Mixed results in Rose's return

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Mixed results in Rose's return

NEW YORKJudging from his point total in Sunday afternoons loss to the Knicks, Derrick Rose was not only back in the Bulls lineup, but back to his old ways.

However, the box score, which reflected his struggles shooting and handling the ball told a different story.

Now, Rose clearly got more comfortable as the game went on, but while there were flashes of his explosiveness, he didnt display his trademark burst on a regular basis and his turnover issues showed a lack of timing. More significantly, his problems late in the game at the free-throw line which famously plagued him in a late-January loss at Miami, not to mention in the NCAA national-championship game as a freshman in college reared its ugly head.

Free throws, turnovers. Thats the reason why we lost this game. I had a lot of turnovers, just getting back into rhythm. Its just one of those games at the end, missed those free throws. Hopefully next time, if I get the opportunity, Im going to knock them down, a dejected Rose said afterwards. I told them if I was out there and we needed to win the game, I wanted to be in the game and he put me in. I missed those damn free throws and next time, I know Ill for sure hit one of them.

Both Rose and All-Star teammate Luol Deng came up short at the charity stripe with the Bulls needing just one foul shot to make it a two-possession game, resulting in Knicks star Carmelo Anthony hitting a game-tying three-pointer to send the contest into overtime, following Rose missing a game-winning shot attempt at the buzzer. In the extra session, Rose came up short on another opportunity to win the game at the buzzer.

Step-back. Shot a little bit too hard. I think it was on target, but it just went over the rim a little bit too hard and I can live with that. My teammates gave me the ball, they have confidence in me to take those type of shots and this time, I just missed it, he recounted. They swarmed me and I just got the shot off, but it didnt go in.

I just fell into him. I was trying to come off, he was playing me hard, he tripped and I tripped over him. I looked up, the ball was in, just ran to the ball, he continued, when asked about the games final play, on which he initially stumbled when tangled up with a Knicks defender. Oh, its tough. Its definitely tough. When you lose a game, especially for us, its tough. Its going to hurt us, no matter who we lose to. But their team played great, man. Knocking down shots, didnt give up when we went up, had a big lead.

On the bright side, Rose said that he didnt feel any negative aftereffects following the game and understands where he can improve.

I was trying to do too much. Try to let the game come to me. My teammates did a great job of getting us back into the game and second half, I was trying to play a little bit more aggressive, he explained. Trying to take off too fast, ball behind me or trying to be aggressive going to the hole and not cuffing the ball like I normally do, but that comes with time and hopefully next time we play them, turnovers will be down.

Just the tempo of the game. I didnt really get to the lane. When I did get to the lane, missing floaters, missing layups. Shots that I normally hit. I just wasnt hitting them today. I know that will come with time, too, the All-Star point guard continued. I feel good. When I was out there, getting my groove back, my wind was OK. Just playing. It just felt good to be out there.

When asked about the strained right groin that kept him out of action since the last Bulls-Knicks matchup in March, Rose said it wasn't on his mind.

I didnt think of it," he said. "Im not worried about that. My thing is, just try to get better. Defensively, we just werent there today and hopefully next time we play them, well come out with a sense of urgency.

Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau, while displeased with his teams mistakes in general, wasnt overly critical of Roses performance in his first game after missing 12 straight.

About what we expected. Some good, some bad. Handling the ball was a problem, but our whole team, we didnt take care of the ball, he said. Overall, I thought he played very well. Down the stretch, there were some bobbles and not clean, but thatll come quickly for him.

He said he was great. Talked to Fred Tedeschi, the teams trainer during the game. Said he was fine, so he was good, he continued. I talked about that playing Rose in the games stretch run with Fred. Because he was feeling fine, that was real good. We had an idea where we wanted the minutes to be.

Added Carlos Boozer: It was great to have him back. He looked great. He played great. He played a lot of minutes for his first game back and played very well, and it was great to see him back out there. Its just good to have No. 1 back in the lineup.

Chimed in Luol Deng: Ive played with Derrick for years now. Thats not really the problem.

White Sox draft pick Zack Collins wins Johnny Bench Award

White Sox draft pick Zack Collins wins Johnny Bench Award

This June just keeps getting better and better for Zack Collins.

Collins was selected by the White Sox with the No. 10 pick in the MLB Draft, made it to the College World Series with the University of Miami, signed his first professional contract and now he is the Johnny Bench Award winner.

The Johnny Bench Award was created in 2000 and is given to the top college catcher in Division 1. Previous winners include Buster Posey and Kurt Suzuki.

Collins already had a haul of first-team All-America honors from Baseball America, D1Baseball, the NCBWA, Perfect Game and Rawlings.

Collins hit .363 with 16 home runs, 59 RBIs and a .668 slugging percentage. He also led the nation with 78 walks this season for the Hurricanes, which went 0-2 at the College World Series. Collins started 62 of 64 Miami games and made 59 of those starts at catcher.

How Bulls could land a max free agent and re-sign E’Twaun Moore

How Bulls could land a max free agent and re-sign E’Twaun Moore

Quick note here because we are all eager to get back to our twitter feeds and wild speculation. Even though the Bulls will only have approximately $24 million in cap space, there is one situation in which they can sign a Tier 1 max player AND re-sign E’twaun Moore.

This all hinges on the deal (and discount) that Moore would give the Bulls. The Bulls have Early-Bird rights with Moore; that means they can potentially sign him to a deal and not eat into their cap space. There are a lot of rules into how this works and I won’t bore you with details, but the bottom line is that the Bulls can offer a 3-year deal for approx. $21 million or a 4-year deal for appox $28 million. If Moore accepts this contract, the Bulls just to have account for his ‘cap hold’ of $980,431 in free agency until the actual deal is signed. 

This potential deal would leave the Bulls approximately $23 million to spend, well above the $22.2 million it would take to land a Tier 1 (0-6 year NBA player) in free agency. This includes restricted free agent Harrison Barnes. Again, this only works if Moore doesn’t want to test free agency, or doesn’t receive a better offer in free agency. If Moore wants more money, the Bulls have to use their cap space to sign him to a larger deal.

One important key to any restricted free agent like Barnes, the Warriors will have 3 days to match any offer sheet that Barnes signs. Barnes can’t sign an offer sheet until July 7th, so the Warriors effectively will have until at least July 10th to make that decision. This prevents any team like the Bulls ‘swooping’ in and landing Barnes while Kevin Durant conducts his meetings in the Hamptons.

Cubs aren’t sweating loss to Mets or NLCS flashbacks: ‘Big-boy games are totally different'

Cubs aren’t sweating loss to Mets or NLCS flashbacks: ‘Big-boy games are totally different'

NEW YORK – The Cubs didn’t overreact to getting swept in last year’s National League Championship Series, but the New York Mets did expose some underlying issues while a deep playoff run created a sense of urgency in Wrigleyville.

The Cubs spent like crazy on the free-agent market (almost $290 million) and wore T-shirts around spring training that literally put targets on their chests, knowing the look would go viral on social media and spark love/hate responses.

Making a statement? Sending a message? That’s so last year, when the Cubs were a team still trying to find an identity and learn how to win. The Mets are now the ones feeling the season-on-the-brink anxiety, desperate for offense and crossing their fingers that all those talented young pitchers stay healthy.

Maybe this becomes a turning point for the defending NL champs, beating the Cubs 4-3 on Thursday night at Citi Field to kick off a marquee four-game series in front of 40,122 and a national TV audience. Not that John Lackey – the playoff-tested veteran the Cubs signed to lengthen their rotation for October – felt any added significance in facing the Mets.

“None,” Lackey said. “It’s June, who cares? Big-boy games are totally different.”

Yes, Lackey was “pretty surprised” and a little miffed that manager Joe Maddon pulled him with a runner on and one out in the seventh inning and the Cubs holding a 3-1 lead. Joel Peralta failed this bullpen audition, walking Alejandro De Aza (.158 average) and giving up an RBI single to just-promoted-from-Triple-A Las Vegas rookie Brandon Nimmo.

Neil Walker put the pressure on highlight-reel defender Javier Baez, who fielded a chopper at second base, didn’t have a play at home plate and made the split-second decision to throw toward backpedaling third baseman Kris Bryant. The Mets showed last October that little things matter in big-boy games, and the throwing error from a Gold Glove-caliber player suddenly gave them a 4-3 lead.  

“Getting beat’s one thing,” Lackey said. “But when you feel like you kind of gave one away – or let one go – that’s a different kind of loss.”

The Mets (41-37) might not have must-win games in July, but they needed some good news in “Panic City.” Steven Matz, who set off alarm bells this week with the disclosure he’s been pitching with a bone spur in his left elbow, managed to work into the sixth inning and throw 104 pitches, giving up homers to Bryant and Baez but limiting the damage to only three runs.

Yoenis Cespedes, who revived a lifeless lineup after last summer’s trade-deadline blockbuster, energized the Mets again with a big swing in the sixth inning, drilling a Lackey pitch 441 feet out to left field and onto the third deck, creating a 110-mph exit velocity with his 19th home run.

“New year, different team, different circumstances,” said Jake Arrieta, who lost Game 2 here last October, watching Daniel Murphy reach so far down for a curveball that his left knee almost scraped the dirt, driving it out for a momentum-shifting, first-inning, two-run homer. “We’ll probably relive some memories that weren’t very exciting.

“You never want to lose one step from a World Series. But, again, we had a team that was very young with a lot of rookies contributing. We gained a lot of valuable experience from those games, regardless of the outcome. And we’re obviously better for it this season with some new pieces. We look forward to ending in a little different fashion this year.”

The Cubs (51-27) still don’t have the answer for Mets closer Jeurys Familia, who finished off all four NLCS wins last October and is now 27-for-27 in save chances this season. Miguel Montero led off the ninth inning with a pinch-hit walk and Ben Zobrist followed with a double into right field before those all-or-nothing contact issues resurfaced.

Familia responded by striking out Bryant swinging – all six pitches were marked as sinkers clocked between 97 and 98 mph – and intentionally walking Anthony Rizzo to load the bases. Maybe this exposure will pay off in the playoffs, but Familia struck out Willson Contreras swinging and got Javier Baez to pop out to end the game. The Citi Field sound system started playing Ace Frehley’s “(I’m Back, Back in the) New York Groove.” Not that the Cubs were having flashbacks.

“We know the feeling of getting eliminated, getting swept, but I think we’re onto bigger and better things,” Bryant said. “We’re ready for it. Different year, different players here, different attitude.”