Frustration continues to mount for Bulls

950211.png

Frustration continues to mount for Bulls

From hearing how theyre not the same team from the past two seasons without Derrick Rose and the Bench Mob, and no consistency in the principles that put them in title conversations during that stretch, the Bulls' 6-7 start can be summed up in one obvious word -- frustration.

Those issues seemed to all culminate in their 93-92 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks, as they watched a 27-point third-quarter lead evaporate courtesy of Milwaukees reserves, who closed the game by outscoring the Bulls 42-12 over the final 14:50 of play.

Im stunned, just on the simple fact that when you have a 27-point lead, and the way that we defend, you never expect a team to make a run like that, especially to play harder than us in the fourth, said Richard Hamilton, who scored a season-high 30 points, also his most as a Bull.

You have a team down, you have to keep them down, he continued. We kind of gave them a little bit of confidence at the end of the third quarter. Once they got rolling, we couldnt stop them.

For two-and-a-half quarters, the Bulls appeared on their way to their 10th straight win over Central Division foes, but whether due to fatigue, lack of focus or a combination of both they fell apart.

We didnt look like the same team, Kirk Hinrich said. It seemed like we just kind of got away from everything we were doing to get the lead. Obviously, youre going to make mistakes out there, but we kind of compounded them, and they capitalized on them."

The rotation has been in question as well as the collective production of the reserve unit and thats sure to continue as no starter played less than 38 minutes in the loss, with Luol Deng playing a game-high 47.

While it is unfair to compare given that statistic, the Bucks reserves outscored the Bulls 56-10.

The loss is the fourth in five games for the Bulls.

While its still early in the season, the standard they have come to expect from themselves makes the way theyre losing the more disappointing.

The loss counts the same as the six that came before it and with 69 games remaining, they wont dwell on this, given coach Thibodeaus penchant on not looking back. But unless they find some answers, more frustrating losses will continue to pile up. Even when they looked their best, it only took a desperate group of reserves to make them look average.

You never have a game won until the final horn goes off, said a frustrated Thibodeau. In this league, if youre not a 48-minute team, youre asking for trouble. As soon as you start feeling good about yourself, youre going to get knocked on your expletive and thats what happened.

You have to play 48 minutes in this league, and we still have a long way to go in that area.

[PHOTO] Joe Maddon, Miguel Montero patch things up over a drink

[PHOTO] Joe Maddon, Miguel Montero patch things up over a drink

Despite the Cubs ending their 108-year World Series drought, Miguel Montero made offseason headlines for all the wrong reasons when he complained about his role in the Cubs' 2017 championship campaign.

Montero criticized Maddon's communication skills, catching rotation and bullpen decision-making after the team's Grant Park celebration. Maddon brushed off the criticism, and last week at spring training Montero said he hadn't spoke with the Cubs' skipper.

That tension appears to be all but a thing of the past, as Montero posted this picture of him and his manager sharing a drink together sporting nothing but smiles.

It's safe to say Montero would describe his relationship with Maddon now as: #WeAreGood.

Five Things to Watch: Blackhawks clash with Wild tonight on CSN

Five Things to Watch: Blackhawks clash with Wild tonight on CSN

Watch as the Blackhawks take on the Minnesota Wild tonight on CSN and streaming live on CSNChicago.com. Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live. Then stick around after the final buzzer to watch Blackhawks Postgame Live for highlights and analysis.

Click here to watch the game or download the NBC Sports App, your home for live streaming coverage of the Blackhawks.

Five Things to Watch:

1. Road warriors.

The Blackhawks have won six straight games away from the United Center, and are looking to make it a seventh in Minnesota tonight. They've scored the game's first goal in four of those wins, and in the other two, overcame 1-0 deficits to beat Dallas 5-3 and Edmonton 5-1, the latter of which they scored five unanswered goals.

2. Corey Crawford vs. Devan Dubnyk.

Crawford hasn't quite been the same since undergoing an emergency appendectomy on Dec. 3, but he turned in probably his best outing since then in the Blackhawks' last meeting against Minnesota on Feb. 8 when he stopped 35 of 38 shots in a 4-3 overtime win. He essentially stole two points, and prevented the Wild from picking up the extra one. Across from him tonight will be Dubnyk, who leads the league in wins (32), goals against average (1.97) and save percentage (.934).

3. Jonathan Toews on fire.

After a tough offensive drought earlier in the season that lasted longer than expected, the Blackhawks captain has six goals and 10 assists in his last 12 games, and upped his point total to 37, which now ranks fifth on the team. In the last meeting against Minnesota two weeks ago, Toews had a three-point night and scored the game winner in overtime. 

4. Mikael Granlund among league's most underrated players.

File Granlund under the category of players who don't get enough attention. He has 17 goals and 36 assists in 58 games this season, and his 53 points is tied with Jeff Carter and Artemi Panarin for 13th in the NHL's scoring race. The next highest point total on the Wild is Eric Staal with 45, an eight-point gap between him and Granlund. The 24-year-old forward registered his first career hat trick earlier this month, and also had a 12-game point streak just two weeks ago.

5. Ryan Hartman's closing in on 15 goals.

In Saturday's 3-1 loss to Edmonton, Hartman defended his teammate by fighting an Oilers defenseman that was practically twice his size. He called it a "no-brainer" to stick up for Tanner Kero and did well in the scrap, but it led to an Oilers power play and 10-minute misconduct which didn't do the Blackhawks any favors. He responded in a great way Sunday by scoring the game's first goal that helped his team win 5-1 in Buffalo. The next goal he scores will be No. 15, which would give the Blackhawks six 15-plus goal scorers on the year. They had only four a season ago.

- Check out the latest stats and standings to make sure you’re ready for action

- Channel Finder: Make sure you know where to watch

- NBC Sports App FAQ: All your questions answered

- Latest on the Blackhawks: All of the most recent news and notes

- See what Blackhawks fans are talking about before, during and after the game with Blackhawks Pulse