Noah, Robinson help Bulls dominate Celtics

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Noah, Robinson help Bulls dominate Celtics

Following Monday nights loss in Memphis, the Bulls (14-10) lamented their rebounding, so Tuesday at the United Center rebounding is what they did, as in bouncing back with a 100-89 victory over the Celtics (12-12).
Besides winning the battle of the boards, the Bulls also employed a solid defensive effort, good ball security and outstanding individual performances, including Joakim Noahs triple-double, an efficient scoring night from Luol Deng and Nate Robinson stealing the show off the bench to close things out.
Sparked by the scoring of forwards Deng (21 points) and Carlos Boozer (21 points, 12 rebounds), as well as the uncanny playmaking of Noah (11 points, 13 rebounds, 10 assists), the Bulls started the evening with more of an offensive tone than the previous night. However, they were countered by Bostons balanced scoring, led by future Hall of Famers Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, leading to a close-knit affair in the opening period.
Marco Belinelli was also a factor for the Bulls in the early going, as was Celtics floor general Rajon Rondo (26 points, eight assists), who was his usual playmaking self, setting up teammates for easy scoring opportunities. But Deng continued to excel for the hosts, leading to a 28-23 edge after a quarter of play.
Behind Dengs propensity for getting to the foul lineand accuracy, as he knocked down his first 10 attempts from the charity stripeand, in an effort to match up with Bostons small-ball lineup, a backcourt featuring Robinson (18 points, 5-of-7 three-point shooting) and Marquis Teague, the Bulls seized control of the contest.
Robinson and fellow reserve Jimmy Butler gave the hosts a boost of energy with their scoring and offensive rebounding, respectively, while Noahs all-around game hinted at a triple-double in the making and by getting out in transition and dominating the offensive glass, the Bulls took a double-digit lead. However, toward the end of the half, Boston battled back behind Rondo, but at the intermission, the Bulls maintained a 53-46 advantage.
After the break, Boozer became the focal point of the Bulls offense, shouldering the home teams scoring load, en route to them once again building the winning margin to double digits. Despite the stellar play of Rondo, who looked more for his shot as his teammates struggled to score, the Celtics couldnt dig themselves out of the hole.
Besides their offensive cohesiveness and improved rebounding after losing the battle of the boards in their three previous outingsthe defense wasnt outstanding, as Boston shot a decent percentageperhaps the biggest key to the Bulls success was their ability to take care of the ball and limit turnovers. Deng picked up the slack on the back end of the frame, then, just like the end of the previous quarter, the Celtics, propelled by Rondo, made another push, but heading into the final stanza, the Bulls led, 79-70.
Robinsons instant-offense scoring from deep gave the Bulls a big lift at the outset of the fourth quarter, giving the Bulls plenty of breathing room and further widening the gap between the two teams. Taj Gibson (13 points, five rebounds, four assists), playing on a gimpy ankle, also made his presence, and was on the receiving end of Noahs 10th assist of the night, giving the center a triple-double, the second of his career.
With Robinson leading the charge, the difference in the game grew to blowout proportions midway through the period and while the partisan crowd was still very much involved, it was all academic by that point in the lopsided affair. Even Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau had to tacitly admit that it was over and his team did a job well done, as he subbed out the likes of Deng and Noah, two of the NBAs leaders in minutes per game.

[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.

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