Plenty of local flavor in Bulls' home opener


Plenty of local flavor in Bulls' home opener

When people talk about the city of Chicago breeding guards, they arent kidding. Three of the four starting guards in the Bulls New Years Day home opener against the Grizzlies hail from the Windy City.

In addition to reigning league MVP Derrick Rose for the home team, Memphis boasts a starting backcourt of two Chicago Public Schools products, shooting guard Tony Allen and point guard Jeremy Pargo, who has replaced the injured Mike Conley in the starting lineup.

Allen went to Crane High School, blocks from the United Center, before heading to junior college and leading Oklahoma State (which also featured Bulls reserve John Lucas III) to a Final Four. His younger brother, Ryan Allen, a senior on the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukees mens basketball team, also happens to be one of Roses best friends.

Hes a tough competitor. He can really play. Hes had some injuries in his career, but whenever hes gotten extended minutes, hes played really well. Hes as good as a defender as youll find in the league. Terrific cutter, slasher, can put it on the floor, can score, can play off people. If you turn your head, hes great at moving without the ball, said Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau of Allen, who inspired Memphis Grit and Grind themed playoff run last postseason. I had the opportunity to coach him in Boston and hes a winner. Tough guy. When he got the opportunity to play last year, he played great.

Pargo, the younger brother of erstwhile Bulls guard Jannero Pargo, now with the Atlanta Hawks, grew in the same Englewood neighborhood as Rose. However, like his brother (who played in junior college before playing at Arkansas with current teammate Joe Johnson), he took the long route to the NBA, excelling overseas before making it to the league after the lockout ended.

Its another game. Youve got to come out and be prepared, and do whatever it takes to help your team win, said the younger Pargo, who estimated that he had 20 well-wishers at the game. Rose is a great player. Ive got to come out and be focused and ready, and when the opportunity presents itself, try to take advantage of the opportunities and the moments.

During the lockout, I had no idea what the expectations would be or should be. It was a tough time and fortunately, we were able to come through it, continued the Robeson High School graduate, who starred collegiately at Gonzaga before playing professionally in Israel. Its something that I wanted to do, play ball at the highest level and Ive been given an opportunity, so Im going to do whatever I can to help the team and take full advantage of the opportunity.

Blackhawks get a point but Kris Versteeg wins it for Flames in shootout

Blackhawks get a point but Kris Versteeg wins it for Flames in shootout

Patrick Kane scored his second goal of the season, but the Calgary Flames were the latest team to punish the Blackhawks’ penalty kill in their 3-2 shootout victory on Monday night.

Kris Versteeg won it in the seventh round of the shootout, waiting long enough for Corey Crawford to be out of position, then slipping the puck past him.

Gustav Forsling was hit along the glass by Lance Bouma in the second period and did not return. An update on his status was not immediately known.

[SHOP BLACKHAWKS: Get your Blackhawks gear right here]

Brian Campbell scored his first of the season early in the third period, tying the game at 2. Richard Panik looked to have the game winner in the waning seconds, but Brian Elliott stopped the puck with his right skate.

Crawford stopped 29 of 31 in the loss. Elliott stopped 31 of 33 in the victory.

The Blackhawks looked sluggish for a good part of this one, and then their penalty kill once again let them down. Sam Bennett scored the Flames’ first power-play goal just 39 seconds into the advantage. In the second period Sean Monahan buried a rebound for another power-play goal, this one also 39 seconds into the opportunity.

Bears In-Foe: Purple a fitting color for Vikings' battered, bruised offense

Bears In-Foe: Purple a fitting color for Vikings' battered, bruised offense

Mike Zimmer couldn't hold back his frustration after Sunday's 21-10 loss in Philadelphia.

Realistically, big picture-wise, he should feel fortunate. Not that his team isn't any good. We've seen these Vikings coming for awhile. But his offense, minus so many pieces that have been subtracted due to injuries, hadn't turned the ball over once in its 5-0 start.

That's when Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, who'd seen Sam Bradford for all of training camp before he was traded a week before the opener, dialed things up. The result? Four turnovers, including Bradford's first interception of the season, coupled with a pair of fumbles. Schwartz doesn't have as many pieces as the Vikings' defense, but he had enough to sack Bradford six times, deliver 19 hits and 14 knockdowns.

Bradford's managed to step in for Teddy Bridgewater more easily than starting tackles Matt Kalil (hip) and Andre Smith (triceps) have been replaced. T.J. Clemmings is capable after starting all of his rookie season a year ago, but the hope that former No. 1 overall pick Jake Long had anything left took a serious hit Sunday. He'd gone unclaimed for quite a while (even reportedly going through a workout with the Bears), and we saw some of the reasons against the Eagles. He was replaced by journeyman Jeremiah Sirles. The middle of that line seems OK, thanks in part to the free agent signing of guard Alex Boone to anchor the interior with Brandon Fusco and center Joe Berger.

The great Adrian Peterson's torn meniscus in week two has him on injured reserve, with little hope he'll make it back. And while Jerrick McKinnon (3.2 yards per carry) and Matt Asiata (3.3) are serviceable, the line hasn't been able to help those replacements rush for an average of even 75 yards per game (31st in the NFL).

And think about this: Yes, the Bears have played one more game than the Vikings, but they have four receivers who've matched or surpassed the dangerous Stefon Diggs' team-leading total of 27 receptions. Three of Bradford's seven touchdown passes have gone to tight end Kyle Rudolph. Former Illinois High School Player of the Year Laquon Treadwell was targeted to be the big target Bridgewater/Bradford needed, but had just two snaps the first three games and has yet to catch his first NFL pass. It's part of the Zimmer Way to bring along draft picks slowly (think Trae Waynes last year, albeit at a much deeper position on this team). Zimmer's indicated the 23rd overall pick's still too mechanical, still thinking too much at this level to earn snaps over Adam Thielen, Charles Johnson and now, even the once-exiled Cordarrelle Patterson, who scored the Vikings' lone touchdown Sunday on a pass from Bradford.

Like the Bears, this banged-up unit has trouble in the red zone (touchdowns on just 47 percent of their trips inside), and their 21.5 points per game average is boosted by four touchdowns combined from its defense and special teams. It'll be interesting to see if Leonard Floyd, Willie Young and perhaps Pernell McPhee can have themselves a good night next Monday against that susceptible line, and who's able to go among the Bears' defensive backs versus a passing offense that's averaged only 225 yards a game.