would let him slide regardless.

“That’s what I wanted him here, that’s why I wanted Rondo here,” Butler said. “Because they’ve done it, they know what it takes. I want them to show me. If I’m not listening, make me listen.”

When told he could be bullheaded and stubborn, Butler agreed.

“I agree, I can (be). Fine. It only makes me better,” Butler said. “If you’re on my tail all the time it only makes me better. I want that. I like that. If I’m (messing) around, you tell me, you let me know, you’re better than that. You’re right. I’m gonna respond in a positive manner and I’m gonna do what I’m supposed to be doing.”

[RELATED: Third time's a charm as Dwyane Wade embraces Bulls and Jimmy Butler as leader]

Butler used a lot of “my team” and “my guys” but one can surmise it’s less about ownership and possessiveness compared to investment—the sweat equity that earns his respect and admiration more than any single attribute.

“I respect a lot of things but I think your confidence comes from your work,” Butler said. “I’m a firm believer in that. I’m successful because of that. I just put in the time. I know these guys put in the time.”

“I respect that s**t. I’m going to war with you everyday when I know in my heart that your best interest is to help us win. I’m all about that.”

Whether Butler felt some of his old teammates were moving all tides in the same direction, he wouldn’t say—and the former Bulls probably wouldn’t on elaborate on their feelings, either.

“I think man, it was a lot of mixes of everything,” he said. “We weren’t winning games we wanted to win. We were in and out the lineup, so many guys.

“I don’t wanna use any excuses but that had something to do with it. We have a whole new team, we gotta move forward. I’m happy for those new guys, I want them to be successful on their new team.”

But he admits last season was one to learn from, and falls back on the work that he hopes will lead to others following willingly.

“You grow. You learn. You grow. I’m six years into this thing,” Butler said. “I’ve made a name for myself. I’ve done a lot with basketball since I started. I think I’m only gonna start to get better. I pray I only continue to get better because I do work. I really do work.”

Preview: Arrieta, Cubs look to stay hot vs. Mariners today on CSN

Preview: Arrieta, Cubs look to stay hot vs. Mariners today on CSN

Jake Arrieta and the Cubs look to stay hot against the Mariners today, and you can catch all the action on Comcast SportsNet. Coverage begins with Cubs Pregame Live at 12:30 p.m. Then catch first pitch with Len Kasper and Jim Deshaies. Be sure to stick around after the final out to get analysis and player reaction on Cubs Postgame Live.

Starting pitching matchup: Wade Miley (6-8, 5.23 ERA) vs. Jake Arrieta (12-4, 2.76 ERA)

Click here for a game preview to make sure you’re ready for the action.  

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White Sox lose third straight, fall to Twins in 12 innings

White Sox lose third straight, fall to Twins in 12 innings

MINNEAPOLIS -- Now that he’s an All-Star, Jose Quintana feels more responsibility for the well-being of the White Sox, if that’s even possible.

Too bad his teammates haven’t held up their end.

On Friday night, Quintana continued a superb run since he returned from his first All-Star Game with nine strikeouts. But the White Sox couldn’t match their pitcher’s confidence as the offense produced six hits and the bullpen faltered late in a 2-1 loss to the Minnesota Twins in 12 innings in front of 23,983 at Target Field. Tommy Kahnle’s bases-loaded walk of Joe Mauer sent the White Sox, who were without Todd Frazier, to their third straight loss. Their record dropped to 50-53.

“After (the All-Star Game), I feel more confidence in me and more responsibility for my team, too,” Quintana said. “We have good players, a good rotation, everybody is throwing good and good hitters. But sometimes you see tough games like tonight.”

Quintana has been outstanding in three starts since he earned his first-ever All-Star nod earlier this month. He didn’t take long to establish that fact on Friday after the first two batters reached on a double and an error, striking out Minnesota’s 3-4-5 hitters to escape the jam. Starting with those strikeouts, Quintana retired 13 of 15 batters into the sixth inning.

[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

While he allowed the Twins to tie it at 1 with a run in the sixth, Quintana escaped a potential game-changing jam. Adam Eaton offered assistance when he threw Miguel Sano out at home on Kennys Vargas’s game-tying RBI single. But Quintana stranded a pair in scoring position when he struck out Eduardo Escobar. He retired two more in the seventh before handing the game over to the bullpen.

Since the All-Star break, Quintana has a 0.93 ERA over 19 1/3 innings in three starts. He has allowed 16 hits and two runs with five walks and 20 strikeouts. Even so, Quintana often goes unrewarded for his effort as his 8-8 record would indicate.

“I stood in on a lot of his bullpens when I was coming back,” said veteran Jusin Morneau, who went 1-for-3 in his first regular season game at Target Field since 2013. “You could just stand there because you didn’t have to worry about him missing his spot too often. He can throw pretty hard and throw where he wants to. It’s unfortunate we don’t score more runs when he’s out there because he could easily be 14 and whatever the way he’s throwing the ball. He’s an important part of this team.”

Another key cog, Frazier was scratched with flu-like symptoms before first pitch. He was only available in an emergency, manager Robin Ventura said. Without Frazier, the White Sox looked listless against Ricky Nolasco, who completed eight innings for the first time since 2014.

Eaton -- who had two outfield assists and has 16 this season -- led off the game with a 451-foot solo homer off Nolasco. From there Nolasco settled down and retired 15 of 17 into the sixth inning. Morneau’s second-inning single just missed being a solo homer. But aside from that, the White Sox did little well.

[RELATED: Robin Ventura doesn't want to see Sale or Quintana traded]

They had a promising chance wiped out in the seventh inning after a leadoff double by Melky Cabrera as Nolasco struck out Jose Abreu and retired Morneau and Dioner Navarro.

Nolasco allowed a run and three hits with six strikeouts in eight innings.

The bullpen then shut the White Sox down for four more innings. Dan Jennings took over in the bottom of the 12th and hit one batter and walked another. Kahnle took over and walked Brian Dozier and Mauer to end the game.

“You feel like you gave it to ‘em,” Ventura said. “We’ve been struggling anyway. But I think with his breaking ball, (Nolasco) just had us fishing for strikes. … It seemed like we were chasing stuff all night.

“All (losses) hurt. But when you’re only chalking up one run and guys are going out and pitching pretty good, that’s the one that hurts.”