Bulls aim for fifth straight road win tonight on CSN


Bulls aim for fifth straight road win tonight on CSN

The Bulls will look to continue their hot streak away from the United Center tonight when they travel to Memphis to take on the Grizzlies. Coverage begins at 6:30 on Comcast SportsNet with Bulls Pregame Live and Bulls Postgame Live following the contest.

Tom Thibodeaus group has been tough to read on the road this season. After picking up road wins against Cleveland and Phoenix to begin their schedule, they lost three straight during the Circus road trip to Portland, Houston and the Clippers. Since then, however, the Bulls have won four straight games outside of Chicago. They accomplished such a streak three different times last season, but the notable absence of Derrick Rose and injuries to Rip Hamilton and Kirk Hinrich have made the unblemished run all the more impressive. At 6-3, no team in the Eastern Conference has a better road record.

Waiting for the Bulls in Memphis is a Grizzlies team looking to get back to its winning ways after a red-hot start fizzled out to begin the month. Lionel Hollins group was the surprise of November, racing out to a 12-2 record one that included wins over Golden State, Miami, Oklahoma City, New York and the Lakers but have since cooled off, going just 3-4 in December. Theyll appreciate being back on their home court, where they are 9-2, after a three-game road trip out West.

Scoring will likely be at a minimum tonight, as the Bulls and Grizzlies both rank in the top-3 in points allowed. Just one team the Clippers on Opening Night has eclipsed the century mark against Memphis, compared with three opponents accomplishing the same against the Bulls.

In what should be a low-scoring affair, the matchup of the night will come from a similar source. Memphis frontcourt Rudy Gay, Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol have accounted for 52 points and nearly 26 rebounds per game. The trio plays exactly into Memphis efficient, defensive-minded style and, along with point guard Mike Conley, have the Grizzlies' sights set on a fight for the Southwest Division championship.

The expected return of Hinrich to the Bulls starting lineup should help neutralize Conley, who is averaging more than two points better at home than on the road. The Bulls have pushed their way to a one-game lead in the Central Division and could pick up a quality road win tonight against a quality opponent. See if Chicagos frontcourt can come out on top, only on Comcast SportsNet.

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred open to idea of Cubs hosting All-Star Game at renovated Wrigley Field

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred open to idea of Cubs hosting All-Star Game at renovated Wrigley Field

PHOENIX – Rob Manfred is open to the idea of an All-Star Game at a fully renovated Wrigley Field, but the Major League Baseball commissioner won't make any guarantees about the 2020 target date the Cubs have proposed in a joint lobbying effort with Mayor Rahm Emanuel's office.

"I'm not going to get into specific years," Manfred said Tuesday during a Cactus League media event at the Arizona Biltmore. "Because there's a number of clubs – we're fortunate – that have interest in particular years. And I don't want to say anything that would suggest that I'm anywhere near making a decision."

During last month's Cubs Convention, president of business operations Crane Kenney expressed optimism in a Super Bowl-style bidding process, and not the old way of simply alternating the showcase event between the American and National leagues each year.

The Cubs will point to their starring role in a World Series that beat the NFL's "Sunday Night Football" in head-to-head TV ratings and saw more than 40 million people tune in for Game 7. By 2020, the $600 million Wrigleyville development is supposed to be finished, and Emanuel helped broker the deals that moved the NFL draft to Chicago the last two years after a long run at New York's Radio City Music Hall.

"I will say this: A renovated Wrigley Field would be a great location for an All-Star Game," Manfred said. "Chicago is a great city. And over time, we have tried to go to cities that would be great locations for the game – and to reward cities that had made substantial investments in either new or renovated facilities."

The Cubs still see potential roadblocks, needing City Hall's help with an increased security presence around an urban neighborhood ballpark that hasn't hosted the Midsummer Classic since 1990.

Kenney also acknowledged that All-Star Games have been used as bargaining chips in public negotiations in cities like Miami and Washington – Marlins Park (2017) and Nationals Park (2018) will make it four straight All-Star Games for NL stadiums – while the Ricketts family used private mechanisms to fund the project after striking out on other proposals. 

Nemanja Nikolic channels his inner MJ in jersey number

Nemanja Nikolic channels his inner MJ in jersey number

Jersey numbers can be a big deal in soccer. Who is the team's No. 10? Who is the No. 9?

Nemanja Nikolic, a forward who joined the Chicago Fire this offseason as a Designated Player, didn't have the choice of either number that is famously associated with marquee attacking players because both were taken by returning players on the Fire. Instead, he landed on a number more famous in Chicago sports than in soccer.

Nikolic will be wearing 23.

The Fire announced the jersey numbers for the 2017 season with Nikolic's 23 a part of the list. Every returning player kept the same number as last season.

It goes without saying that wearing the No. 23 in Chicago comes with an extra bit of notoriety. Ever since Michael Jordan donned the No. 23 for the Chicago Bulls, it has been a common sight to find the best player on a Chicagoland high school basketball team wearing No. 23. That doesn't translate to the world of soccer, but in Chicago fans will notice.

A spokesman for the club said the number was more coincidence than intentional MJ reference, but if Nikolic has a good season don't be surprised to see signs at Toyota Park referencing Nikolic's jersey number.

In the preseason some of the players have been wearing different jersey numbers from what they will in the regular season. Nikolic has been wearing No. 9 in preseason matches.

Here is a list of the other newcomers and the numbers they will be wearing:

Jorge Bava: 1

Dax McCarty: 6

Djordje Mihailovic: 14

Juninho: 19

Daniel Johnson: 20

Stefan Cleveland: 30