No. 5 Brooks holds off Curie; advances to Final

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No. 5 Brooks holds off Curie; advances to Final

Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2011
11:12 p.m.

By Michael O'Brien
YourSeason.com

Curie and Brooks treated the fans watching the Public League playoffsemifinals to some spectacular basketball for 3 12 quarters on Wednesday at DePaul. Both teams ran at a breakneck pace, and then Curie ran right into a wall. The Condors held the ball for a three-minute stretch at the end of the game, daring the Eagles and coach Bobby Locke to come out of their zone defense. Locke never budged, and No. 10 Curie started back up with 27 seconds to play. Curie didnt manage to get a shot off on two of its final three possessions and the No. 5 Eagles walked away with a 63-60 win and a trip to the city championship game Friday at Chicago State.When I saw them stalling I knew it was a train wreck waiting to happen, Locke said. I felt they had the momentum at that point and I knew the stall would tighten them up. It puts all the pressure on them. (Curie coach Mike Oliver) is a great coach, but I was confident as the clock was running down.Brooks senior Keith Grays basket with seven seconds to play gave the Eagles a 63-60 lead. Josh Baston had a chance at a game-tying three for Curie at the buzzer, but the shot didnt fall.I was going to dish that ball off, said Gray. But I saw I had an open path to the basket so I just went for it.Senior guard Mike Powell led Brooks (21-3) with 24 points and Keith Gray added 15 points and six rebounds.I was looking over at coach while they were stalling, Powell said. I really thought we should go out and guard them and make them play. He made the right call though, it all worked out for the best.Devin Foster led the Condors (26-2) with 19 points. Paris Burns added 13 points and five rebounds. Senior guard Greg Travis also scored 13.Its our time, Gray said. Weve fallen short of this the last few years, but we are seniors now and we knew it was our last chance to step up and make our mark.Brooks will face the winner of the Young vs. Simeon semifinal at 7 p.m. Friday at Chicago State.

Wonky streaks, good fortune over Cavs on the line for Bulls

Wonky streaks, good fortune over Cavs on the line for Bulls

No matter the metric or the occasion, the only thing definitive about the Bulls over the last two seasons has been their mystifying dominance over the Cleveland Cavaliers in head-to-head matchups.

That, and their fascinating streak of consecutive wins while playing at home on TNT, a streak that could end at 19 games Thursday night when the two teams with varying objectives clash at the United Center.

The Cavaliers are searching to find themselves, along with a light switch that will perhaps alert them to a lost defense over the past several weeks that has been worst in the league since the All-Star break.

The Bulls are searching for consistency, but since it’s probably a little too late in the season for that, they’ll settle for a playoff spot with eight games left.

They’ll take two straight wins for the first time in a month, if they can get it.

They’ll extend a goofy streak, if that’s what things will come down to.

“The big thing is obviously you have to execute very well against this Cleveland team,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. “You have to go out there with great urgency, great energy. I anticipate them coming in and playing with a ton of energy tomorrow. We’re going to have to match that. We’re going to have to come out and play physical basketball.”

Having a big break between games this late in the season is a rarity, as the Bulls have been off since Sunday evening, but it’s just another weird detail in this weird Bulls experience.

An experience that the mild-mannered Hoiberg has to experience from his couch some nights, such as watching the Miami Heat furiously steal a game in Detroit at the buzzer with a Hasaan Whiteside tip-in to extend a lead over his team to a game, followed by another win Wednesday to put more distance between the two teams.

“I did, actually,” said Hoiberg with a smirk when asked if he’s scoreboard watching and paying attention to the teams ahead of the Bulls in the playoff race.

After being prompted to give his raw emotions when Whiteside’s tip-in occurred, he slipped right back to Robo-Hoiberg—although one can imagine how animated he must’ve been while looking to catch a break from a previous contender for the eighth spot in the Pistons.

“It is what it is,” Hoiberg said. “You have to go out and worry about yourselves at this time of year. It was a great finish for Miami, obviously, the way that game ended. But there’s nothing you can do about that. You’ve got to worry about yourselves and hopefully go out and execute.”

Going 6-1 against the Cavaliers in his two seasons as Bulls coach is probably the biggest feather in his cap, including three wins in all three meetings this go round.

The rhyme or reason doesn’t seem explainable, but Nikola Mirotic seemed to give a few keys to the Bulls’ success over LeBron James’ Cavaliers: Sharing the ball, controlling the glass and getting back on defense.

“Against big teams, we play much better,” Mirotic said. “I don’t know why is the reason for that. We need to find a way to play against everybody like that. It’s on us. We just have to prove it.”

Usually, those tenets seem to work against most teams, not just the supremely talented champions who’ve just lost a grip on first place in the conference.

But their inconsistencies have left the Bulls here with a handful of games left before the April 12th finale.

A win over Cleveland could mean everything, or nothing at all, or something in between.

“Sure, we understand,” Mirotic said. “We’ve been in a very similar situation last year. We didn’t make the playoffs so this year we want to try to make that push. I think we have a good schedule for the last. Very important game tomorrow, huge one. I think we have played very well against Cleveland until now. We have a chance. We need to get out there and play with energy.” 

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